By Lindsay Beyerstein
Social conservative NYT columnist Ross Douthat admits that he's uncomfortable discussing gay marriage in public because he opposes it for no good reason:
The question came from Christopher Glazek, a fact-checker at The New Yorker, who wanted to know whether Mr. Douthat and Mr. Salam believed that former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who has apologized on behalf of his party for the Southern Strategy, should also apologize for the Republican party's gay politics.
At first Mr. Douthat seemed unable to get a sentence out without interrupting himself and starting over. Then he explained: "I am someone opposed to gay marriage who is deeply uncomfortable arguing the issue in public."
Mr. Douthat indicated that he opposes gay marriage because of his religious beliefs, but that he does not like debating the issue in those terms. At one point he said that, sometimes, he feels like he should either change his mind, or simply resolve never to address the question in public. [NY Obs]
It's understandable that Douthat doesn't like debating the issue in terms of his religious beliefs. Because he always loses to the opponent who says: "Who cares about your religion, Ross? We're talking about the criteria for civil marriage, here."
Ross said he doesn't even bother with the standard secular argument against gay marriage because nobody ever takes takes it seriously:
He added: "The secular arguments against gay marriage, when they aren't just based on bigotry or custom, tend to be abstract in ways that don't find purchase in American political discourse. I say, ‘Institutional support for reproduction,' you say, ‘I love my boyfriend and I want to marry him.' Who wins that debate? You win that debate." [NY Obs]
Ross says the notion doesn't "get traction" because it's too "abstract." Notice how the pundit speak absolves him from coming right out and saying that this argument is bunk. He says he doesn't make the case because nobody will listen, not because it's a crazy idea.
Actually, nobody takes the marriage/reproduction argument seriously because any undergraduate can debunk it. It's not abstract at all. Even Ross thinks that sterile opposite-sex couples should be allowed to get married and I'm sure he's aware that some same-sex couples raise children. So, the question is why straight childless couples have more rights than their gay counterparts. If reproductive support is so important, we have a moral obligation to support the children of gay and straight families equally by letting their parents get married.
It's obvious why Ross is uncomfortable talking about gay marriage in public. He wants the state to impose his religion on other people, but he doesn't want to look like a theocrat in front of the liberal cultural elite.