Ross Douthat is getting some push-back on a column he wrote over the weekend about gay marriage. In a blog post today, therefore, he offers a rejoinder. He argues that gay marriage proponents have “historical amnesia” when they claim that marriage’s legal connection to procreation is a new idea invented by conservatives to oppress gay persons. He shows convincingly from the historical record that this is not the case and then concludes with this:
That so many people find this claim credible or even self-evident is a small but potent example of exactly the two phenemona that my column’s conclusion discussed: First, the way that gay marriage inevitably has widening cultural ripple effects, in this case revising not only the law itself but also the stories people tell about where those laws came from and what they’re meant to do; and second, the way that some of these ripple effects are making it almost impossible for liberals to show magnanimity in victory, and accept the continued existence of people and institutions that still take the older view of what marriage is and means. After all, if that supposedly “older” view was just invented by Clinton or Bush-era homophobes when their Bible-thumping stopped working, then what’s to respect or even tolerate? Once you’ve rewritten the past to make your opponents look worse, then you’re well on your way to justifying writing them out of the future entirely.
He is right about this. Gay marriage proponents are weaving a narrative of narrative of bigotry that leaves no room or tolerance for those with a traditional view of marriage. It is precisely here that religious conservatives in particular are concerned about the future of this debate. It’s not just that marriage is being redefined, but also that religious liberty itself will crumble underneath charges of bigotry and hate. If the historical record is rewritten so that traditional marriage supporters are made to look arbitrary and novel, then it won’t be too long before a Christian view of human sexuality is completely marginalized in the culture. That is what Douthat means when he says that traditional marriage supporters are being written out of the future entirely, and he’s right.