Pro-Prop 8 Expert Witness Announces Support For Marriage Equality
June 22, 2012 5:09 pm ET by Carlos Maza
For years, David Blankenhorn has played a unique role in the anti-gay community. Blankenhorn – who is the founder of the Institute for American Values – identifies as a “liberal democrat,” but he’s been a vocal opponent of marriage equality. In his 2007 book, “The Future of Marriage,” Blankenhorn criticized same-sex marriage for allegedly denying children of gay parents access to their biological parents.
In 2010, he was one of the few witnesses called to testify in defense of California’s Proposition 8. On the stand, he was eviscerated by Judge Vaughn Walker, who criticized Blankenhorn for his failure to “provide cogent testimony in support of proponents’ factual assertions.”
In a Friday op-ed for The New York Times, however, Blankenhorn announced that, although his basic objections to same-sex marriage hadn’t changed, he could no longer continue opposing the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry:
But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
Blankenhorn also lamented the extent to which opponents of marriage equality were being driven by “anti-gay animus":
I had hoped that the gay marriage debate would be mostly about marriage’s relationship to parenthood. But it hasn’t been. Or perhaps it’s fairer to say that I and others have made that argument, and that we have largely failed to persuade. In the mind of today’s public, gay marriage is almost entirely about accepting lesbians and gay men as equal citizens. And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus. To me, a Southerner by birth whose formative moral experience was the civil rights movement, this fact is profoundly disturbing.
As Box Turtle Bulletin’s Timothy Kincaid noted, Blankenhorn’s evolution shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Despite his anti-equality activism, he’s always made explicit his desire to show respect for same-sex couples, shying away from much of the anti-gay rhetoric of his allies. While others seemed focus on demonizing and stigmatizing homosexuality, Blankenhorn seemed genuinely concerned with pursuing what he thought was best for children.
Still, his announcement is significant. Because of Blankenhorn’s unique political background, he’s long been touted by anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Family Research Council (FRC). NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher had repeatedly written in defense of Blankenhorn’s position, calling him a “dear friend.” His decision to publicly support marriage equality leaves these groups with one less spokesperson to distract from the anti-gay rhetoric that motivates them.
In response to his op-ed, Gallagher posted a National Review Online column titled “David Blankenhorn Gives Up,” writing “I wish you well, old friend.”