The XX Factor

Tarred by the Bigot Brush

Last month, Emily B . was enjoying a dose of schadenfreude over the fall of gay marriage opponent Dr. George A. Rekers, who’s called homosexuality a “gender disturbance” and a sexual perversion, and who was caught taking a 10-day trip to Europe with a male prostitute he met through Rekers’ scandal left few remaining academics who publicly oppose gay marriage. David Blankenhorn is one of the last men standing-he was one of only two expert witnesses testifying in defense of California’s Prop 8, and the other was speaking more to a legal question than to gay marriage itself-and he accuses the media of wrongfully attempting to paint him with the Rekers’ bigot brush.

Blankenhorn puts forth a lengthy defense-he “believes in the equal dignity of homosexual love,” and he’s worked with gay marriage advocate Jonathan Rauch to explore compromises on the issue. His views are indeed nuanced: He opposes gay marriage on the grounds that it will devalue the social contract of marriage, which exists to enforce societal norms binding both parents to the care of their children. Removing the biological imperative, he argues, reduces marriage to an easily dismissed private matter, which will weaken not just the institution but society as a whole. He has only read one paper by Rekers at the request of the attorneys defending Prop 8.

Rekers, Blankenhorn says, is “the last person on earth whose views I wish to endorse.” And yet he has. Because no matter how elegant and defensible your arguments against discrimination may be, when you make them, you lay down with others who make a less appealing case. Blankenhorn accuses the media of tying him to Rekers based only on one paper in a list of things he’s read, but of course, there’s more to it than that. Blankenhorn gets linked with Rekers because they’re in agreement on a simple yes or no question that’s on our collective minds: Should same-sex marriage be legal? A full 42 percent of us say yes . Blankenhorn and Rekers both say (loudly) no. Unfortunately for Blankenhorn, many people believe that’s all there is to it. If he doesn’t like it, he may need to consider getting out of the bed.