During a panel discussion about neoconservatism at the New School's Tishman Auditorium in New York, Ross Douthat, conservative op-ed columnist for The New York Times, became tongue-tied when an audience member asked about gay marriage. The audience member, Christopher Glazek of The New Yorker, wanted to know whether Douthat believed that former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, who has apologized on behalf of the GOP for the Southern Strategy, should also apologize for the party's stance on gay issues, including its opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
According to The New York Observer, Douthat fumbled an initial response before saying, "I am someone opposed to gay marriage who is deeply uncomfortable arguing the issue in public." Douthat said he opposes gay marriage because of his religious beliefs but doesn't like debating the issue in those terms. He added that the GOP's opposition to gay marriage is "a losing argument," wondering aloud whether committed same-sex relationships should be denied the same recognition automatically given to the short-term unions of heterosexuals like Britney Spears and Newt Gingrich.
After the panel, Douthat told the Observer, "If I were putting money on the future of gay marriage, I would bet on it.
"The secular arguments against gay marriage, when they aren't just based on bigotry or custom, tend to be abstract in ways that don't find purchase in American political discourse. I say, 'Institutional support for reproduction.' You say, 'I love my boyfriend and I want to marry him.' Who wins that debate? You win that debate."
The panel discussion, titled "Meet the Neo-Cons: They're Young, They're Bright, They Tilt to the Right" and conducted October 20, was sponsored by n+1 magazine.