The shift continues

More evidence that the anti-marriage crowd has given up, discriminatory amendment activity notwithstanding: Right wing Town Hall contributor Michael Medved tells us that Elton John Solves Gay Marriage Controversy.

Sir Elton managed to annoy many with these remarks last week at a New York fundraiser:

“We’re not married,” he told the press, “Let’s get that straight. We have a civil partnership…I don’t want to be married! I’m very happy with a civil partnership. The word ‘marriage,’ I think, puts a lot of people off. You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships.”

But look what happens when someone suggests that separate might actually be equal – a major cheerleader for inequality seizes on it as a shining example of reasonableness, and ends up making the argument that gay and lesbian couples should have exactly the same state and federal rights that heterosexuals in civil marriages enjoy. I think that’s quite an advance. Thus spake Medved:

If more people on all sides of this issue embraced the simple, irrefutable logic of this clear-thinking superstar, a vastly divisive, unnecessary controversy could reach a successful and amicable solution.

Well, then. I’m sure Mr. Medved is available to explain to anyone who opposes full civil equality for same sex couples why that position contributes to a vastly divisive, unnecessary controversy.

Just to be clear: Separate is not, and by definition cannot be, equal. We got a ping on this post, quoted as a counterpoint to Elton:

Isn’t the codification of a separate, parallel institution for some couples in itself a powerful signal to think of those couples and that institution as something unequal? And that inequality in turn reinscribes the idea that gay people themselves are unequal.

Yes. I absolutely stand by those words. That’s exactly what the anti-marriage zealots say when pressed to explain what they’re so hysterical about: What they can’t abide is the idea that our love, our worthiness as spouses, our families, are “the equivalent” of heterosexual marriage. At its heart, the problem is that they can’t let go of the idea that the way they were made is better than the way we were made. And that’s why this is a civil rights struggle.

Why is Medved’s concession so significant? Because it makes clear that the only anti-marriage argument left with any traction at all is this “separate but equal” one. With some regional exceptions, there is no longer adequate support for a movement to deny same sex couples the rights of marriage, and the anti-marriage movement has been backed into a defensive posture of “but you have everything but the name!” This is a step-wise process. It won’t be clear to some people that it’s insufferably silly and redundant to have two parallel institutions for exactly the same thing* until they see it. That’s ok. What matters more is that they have the opportunity to see it. The end result is just as inevitable.

*The exception will be those unfortunate people who reduce the meaning of marriage to a vulgarity, i.e., merely a specific genital act. They have our sympathy.

Photo credit: Wockner

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