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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The fisking of a snark, or how an Alliance Defending Freedom/ACLJ lawyer pretends to have once favored marriage equality

At  the NR frat house, David French has 'em high-fiving him for cleverness (read his article and then his bio below and then consider whether you should believe he ever believed in marriage equality). Fact is, he's just slapped some retreads on old arguments; in 2010, he also discovered he had evolved about marriage, just like this time!

Waldo's comments are italicized.

Like the President and Hillary, My Views on Marriage Have Evolved

by DAVID FRENCH April 27, 2015 1:23 PM 

I’ve evolved. In the not-so-distant past, I held a view that has since proven to be oppressive, a view of the law and culture that I now see as stifling the rights of others and damaging the fabric of our families and our democracy. 

I supported same-sex marriage. 

[As you well know, from your words published in 2010, you never supported it.You just "didn't oppose it" for a few minutes in 2004.]

The year was 2004, and I was a partner in a large commercial law firm. Despite working mainly in commercial, contract litigation, I’d cultivated a constitutional practice and represented a number of Christian ministries. So, when the Massachusetts supreme judicial court legalized gay marriage, a number of fellow Christians asked for my thoughts. 

And in a January 2004 op-ed in our local newspaper, I shared them. While I can’t find the full piece online anymore, 

[The Lexington, KY News-Leader ran the piece February 11, 2004, for one. On May 7, 2010, you published, "I Was Wrong About Gay Marriage" in Speak Up, and there, too, quoted your 2004 article.]

this excerpt should give you the flavor: 
Unfortunately, the conservative argument against gay marriage often reeks of hypocrisy. Our society stopped viewing marriage as a sacred (God-ordained) institution long ago. Since the invention of no-fault divorce laws, divorce rates have skyrocketed. Now, almost half of all marriages end in divorce. 
I continued: 
For those who believe gay marriage is morally wrong for Biblical or other religious reasons, this decision changes nothing. Churches can still speak out against sexual immorality and can still choose not to perform gay weddings. The gay couple down the street in no way makes our own straight marriage more difficult or challenging, nor can any decision of any court of law change the definition of marriage in the eyes of God. 
[The next paragraph, in other, published versions, said this: "In the days, weeks and months to come, we can expect to hear many conservative commentators decry the continuing decay of our culture. In the debate that follows -- and as accusations of intolerance and immorality fly between left and right -- remember that Christians and conservatives long ago met the real enemy of the sacred institution of marriage -- and we are that enemy."]

My thesis was rather simple: Since the advent of no-fault divorce, the secular definition of “marriage” had become nothing more than a voluntary arrangement less binding than a refrigerator warranty. Adding same-sex couples to that already thoroughly secular institution would be, at most, an incremental, largely irrelevant cultural and legal change. 

I could not have been more wrong. Indeed, this sentence — “For those who believe gay marriage is morally wrong for Biblical or other religious reasons, this decision changes nothing” — may have been among the most inaccurate predictions in the history of punditry. 

[Why, then, should anybody give a rat's ass what you think now? You clearly have no reliable judgment; in your first- 2010- apology, you wrote, "Now, why would I remember an op-ed from 2004, when I sometimes can’t even remember blog posts I read five minutes ago? Because I wrote it. For some time after the Massachusetts decision, I supported legalizing same-sex marriage — or, to be more precise, I did not oppose its legalization. 

["Why? I can basically sum it up in one sentence. I have a strong libertarian streak and was completely fed up with the cavalier way in which the Christian community treated its own marriage vows. But I was wrong. No, I wasn’t wrong that Christians have their own marriage problem. That much is obvious. I was wrong in believing that there was essentially- no harm, no foul- legally or culturally in recognizing gay marriage. I was wrong to believe that the proper response to the damage to done to the institution of marriage was to essentially throw our hands up and allow even further damage. And I was definitely wrong to believe that legalizing same-sex marriage- as a practical matter -is a libertarian decision in the real world. 

["With so many college students jumping on the same-sex marriage bandwagon, often for the very reasons I did, it might be helpful to explain why I was wrong, and why I came to understand that marriage must be defended. 

