Lindsay contributed to the Washington Post’s latest question to bloggers, “Should homosexuals be allowed to marry?”. Lindsay’s own response is a fairly good summary of the civil rights case for gay marriage, but I’d rather focus on another response, by Carl Senna. Carl Senna talks mostly about the political angle,
But as far as the politics is concerned, I believe that it has been a major political error for homosexuals to have forced the social decision to recognize homosexual marriages on the legislature. In hindsight, an organized religious authority set up for homosexuals would have been the least fractious politically for homosexuals to defend their right to marriage. A religion that preached homosexuality for homosexuals would have been able to participate in inter-faith discussions.
Actually, forcing civil rights on legislatures has been the politically smartest move in the last 20 years not only for the American gay rights movement but for the entire American left. By forcing the issue out in the open, gay marriage advocates managed to squeeze into mainstream liberalism in a time of a political shift to the right. Public support for civil unions in the US has soared in the last 6 years. In 2000, it was a fringe liberal issue; in 2002, it was a mainstream liberal one; by 2004, it was supported by the majority of Americans.
The anti-SSM propositions that have passed in many states didn’t change much. All they did was proclaim, “Our state doesn’t recognize gay marriage.” In the one state where it would’ve changed anything, Massachusetts, no such proposition has passed. Bush won in 2004 because of terrorism, not gay marriage. Even now, it looks like the Republicans are not going to be able to get votes out of the New Jersey decision.
The alternative proposal in the response, a gay church, just wouldn’t work. Interfaith coalitions don’t include everyone; they only include the largest churches, and typically the ones that acquiesce to the status quo the most. An interfaith coalition can work when different homophobic religions join together and proclaim that homosexuality is evil. It can’t work when a gay church wants to join in.
Besides, the greatest support for gay rights has come from secularists. The sort of people who support Michael Newdow almost invariably support SSM, which they see as another civil right the religious establishment suppresses. Even more moderate secularists, who are just passionate about evolution in schools, tend to view SSM bans as an extension of religious fundamentalism. Working via the church will seriously undermine that support base for no reason.