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01/10/2013

Both a thanks and a reminder to David Blankenhorn

by Jeremy Hooper

It's been fascinating to watch the way David Blankenhorn, star witness in favor of the discriminatory ignobility that is Proposition 8, has reframed his view to one in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Ever since he came out with his summer of 2012 change of heart, Blankenhorn has been consistent about wanting to move on to what he sees as the other concerns pertaining to marriage. That being the case, I'm not that surprised (even if fascinated) to see that his organization, the Institute For American Values, is now vowing to get beyond contrived "culture war" and focus on marriage's true threats:

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Marriage—A New Conversation [IAV]

It's a good move. Remember, this is the organization that used to employ Maggie Gallagher. When I started doing this site nine years ago, IAV was kind of like NOM is now. I saw that organization as being very much in opposition to me, my love, my family, and my rights. It seriously does make me happy to see this change.

However, I can't leave my thoughts there. The fact of the matter is that David Blankenhorn is someone who helped turn same-sex marriage into a national "culture war" debate. He is the man who did Bush era interviews where he told the American citizen that "[i]f you support marriage and want it to be this robust social institution, then you ought to think twice about saying you're for gay marriage." This is the man who used his credentials as a self-described liberal Democrat to give California voters "permission" to vote for Proposition 8. This is the man who funded IAV, in large part, with cash from groups that are heavily invested in the "culture war." This is someone who helped raise Maggie Gallagher's platform. And, of course, this is the witness who lent his name and support to defending Prop 8 (even if many believe he actually harmed the proponents' case more than he helped).

Again, I am sincerely grateful that David, Elizabeth Marquardt, and the other IAV staffers who I used to know as being quite willing to play "culture war" games with my marriage have decided to do what LGBT people have been begging "marriage protectors" to do for years: move on to actual threats to the institution. However, I can't pretend like this whole "culture war" over same-sex marriage drummed up itself. There were actors who made the choice—the choice, of their own free and educated will—to mine profit, publicity, and political access from a clear matter of constitutional fairness that should have been quite palatable to any non-hostile scholar who put mind to the subject. David Blankenhorn not only put mind to the subject and still came out against us—he used his intellectual heft to throw scholarly weight behind the anti-equality cause. That just is.

I will gladly work with him moving forward, but I'm not willing to "unknow" what I know to be true.

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