A Brief Debate On Political Gradualism, Gay Rights, and Abortion

I got a response from someone I went to high school with about something I shared on Facebook.  It follows from a previous debate, which is long-lost in my activity log, but this exchange was extremely terse, and too interesting not to share.

This is the content I shared which comes from a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s blog:

“I’ve been following your coverage of the same-sex marriage debate fairly closely, and I must say that I simply don’t understand why you want a gradual approach to the issue. If you believe that same-sex marriage is a right, which I do, why in the world do you think that it shouldn’t be given to everyone in EVERY state NOW? Earlier today you quoted MLK, linking, rightly I think, the current push for gay rights to the earlier movement for African-American civil rights. I think MLK would be horrified by your gradualism. From his “I Have A Dream” speech:We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”


Anonymous: Russ, in no way do I mean to start a rant. You are obviously very passionate about this issue. However, a while back I made the same argument about abortion, and even though we both agreed that abortion was wrong, you said the gradual decrease of abortion you believed would come from nationalized health care was the better way to go than a law banning abortion. Here, you seem to now be going against the point you made a while back. My goal here is not to attack your view on same sex marriage, but rather to get you thinking again about abortion. From what you have said here, a law banning abortion would be the far better, and moral approach. Your thoughts?

RussellI think that is a fair point, but also think because of the many institutional changes that need to happen in healthcare and family planning–the endeavor to stem abortions will necessarily take longer. It is not opaque to me why the rights of a fetus are considered a civil right for anti-abortionists, nor, even if one agrees with the cause of rights for SSM, am I surprised that it is viewed as a more pressing civil right, but I tend to take the utilitarian rather than the morally prescriptive view on abortion. If for no better reason than the utilitarian one works. 

In other words, a ban on gay marriage is simply that. It is not a ban on gay couples, a ban on civil unions, or even a ban on gay adoption. It is merely the last effort to delegitimize a class of people that are neither going away nor are going to accept the right to be a part of an institution that garners legal protections. And just as there have been sodomy laws, anti-gay laws on the books, we have always had gays.

Similarly, we have always had abortions, despite anti-abortion laws. The solution to the messy moral question of abortion will not have a legal solution, but a scientific one. And given that we now have the science to get abortions very close to zero, we should put our efforts and wallets behind it. 

Equal protection for gays requires no more than repealing DOMA. No tax laws need to be changed, because there are already guidelines and tax-definitions for married couples. There is no need for religious institutions to recognize or perform gay marriages because marriage is a civil institution, and my hunch is that there are plenty of churches accepting enough to perform them anyway.



Author: The Blue Route

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