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December 17, 2004

Gay Marriage, Arab Democracy. Pick One.

Now, just hear me out before you start shouting, m'kay?

If, as Mickey Kaus notes, open Democratic support for gay marriage would complicate the War on Terrorism;

"Even if you favor making gay marriage a central, non-negotiable Democratic plank, the fact remains that this greatly complicates any Democrat-led struggle against Islamic extremists (because, as my emailer notes, it alienates even Islamic moderates). That's another reality Beinart doesn't seem to want to confront. (Better to talk about 1947!) How exactly would a Dem president who declares gay marriage a "morally momentous" principle convince civilized, non-terrorist, observant Muslims that their religion and culture is compatible with Western-style economics and democracy?"

then isn't the same true of open Republican support for gay marriage? If one accepts the correspondent’s thesis that American support for gay marriage would prevent moderate Islam from taking the American side in the struggle against extremist terror--a no brainer if there ever was one--then the political leanings of the President and the party in power matter not one whit. When it comes to swaying the moderate Muslims, a Republican embrace of gay marriage is just as much of a self-inflicted wound as a Democratic embrace would be.

This may come as a surprise to some, given the blue-state vilification heaped on Bush since he played Roadrunner to the Kerry campaign's Coyote in November, but Bush hasn't always been seen as the gay Antichrist

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was the first to complain, firing off a letter to the White House.

"I'm concerned that the president thinks that counterfeit institutions such as same-sex unions are OK, that he doesn't see that they threaten to devalue the real thing," Perkins told USA Today. "The president needs to be clear and unequivocal about his position on marriage and any counterfeit institution to motivate that base in the party."

but rather as a politician attempting the traditional feat of splitting the difference when it comes to a controversial issue.

President Bush said in an interview this past weekend that he disagreed with the Republican Party platform opposing civil unions of same-sex couples and that the matter should be left up to the states.

Mr. Bush has previously said that states should be permitted to allow same-sex unions, even though White House officials have said he would not have endorsed such unions as governor of Texas. But Mr. Bush has never before made a point of so publicly disagreeing with his party's official position on the issue.

When it comes to gay marriage--and I say this as a supporter of that theoretical institution--given the times, given at least some of the President's history on the matter, and given the demonstrable fact that a so-called "gay backlash" had little to nothing to do with his re-election, shouldn't the White House stance on gay marriage be seen more as a critical wartime propaganda tool rather than as a cynically adopted election year policy?

When it comes to the War on Terror, shouldn't gay marriage be seen in the same light as Hirohito's removal from the Chrysanthemum throne was in World War II--as a worthy goal but one not worth the extra casualties that would be incurred in achieving it?

Japan's Prime Minister Suzuki spelled out the problem of "unconditional surrender" well for doves and hawks alike when he publicly announced on June 9, 1945, "Should the Emperor system be abolished, they [the Japanese people] would lose all reason for existence. 'Unconditional surrender', therefore, means death to the hundred million: it leaves us no choice but to go on fighting to the last man."

The United States could embrace gay marriage, at the cost of moving hundreds of thousands of Muslims into the "actively opposing" category. More enemies mean more casualties on both sides of the struggle, just as demanding Hirohito's abdication would have in 1945--which raises the inevitable question for those like myself and Andrew Sullivan, who support both the WoT and gay marriage. How many extra casualties is gay marriage worth?

For myself, I'd have to say "None." Gay marriage, or some form of it in all but name seems inevitable to me in the U.S., as it will be in the Arab world once democracy is established there. In a generation, it will be an accepted part of life there, just as the Emperor's powerlessness and figurehead status is accepted in Japan. It's less than a generation away in the U.S.; risking more casualties in order to speed the process up makes little sense.

Posted by Bigwig at December 17, 2004 11:11 AM | TrackBack
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Good history bit. Good point.

Advantage: The thinking man's rabbit.

Posted by: Stephen at December 17, 2004 03:51 PM
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