At First Things, R. R. Reno writes:
A few days ago I wrote a sharply worded attack on Ken Mehlman’s argument that supporting gay marriage is the properly “conservative” position. David Blankenhorn offered some thoughtful reflections about what’s at stake for me (and others). He raises a key question. Can those of us who resist gay rights or gay-marriage turn around and claim not to be “anti-gay”? I think he’s right to conclude that we can’t, at least not in the way a term like “anti-gay” is used.
As they say, read the whole thing. Reno’s argument here is painstakingly honest and logical, and I can’t find anything in it with which to disagree – except for one point he makes. He writes:
All the talk about “bias” and “animus” and “prejudice” is misguided. It trades on the Selma Analogy, which can’t be sustained. It’s very strange to make moral judgments about someone on the basis of the color of their skin. It’s entirely normal to do so on the basis of what they do, which is why from time immemorial human beings have judged some sexual acts immoral (most, actually). If I say that sodomy or masturbation is immoral, I’m not expressing an “animus,” I’m doing the same thing as when I say that lying is wrong or that gossiping is harmful, which is to say I’m making a moral judgment.
Not so fast, please. In my view it’s not a good idea, when advancing an argument, simply to assume or ignore the very issue that is in fact so divisive and controversial. I’m sure that Rusty Reno knows as well as anyone that almost no gay people (certainly no openly gay people, or at least none that I can think of) would accept the premise that being black-skinned is fixed whereas being gay is not — i.e., that being gay can be properly understood, as Reno suggests, as simply the choice to commit certain acts. Reno can defend this position, of course, if that’s his position (and of course it’s a position that many have argued), but in my view in 2012 he can’t simply (with legitimacy) assume it, as if it were an uncontested fact, rather than what the whole fuss is all about.
But that’s a side point, really. In general, I think Reno and I agree, conceptually, on the fundamental relationships between the “gay” parts of the arguments on the table (or what Reno, I think with some justification, wants to call the “sex” parts) and the “marriage” parts. It’s been a helpful exchange.