It doesn’t take much to become a household name. Just be drop-dead gorgeous and be willing to express a controversial opinion. That’s how it worked for Carrie Prejean. When she was asked by Perez Hilton whether she thought gay marriage should be legalized in all fifty states, she responded with this gem:
“Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And, you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.”
Taking Robert Stacy McCain’s advice, here’s a gratuitous glamour show of the lovely Prejean:
Now regardless of your opinion on gay marriage, you have to agree that this is a confusing, contradictory answer that should not be taken as a substantive policy statement . So then, what was the reaction of opponents of gay marriage, particularly those in the conservative media? They made her into a hero. She was given frequent appearances on the Fox News Channel. She was given a book deal at the tender age of 22. She was even given a speaking spot at the FRC Action Values Voter Summit, the top annual conference for social conservatism whose slate of speakers included senators, congressmen and potential presidential candidates like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty.
Carrie Prejean might have been interesting as a one-day story, but why was mainstream conservatism so eager to embrace her? Looking at exit poll data for California’s Proposition 8 might provide an understanding. 61% of voters under 30 voted against Proposition 8. There is an increasing perception that opponents are a bunch of old fogies and hags (take a good look at Maggie Gallagher) and Prejean offered a opportunity for a young, glamorous spokeswoman that the movement so desperately needed. But as the old cliché goes, not everything that glitters is gold. The tapes that have been discovered show have obviously been embarrassing for Prejean, but more importantly, like the case of Sarah Palin, it shows the dangers for conservatives when they put style over substance.
Almost all arguments make against gay marriage are made in the abstract. The leading opponents have refused to make substantive predictions about what will happen to society if gay marriage is enacted. They just utter bromides about how it will “weaken the institution of marriage.” So then, what are the substance arguments against gay marriage? In a March 2004 piece in the Weekly Standard, Gallagher makes a case based an tradition:
MARRIAGE IS A PRE-LIBERAL INSTITUTION, a hybrid that fits uncomfortably inside our existing intellectual frameworks. It is older than the U.S. Constitution, older than Locke, older than the Christian church. Government did not create marriage. One cannot call such a social institution into being merely by passing laws. Since government depends on religion as well as culture to help sustain the norms that make marriage an effective social institution, a widening gap between “religious marriage” and “civil marriage” is itself a destructive development.
We’re Americans. We don’t believe in standing still. We are constantly changing, evolving and yes, improving. That conservatives are reduced to making tradition-based arguments for concedes the argument. They’re basically saying, “This is the way it’s always been and who are you to question it?” Also, that Gallagher makes such a blatant appeal to religion means that non-religious Americans will have no reason to take up the fight for traditional marriage. As I so often do, I’ll quote Ayn Rand:
The plea to preserve “tradition” as such, can appeal only to those who have given up or to those who never intended to achieve anything in life. It is a plea that appeals to the worst elements in men and rejects the best: it appeals to fear, sloth, cowardice, conformity, self-doubt—and rejects creativeness, originality, courage, independence, self-reliance. It is an outrageous plea to address to human beings anywhere, but particularly outrageous here, in America, the country based on the principle that man must stand on his own feet, live by his own judgment, and move constantly forward as a productive, creative innovator.
The argument that we must respect “tradition” as such, respect it merely because it is a “tradition,” means that we must accept the values other men have chosen, merely because other men have chosen them—with the necessary implication of: who are we to change them? The affront to a man’s self-esteem, in such an argument, and the profound contempt for man’s nature are obvious.
Source: The Ayn Rand Lexicon
Gay marriage is an issue where I find the leading advocates on both sides to be intolerable. Gavin Newsome and Perez Hilton are both scumbags although their views on gay marriage are only incidental. I don’t have much of a dog in this fight, but I will say to gay marriage opponents that it’s not too late for you to reclaim the argument. Make a positive, secular case that preserving the current definition of marriage is the interest of all members of society. Anything less is a glorified “but that’s how I was raised.” The debate will rage on with or without Prejean, but the fact that she was even given a role in this shows the intellectual bankruptcy of today’s social conservatives.