March 26, 2004,
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ever ahead of her time, Florence King weighed in on the "gay marriage" conflagration aways back you'll find the pre-game run-down in the June 3, 1996 entry of her delightful NR column, "The Misanthrope's Corner."
It, and hundreds of others of her side-splitting (and ever insightful!) rants and rages and unrivaled analyses of all the madness going on in Americrazy, is available and waiting for you in STET, Damnit, The Misanthrope's Corner, 1991 to 2002 the complete, unedited, unabridged collection of Miss King's curmudgeonly NR oeuvre. This big (518 pages!) beautiful book is a must for every Florence fan. It is available only from NR, and can be ordered securely here. And now, on with the show . . .
Gay marriage is a consummation devoutly to be missed, but it's a dead cert. If you doubt it, try to remember the last time America turned down a vocal minority. In the Sixties we were the Girl Who Can't Say No, but she was a font of virtue compared to what we are now. Overcome by the miasmic gases of diversity and inclusion wafting from the Nineties swamp, we have turned into the Punchdrunk Kid, a twitching lummox with cauliflower ears who mumbles "Sure, Jake, sure" to everybody.
The preliminary stage of brainwashing is already underway. "Husband" and "wife" are yielding to "spouse," a vague usage that benefits no one but gays. Gov. Roy Romer recently vetoed Colorado's proposed anti-gay marriage law, calling it "mean-spirited," a word that functions in America like the bell in Pavlov's laboratory. And now Bill Clinton has announced, through his gay-liaison office, that he is "personally opposed" to homosexual marriage. This phraseology, a staple of the abortion debate, is a reminder not to let our premises stand in the way of our conclusions.
The major brainwashing, soon to begin, will proceed as follows.
Magazines will run cover stories that thinking Americans all 17 of us recognize as that brand of persuasion called "nibbled to death by a duck." Time does "Debating Same-Sex Marriage" and Newsweek does "Rethinking Gay Marriage." Lofty opinion journals weigh in with "A Symposium on," "In Defense of," and "Voices from," while Parade does "If They Say 'I Do' . . . Will We Say 'You Can't?'" Cover art consists of a pair of wedding rings sporting identical biological signs: two arrow-shooting circles for men, two mirror-handle circles for women. We will start seeing these logos in our sleep.
Next, the pundits. Molly Ivins writes "Bubba, Hold Yore Peace." Ellen Goodman waxes earnest about tradition versus change in "Something Old, Something New," Ruth Shalit writes something borrowed, and Richard Cohen, Victim America's identifier-in-chief, does a column called "We're All Single." Arianna Huffington will figure out a compassionate way to be against gay marriage, but most conservatives stand to fare badly in this debate. Will Durant wrote, "When religion submits to reason it begins to die." In a media-saturated society teeming with talk-show producers casting dragnets over think tanks, proponents of gay marriage win merely by being scheduled. By contrast, the conservative instinctively recoils from analyzing eternal verities. He may know the words to legal arguments such as "the need to show a compelling state interest, etc." but he doesn't know the tune. In the final analysis he believes in the sanctity of marriage "just because."
To liberals, the just-because mindset betokens racism. Therefore, anyone who opposes gay marriage must hate blacks. Anti-gay marriage laws will be equated with the old anti-miscegenation laws, producing tortured sophistry about "the difference between race and sex." The liberal will claim that all differences are the same, forcing the conservative to claim that some differences are more different than others. Caught in an Orwellian trap, terrified of being called a racist, he will seek safety in a soundbite of chortling folksiness.
"When a baby is born, people don't say 'it's white' or 'it's black,' they say 'it's a boy' or 'it's a girl.'"
Then Jesse Jackson and the feminists change the word order, ostentatiously placing "black" before "white" and "girl" before "boy." Remembering to say it the PC way becomes such an overriding obsession that we forget what it has to do with gay marriage, especially after Clarence Page points out that in slave days the color of a baby was indeed the first thing people noticed.
Soon, Republicans panicked by mounting accusations of racism suggest that gay couples be allowed to register their unions and establish common-law marriages based on seven years of cohabitation. But gays reject these half measures, comparing them to the irregular marriages of slavery, when couples "jumped over the broom."
All attempts at compromise elicit cries of "Second-class marriage!" and lead to lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Calling themselves "connubially challenged," gays will sue the Christian Coalition for forcing them to lead immoral lives. Arguing that marriage will keep them from promiscuity, which will keep them from getting AIDS, they will equate prohibition of same-sex marriage with capital punishment. A Clinton judicial appointee will find the "right" to gay marriage lurking under a constitutional penumbra, and CNN will give a 900 number so viewers can vote yes to prove they aren't racists.
I find it ironic that gays are now singing the praises of wedded bliss in terms that were the bane of my existence forty years ago, when "settling down" proved you were "mature and responsible." If they keep it up, they will corroborate the English prostitute who plied her trade in the States and wound up in a book about American sexual attitudes. A great many of her clients, she said, showed her photos of their wives and children. Clearly bemused, her sigh almost audible on the page, she added: "Yanks are born married."
My personal opinion of marriage reflects my status as a pariah in the Fifties snuggery of joined-at-the-hip Togetherness. "Rather a beggar woman and single be, than Queen and married," said Elizabeth I, and so say I. My objective opinion, however, conforms with Timothy Dwight: "It is incomparably better that individuals should suffer than that an institution, which is the basis of all human good, should be shaken or endangered."