'The institution of marriage should not exist'
The title of this article is a quotation from a gay activist, which I’ll address momentarily. But first, my reason for writing today.
I got a lot of response last week to my column on my new book, Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage. I thank American Thinker readers for their thoughtful responses. It’s one of the reasons I thoroughly appreciate the opportunity to write for American Thinker.
Readers will recall my plea to liberals to open their minds and prove their claims of “tolerance” and “diversity” and “dialogue” by actually reading this book. I’m quickly finding that that plea is falling flat, as liberals are responding crudely and rudely with the usual nasty name-calling. Sure, I didn’t expect to change their minds, but I naively hoped they might at least respond with a tacit acknowledgment that I’m offering them some compelling facts they hadn’t considered. Unfortunately, it’s clear they’re simply not going to bother with this book.
As for conservative readers who responded to my column, a bunch of them made a point that I think very much deserves a follow-up.
I noted in the article that unlike the communists and far-left radicals who recognize in gay marriage their long-awaited opportunity to finally take down marriage and the family, the vast majority of today’s proponents of same-sex marriage have friendly motives. Their goal is not to take down but to “expand” marriage to a new form of spousal partner. They do this with the intent of providing a new “right” to a new group. As I said, however, they need to be aware of the insidious deeper historical-ideological forces they are unwittingly serving. Most are not.
Many of the conservative readers of my article disagreed with this. They insisted that today’s advocates of gay marriage know exactly what they’re doing and have quite malicious motives, with the same goal of far-left extremists of times past. I would like to here address this point.
First, I disagree with these conservatives. I implore them to properly understand their opponents. Read them, engage them, listen to them, dissect the surveys of them, and you’ll see that most advocates of gay marriage are prompted by what they believe are benevolent purposes. It disserves the truth to improperly represent the other side. After all, the other side does that to us, and we don’t like it. They accuse us of opposing gay marriage because we simply “hate.” That incredibly simplistic accusation drives us crazy because it isn’t truthful and undermines constructive discussion.
Now, that said, apart from that majority, there are indeed people on the gay-marriage side who have antagonistic motives toward natural-traditional-biblical marriage. In rare moments of candor, some of them will concede this. I give a number of examples in the book. Here, I’ll offer just a few.
One with an eye to fundamental transformation is Paula Ettelbrick, former legal director of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. “Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family, [and] transforming the very fabric of society,” said Ettelbrick. “We must keep our eyes on the goals of providing true alternatives to marriage and of radically reordering society’s view of reality.”
Needless to say, “transforming the very fabric of society” and “radically reordering society’s view of reality” is a serious deal. That was precisely what the Marxists and 19th century socialist utopians like Robert Owen and Charles Fourier were trying to do, and specifically via their redefinition of marriage and family, which has always been the foundational building block of human civilization.
An even more frank admission comes from Masha Gessen, an accomplished writer, author, and gay-rights activist. (I just saw her latest book at Barnes & Noble, with a lead blurb from Obama biographer David Remnick.) Gessen’s words form the title of my column today:
It’s a no-brainer that [homosexuals] should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist…. Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there -- because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist….
I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally…. I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three…. And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.
I commend Gessen’s honesty. It’s a no-brainer that what she’s saying will come to fruition once the steadfast institution of man-woman marriage is no longer the standard. That is the breach to open the floodgates.
In fact, liberals/progressives should also understand that breaking that standard opens the door to the polygamy/polygyny of fringe religious cults they despise. For this or that whacky religious group that allows a man to marry multiple wives, the mad liberal/progressive push to redefine marriage is a gift from the heavens. For that matter, it will be viewed as a gift from Allah by a Muslim man following the Koranic belief of multiple wives. Sure, when the moment comes that an American Muslim asserts that marriage “right,” these same leftists will cry foul and busily try to reestablish some (obliterated) boundaries, but the mold will have been broken. They will have smashed it.
That is the real danger at work here. The problem is less same-sex marriage than the legal redefining that will enable much more. It’s a shame that the battle must entail such acrimony between, say, faithful religious people and gay-rights groups, especially given the undeniable cruel discrimination that so many homosexuals have struggled with for so long.
One more example: Since July 2006, a group instructively called Beyond Marriage has pushed a statement titled, “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships.” The group has actively circulated a petition of self-described “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and allied activists, scholars, educators, writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, and community organizers” who “seek to offer friends and colleagues everywhere a new vision for securing governmental and private institutional recognition of diverse kinds of partnerships, households, kinship relationships and families.” The statement candidly admits that “the struggle for same-sex marriage rights is only one part of a larger effort.” The group’s openly professed goal is “much broader than same-sex marriage,” and the numerous proposed forms of new marriage it lists are so sweeping as to seemingly accommodate practically any configuration. Prominent members of the group include Chai Feldblum, EEOC commissioner under President Barack Obama.
In the past, such a group of leftists would have loudly raised their voices but not caused any real damage. But now, with formal legalization of same-sex marriage afoot -- i.e., natural-traditional-biblical-Western marriage redefined -- they are getting what they want. And what they want will radically reorder everything.
So, to sum up: Yes, indeed, there are leftists today who see gay marriage as the chance to completely redefine marriage and family and to, in essence, accomplish the transformative goals of early Marxists and utopian socialists. No question. That’s a sad reality.
But what’s even sadder are the many more advocates of gay marriage who have no clue that their advocacy -- for reasons they believe are entirely positive -- are handmaidens to that longer, older, and more sinister agenda. Again, I plead with them to be aware of this bigger historical-ideological picture.
Paul Kengor’s newly released book is Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage. His other books include The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.