Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another form of marriage activism

As you may recall, David Blankenhorn was one of the two (count ‘em) pro-Prop8 witnesses that testified in the Prop 8 federal case two years ago. (Yes, children, it’s been a long road to get it to the Supreme Court….and LGBT people still can’t marry in California. But I digress.)

 Last summer, Blankenhorn changed his mind about marriage equality, because he had become dismayed at the bile and bigotry expressed by that side. So, he made a plea for marriage.

 The New York Times tells us that Blankenhorn is now working on a pro-marriage coalition that is more interested in the institution than the gender of the participants.

On Thursday, Mr. Blankenhorn’s research group, the Institute for American Values in New York, plans to issue “A Call for a New Conversation on Marriage,” a tract renouncing the culture war that he was once part of, in favor of a different pro-marriage agenda.  
The proposed conversation will try to bring together gay men and lesbians who want to strengthen marriage with heterosexuals who want to do the same. 
 .... “New Conversation” is the capstone of a six-month period of rebuilding and rebranding for Mr. Blankenhorn. After his Op-Ed article appeared, five of his institute’s board members… resigned almost immediately. The institute lost about half a million dollars in donations…. “We’re in a real steep hole,” [BLankenhorn said]. “I laid two people off and am losing one by attrition.” ... 
The “new conversation” may discomfit many conservatives by including gay men and lesbians. And this conversation may not suit many liberals who are wary of stigmatizing unwed parents or treating marriage as some sort of desirable norm. …  
The debate, [William Galston, from the Brookings Institute] said, should not be about gay versus straight but about why so few poor people are choosing the benefits of marriage.

[Journalist Jonathan] Rauch, who has long been criticized by fellow gay writers for being too conservative, said that it is time to raise different questions: “What does, so to speak, the sexual-orientation-blind, pro-family agenda look like?” he asked. “The family values agenda for the postgay world?” 
Uber anti-gay activist Maggie Gallagher is making snide remarks.
Ms. Gallagher cautioned... that there may be more conservatives willing to accept gay allies than liberals willing to publicly support marriage.
Because of course she wants to paint liberals as anti-marriage. She wants to paint us as destroying marriage.  Well, I'm sorry Maggie, but my wife and I are about as boringly pro-marriage as you can get.

 And, already there's some pushback, in an article entitled "Does Championing Marriage Exclude Single Parents?"
A focus on marriage (and wealth) can put the onus for supporting a family squarely back on the parents, even when there are some things — like paid sick leave, preventive health care, maternity and paternity leaves, affordable birth control and day care — that “takes a village” to provide, except for the wealthiest among us. Any new conversation sounds promising, particularly when it’s offered up as part of what appears to be a centrist coalition in extremely divisive political times. But what we need most is to find a way to talk about strengthening families without excluding families. Strengthening marriages may be one way to create a better structure for raising children — but marriage is far from the only structure we need.
You know, I think it's possible to support the ideal of marriage as a liberal, without denigrating single parents.  Or gay ones.  Let's work on supporting families, eh? And it takes all of us.  maybe start with family leave---- and sick leave---- what else supports healthy families?

No comments: