Earlier this month the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) “Commentator Accountability Project” included me on their list of people who deserve special scrutiny before they can be engaged as commentators on the marriage debate. But it is organizations like GLAAD that need to be held accountable for the impact of their rhetoric on the public debate.
According to the GLAAD website, I have held myself out as someone who purports to be an “expert on the lives of LGBT people.” Evidently (and unbeknownst to me) I have devoted my career “making life more difficult for LGBT people.” Although these extreme statements have since been scrubbed from the site, the organization continues to claim that “Bias is Not Balance.” The undeniable implication is that my views are baseless. GLAAD’s systematic policy of slapping negative labels on their opponents without actually engaging them in debate reduces the quality of discourse in the public square.
Out of the hundreds of thousands of words I have spoken or written, GLAAD found a grand total of four quotes as evidence of my supposed “extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.” One of these is that I say redefining marriage will marginalize fathers from the family, because fathers will be considered inessential. GLAAD acts as if this were self-evident evidence of anti-gay bias.
This is very peculiar, as the claim that redefining marriage will marginalize fathers from the family is not a statement about the behavior, character or motives of same sex attracted people, male or female. It is simply my forecast of one consequence of redefining marriage. I believe it with all my heart, and have said so on numerous occasions, citing a variety of reasons and evidence. I am not the slightest bit ashamed of this forecast.
My training is in economics. Economists examine how changes in public policies alter people’s incentives, and hence their behavior. So it is natural for me to ask, What will happen if we remove the gender requirement from marriage? I wonder what society will look like after 30 years of agents of the state making statements like this one from the Iowa Supreme Court: “The traditional notion that children need a mother and a father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else.”
You may disagree with me about how likely it is that making marriage a genderless social institution will marginalize fathers from the family. Or you may disagree with my assessment of the harm it would do. But you cannot deny that this is a serious question about the possible impact of changing the law and culture of marriage.
Evidently GLAAD believes that raising legitimate questions about the group’s preferred policies automatically makes a person “anti-gay.” But surely one can disagree with policies advocated by the National Education Association without hating every teacher in America, just as one can surely oppose policies advocated by the NAACP without being a racist.
Redefining marriage raises questions that deserve to be fully aired. Trying to discredit skeptics changes the subject. Equating all disagreement with evidence of bias lowers the intellectual level of the discussion. These rhetorical tactics do not do the gay lobby any credit. In fact, responsible people of all parties should shun these strategies and make room for honest debate on this momentous question of changing the fundamental structure of our most important social institution.