["First, it’s important to note that I initially approached the marriage question from a fundamentally incorrect starting position — implicitly adopting the argument that marriage exists for the benefit of adults, for their fulfillment and enjoyment. This is a fundamentally selfish view of marriage (I’m getting married to fulfill me). Instead, marriage is the fundamental building block of the family, the cultural cornerstone of a society, and it exists primarily for the benefit not of adults but of children. 

["Why does that distinction matter so much? Because we now know — after decades of social experimentation for the benefit of adults (from the disaster of no-fault divorce to the widespread acceptance of out-of-wedlock births often to avoid ―stigmatizing — that’s right — the adult), we now understand that we have made a horrific cultural error: VOTE YES ON NOVEMBER 6TH FOR THE MINNESOTA MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT: A NON-VOTE IS A NO VOTE"]

As recent history decisively demonstrates, if you believe gay marriage is morally wrong, virtually everything is changing. 

As I noted in a piece last week, there is a concerted legal and cultural effort to not just carve out a legal space for same-sex couples but to essentially banish orthodox Christianity from public life — to treat it with the same respect that mainstream culture treats abhorrent ideologies like white supremacy. Christians must lose their jobs, lose their businesses, and close their schools, unless they bend the knee to the sexual revolution. 

[How many? When? Where? How many people have been fired, in the same period, for being gay, or getting married, or announcing plans to marry? Is that somehow, not expressive of all the bad feelings you decry when you and yours are on the receiving end?]

Bonds of friendship and loyalty are meaningless if the cultural conservative holds the wrong view on same-sex marriage, 

[I have never cut off anyone who opposes same-sex marriage. Having grown up a white Southern Republican, I have had a goodly portion of friends, family and business colleagues cut me off- not for anything to do with same-sex marriage. It was just for coming out. My mother's family made its start in business in timber harvesting. Imagine my bemusement when an aunt and uncle sent their daughter to ask me to drop them from my business newsletter after it mentioned my partner. They wanted to use less paper and save trees, I was told.]

and Christian clubs are vile discriminators if they simply want to be led by Christian leaders. 

[Never mind, for example, the city of Seattle employee who shut down the functioning of a GLBT employees group disrupting its meetings with his antigay rants.] 

In the “blue” sectors of America, particularly the academy, some Christians feel that they have to live under deep cover to protect their careers. 

[Interesting. Aside from the obvious, "How many is 'some'?" , how to explain prominent antigay activists like Robert P. George, cofounder of National Organization for Marriage, who holds a tenured chair at Princeton? How is being forced 'under deep cover to protect their careers' more disagreeable than forcing others to work "under deep cover to protect their careers' for being in a same-sex relationship? Or married? or just gay?] 

It’s important to understand that this wave of coercive intolerance is not mere aberrational excess but the natural and inevitable byproduct of grafting same-sex relationships into an institution that is a key building-block to civilization itself. Even in the face of strong sexual-revolution headwinds, our law and culture continue to not only protect marriage and incentivize marriage, it is still seen by hundreds of millions of Americans as the ideal family relationship. In other words, by grafting same-sex relationships into marriage, activists want their relationships to enjoy all the legal and cultural protections marriage has built up through millennia of human experience. To oppose “marriage” is to oppose civilization. 

[Were you opposing civilization when you were for same-sex marriage? Oh, wait, I forgot, you really weren't.]

But marriage did not become an “ideal” or civilizational building-block by simply being the most intense and committed form of adult relationship. In fact, at its core, marriage is not about adults — or adult happiness — at all. It has been at the heart of every enduring world culture not because these cultures share the same faith, or share the same ideals about romantic love and adult happiness, but because life has long taught us cultures thrive when children are raised in stable, two-parent, mother-father homes. Indeed, spouses from many cultures would laugh at the notion that “happiness” or “romance” has anything to do with the nature and familial bond of their marriage. 

[Back before heterosexuals began destroying marriage in the 1960s, the rich and famous could get in and out of marriage as many times as they liked. It was just everyone else who was stuck in the Calvinist hell you so miss here].

I agree with the notion that gay couples should be able to make health-care decisions for each other, write each other into wills, solemnize their relationships if they wish, and otherwise enjoy many of the same bundle of rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples, but it is easy and simple enough to write those protections into law without changing the very definition and nature of marriage. 

