A crucial moment

By Bill Gnade



I know that some of you, maybe all of you, are not as alarmed as I am by the seemingly imminent change in the marriage laws in NH. But I think that we, as Republicans (or those sympathetic to Republican principles), should take the issue of same-sex marriage seriously. I am not advocating hate towards homosexuals; I am not suggesting anything like second-class status for a minority. The laws currently provide for civil unions in NH; that status gives effective coverage for gay couples.


This is all about something much broader. This issue is partly about the redefinition of marriage, spouse, family; of what it means to be human. But because it is also couched in terms of civil rights; because gay marriage has been bound (unjustifiably, I believe) to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Republicans stand to lose a great deal. Why? Because we once again shall appear to be the party that oppresses people, that "denies rights." (Republicans, as you know, have always been instrumental in procuring equal rights for African Americans, the revisions to the historical narrative notwithstanding.)


Hence, we must make a decision: to either view gay marriage as a right, or not.


And here, in part, is the rub: this issue is in part intended to divide Republicans, to drive a wedge through the party. On the one hand, there will be those who will accept the narrative that gay marriage is a civil right. On the other, there will be those who do not believe it to be a right at all.


What to do? I, personally, have made my stance quite clear. I agree with the majority of African Americans who believe that the struggle for gay marriage rights is not at all like the struggle for equality endured by African Americans. Let me explain.


There was a popular pro-gay rights bumper sticker that read, "We are everywhere." It is an ironic confession. Homosexuals indeed have been everywhere, and they ARE everywhere. In fact, gays and lesbians for years have enjoyed high stations in the arts, film, theater, journalism; there are gays and lesbians in high (and low) places in government, in medicine and finance and science and religion and academia. They are on sports teams and attend Ivy League schools. They are, without a doubt, everywhere.


I remember sharing lavatories and dorm rooms with gay men in college; I ate in the same dining hall and walked along the same quadrangle as my lesbian schoolmates; I knelt in chapel with homosexuals and bi-sexuals. There were NO doors through which homosexuals could not pass.


But there was a time, even a time in my lifetime, when African Americans were not allowed everywhere. They could not wash in certain lavatories or eat in certain dining halls. They could not play on certain sports teams or attend certain colleges. No African American has ever stuck to his car a sticker that read "We are everywhere" precisely because African Americans were NOT everywhere (and they may not even have had a car).


In other words, America has been wildly accepting and tolerant of gays and lesbians. There has never been the gay equivalent of Jim Crow laws. Gays ARE everywhere, while many African Americans today still(!) do not believe that blacks are everywhere at all.


And here is my point: heterosexuals -- at least many of them -- have shown an incredible willingness to share all kinds of things with gays and lesbians. Except for one thing. Just ONE thing, a thing that heterosexuals want to keep for themselves. And that ONE thing is marriage. That's it! That's the ONLY limitation we have EVER really placed on gays and lesbians: You can cross all thresholds but one, the threshold of marriage. This one thing we seek for ourselves, our children, our families. Please, leave us just this one thing.


I am afraid, however, that gay marriage activism is really just one part of a much bigger trend. Gay marriage will, even if unintentionally, pit parents against children, at least those children conditioned by the state (and pop-culture) to see marriage as nothing more than a mere choice. Removing the rational and natural basis of family -- two parents of different sexes -- undermines the rational ordering of society: in order to believe gay marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage one must choose to be blind to nature and reason. And, as you know, it is not ignorance that is the gravest threat to society. The gravest threat is the illusion of knowledge, and there is no greater illusion than to think that two men "married" are equal to a married man and woman.


Hence, and here's the broader point, if we permit unreason or the irrational to define the very essence of marriage and family, then we invite irrationality into other areas of our lives. "Fairness" and "equality" will begin to dominate discussions about money, taxes, governance. Envy, always irrational -- "Look at what they have! We have a right to it, too!" -- will rear its ugly head in law, policy, and ethics. The very cornerstone of a healthy democracy is that reason is reasonable, and always so; that 2+2 IS NOT equal to 1+1. But envy politics, and its derivative identity politics, make equal what are not.


What is before us? Well, in part, we are witnessing a loss of control over what we will be permitted to pass along to our children. The death or estate tax is not merely about taxation; the philosophical basis for it is to keep families from passing down advantages to their children. Similarly, higher taxation leads to less disposable income, especially for those families who choose to send their children to schools that will teach the values such families support; with less income, families may opt instead for public schools. And it is these very schools that intend on indoctrinating children for utopian ends, for ends democratic and "fair" and "equal"; in schools where "advantages" are tamped down and where "family" is open to discussion and redefinition. And where marriage means what anyone wants it to mean -- because that is only fair.


Philosophically gay marriage, death taxes, higher tax rates, "fairness", "giving back" -- all are born not of reason, but of envy. And envy has no limits.


Perhaps I've not made myself clear here. Forgive me. I risk alienating you, I know. But gay marriage is more than just a simple little correction in law. It is a major transformation of culture, of education and anthropology. And it stands to be used as a major tool to weaken the Republican Party, particularly the conservative dimensions of that party.


I urge you to take a moment to email Governor Lynch and ask him to veto HB 436, the same-sex marriage bill. (You may email him atthis link.) If you want to read what I essentially told him -- that HB 436 is intrinsically bad legislation for both legal AND religious reasons -- you can read my (expanded) letterhere.


Again, I ask for your forgiveness in presenting my thoughts to you, thoughts you might find offensive. I do not presume that you agree with me. Think of this more as someone casting a net in hopes of catching a friend or two. It would be self-flattery to think that I'd find everyone agrees with me, and it would be rather depressing if I found no one who did. My hope is simply to find some allegiance to ideas that have stood the test of time. If you agree with me, please, take a moment to email the governor. And pass along this note if you believe it has merit.




Bill Gnade