By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com June 24 2012 11:11 AM ET
After David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute for American Values and author of The Future of Marriage, announced in The New York Times last week that he now supports same-sex marriage, reaction from around the country was swift but perhaps not surprising. While marriage equality activists lauded Blankenhorn's about-face (while ignoring his continued assertions that same-sex marriage is still not the same as "traditional" opposite-sex marriages), some of his old colleagues were aghast.
Maggie Gallagher responded in the National Review with a one paragraph quip: "My friend and mentor and one-time boss David Blankenhorn has just published a New York Times op-ed in which he gives up on opposing gay marriage. I haven’t yet read it carefully enough to respond, except to say that 'the argument from despair' is the single most powerful argument gay-marriage advocates wield. I wish you well, old friend."
Meanwhile LGBT activists and progressive pundits debated Blankenhorn's Times' announcement (as well as an hour-long NPR program that chronicles his change of heart), most notably Richard Kim of The Nation. Kim eloquently snarks that "Blankenhorn’s very public surrender is reason to celebrate. It’s yet another sign that it is increasingly untenable for anyone bidding for mainstream credibility to remain opposed to same-sex marriage — and he admits as much in his op-ed. Among the motives he cites for his shift are the desire to maintain 'comity' and a 'respect for an emerging consensus,' which he backhandedly allows 'may be wrong on the merits,' but to which he concedes anyway. So much for being gracious in defeat."
Still he makes a strong argument that Blankenhorn isn't quite the ally gays need, writing that "Blankenhorn once thought gay marriage could be a useful instrument to instill his regressive, archaic and punitive views on marriage in the public and in the law. He still thinks that. He’s just made a political calculation that gays are more valuable now as recruits than as scapegoats."
Read his full essay at The Nation.