[Why hasn't it been done, then? 

[Why do conservatives oppose doing it, and why have they since the 1990s? Is it because, as your employer, Alliance Defending Freedom, says, it will just lead to demands for marriage?

[And while we're at it, Mr. French: which benefits should same-sex couples have, and which should they not. There are something like 1400 at the federal level and thousands among the states. Can you explain why they shouldn't have the ones they shouldn't, like a surviving spouse's right to a valuable fishing or hunting license? Should the options you get at Alabama's civil unions salad bar be different from Maine's? Or Minnesota's?]

Cultures that have sought to alter marriage from its fundamental norms do not have a happy history.

[Examples,please? Broad generalizations really do not a powerful argument make. Among the lower information antigay sorts, it is gospel that homosexuality called the fall of the Roman Empire, but you'll will be hard put to find that cause and effect in the historical record.]

 Polygamy has hardly proven conducive to enduring cultural strength,

[-which has what to do with same-sex marriage, especially given that it has been practiced exclusively as a matter of one man and many women, except in ant colonies? Why do antigay groups like yours spend so much time proselytizing in Africa, where it is still practiced- by antigay leaders, and tactitly endorsed by American ones in the LDS Church?]

and when segments of the young American nation changed thousands of years of marriage traditions by injecting white supremacy into what was once a color-blind institution,

[Be still, my heart! I love a good euphemism. Care to unpack it?]

it commandeered marriage into the unsustainable and ultimately ruinous practice of race-based chattel slavery and race-based economic, cultural, and legal discrimination.

[Ditto, Rush! Ditto!] 

But now we’re racing off on our own cultural experiment, one that began two generations ago when Baby Boomers decided they needed to shed their spouses at will,

[See above, then explain how gays had anything to do with that. How is the irresponsibility, and continuing unwillingness to address it, of heterosexuals assuaged, and the problem cured, by barring others from marriage who want not to shed spouses, but rather to get and keep them?] 

and continues now with the equally radical step of redefining who a “spouse” can be and re-ordering marriage to center completely and totally on adult emotional contentment. 

[Back to the misery loves company argument. What's wrong with Dolly Parton's argument, that she saw no reason why gays wouldn't be as miserable married as straights? Or, as Justice Ginsberg asked today, why is a state divorce decree enforceable nationwide when a marriage is not? The Church Lady says, "How conveeeeee-nient."]

And we’re racing on despite the clear record that families who maintain the traditional bonds do far better — in aggregate — emotionally, socially, and economically than families who shun tradition to carve out their own definitions of “ideal.”

[Which studies, by which discredited pseuds, are you relying on? Is George Rekers hiding in the statistical woodpile?] 

In 2004, I was wrong and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were right. The definition of marriage should not change. In fact, Ms. Clinton was so right, that I’ll close by quoting her: 
I believe that marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. [It’s a] fundamental bedrock principle that exists between a man and a woman, going back into the mists of history as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principal role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults. 
Exactly right, Hillary. As I said once before when discussing my own intellectual journey, the tides of history and opinion are not irreversible. It’s not inevitable that everyone will follow the Obama/Clinton path to transform the very nature of this “foundational institution.” People can, in fact, move back towards time-tested tradition. I’m living proof.

[Aside from demonstrating you can be as breathtakingly cynical and self-serving as a candidate for president, what's your point?]

Here's French's NR bio:

David French is a staff writer at National Review, an attorney (concentrating his practice in constitutional law and the law of armed conflict), and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the author or co-author of several books including, most recently, the No. 1 New York Times bestselling Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and a former lecturer at Cornell Law School. He has served as a senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom. David is a major in the United States Army Reserve (IRR). In 2007, he deployed to Iraq, serving in Diyala Province as Squadron Judge Advocate for the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He lives and works in Columbia, Tennessee, with his wife, Nancy (who is also a New York Times bestselling author), and three children.
Mrs. French, who told one Christian group's interviewer she is a really funny writer, proved it in spades when she ghosted Bristol Palin's memoir. Making a high school slut out as a good girl would seem to be the sort of moral relativism Mr. French accuses evangelicals of when it comes to marriage, but I digress.

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