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02/06/2014

Transferring 'Roe' to unrelated row; hoping to 'Wade' way off sinking ship

by Jeremy Hooper

Social conservatives are desperate to make the marriage fight seem like the new Roe. They need it to be so that they can talk about (and profit from) it for years and years to come.

Here's the newest effort to say that the desire to marry the love of your life is just like the choice to end a pregnancy:

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 At 2.47.55 PmThe redefinition of marriage and the abortion license flow from the same cultural lie: That the individual, but not the family, is of basic social and moral value. That personal adult fulfillment trumps the needs of children—who can be deliberately deprived of their own parents, or extinguished, if only our sense of fulfillment demands it. That sex has no inherent procreative significance and no value besides its power to please.

Redefining marriage would more formally and finally elevate those untruths into law, giving them greater cultural currency. It would also make it harder to rebuild the broken marriage culture that increases the demand for abortion. Just as family life fulfills marriage, so robustly protecting life calls for protecting marriage.

—Socially conservative writer Sherif Girgis (he cowrote a book with NOM cofounder Robert George) opining on The Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse site

I've heard my marriage blamed for many things. Being blamed for "increases [in] the demand for abortion" is a particularly novel one.

Of course the truth is that our marriages protect our families; protect kids (including those with same-sex parents, those who grow up LGBT themselves, and even those who love and respect their gay relatives); and places a heightened, not lessened, value on sex and its power of connectivity. Just because Mr. Girgis does not personally respect our families, the idea of LGBT acceptance among children, or the value of homosexual sex does not make his points any more valid. At least not outside of his own choirs and/or think tanks.

As I've argued before, these social conservatives who are trying to convince Americans that the marriage debate = the abortion debate are actually making their cause look even more politically contrived than it otherwise would. It's no wonder that they're trying to forge such an alliance, as credible poll numbers on marriage make it quite clear that eighteenth birthdays are the "protect marriages" Achilles Heel. However, there attempt is so clearly forced, the cause so clearly different, and the inroad-ing so clearly motivated by opportunistic (GOP) politicking that, in my view, it only makes them look weaker, more down and out—and more desperate.

Mr. Girgis disagrees. He sees a longgame:

We must do on marriage, even before we get a full-on “Roe on marriage,” what we’ve been doing for years on life issues, even after the actual Roe: investing the long-term political, legal, cultural, and spiritual capital to win down the line. And if redefined marriage is built upon a lie—about the human good and the common good—then it will eventually take its place on the ash-heap of history alongside so many other “inevitabilities” (like Marxism, or settled support for abortion access) built on lies. But to play our own part in dismantling the lie, we can never flag in bearing witness to the truth.

While I do thoroughly enjoy listening to a (young, unmarried, non-parenting) man wishing for a government that legally estranges me from my husband and daughter, I believe Mr. Girgis is hitching his wagon to a falling star. This kind of mumbo jumbo—which is still mumbo jumbo, even if dressed up in Ivy League prose—might pay his bills for a few more years and score him a few more invites to whatever gala of whatever organization mentor Robby George discriminates into existence on that given year. But if he's truly betting on a future that watches TV Land reruns of Modern Family and wonders how it ever could have found Mitch and Cam's relationship valid and worthwhile enough for either high ratings or high court ruling, then I have some property in the political wilderness that I can sell him for the purposes of echo chamber construction. I won't be needing it.

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