No White Flag. Ever.

Barb Wire

By Michael Cook

It’s sad to witness columnist Ross Douthat’s devolution into a cheese-eating surrender monkey. For years, his was the only voice at the New York Times to put the case, often eloquently and persuasively, against same-sex marriage. But last weekend he ran up the white flag. The battle is all but over, he lamented. In the not-too-distant future, the Supreme Court will follow the logic of recent decisions like US v. Windsor and redefine the institution of marriage to include gay and lesbian relationships. He concludes:

“We are not really having an argument about same-sex marriage anymore, and … we’re not having a negotiation. Instead, all that’s left is the timing of the final victory — and for the defeated to find out what settlement the victors will impose.”

This bleak panorama is dangerous. If the battle is all but won by supporters of same-sex marriage, what point can there be of campaigning, of framing new arguments, or donating?

Too much is at stake. Douthat fears that people with deeply-held convictions, mostly religious, will become victims of discrimination. “Now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don’t get to negotiate anymore,” he writes. But pressure on religious individuals and institutions is just the beginning of a revolution.

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Acceptance of the moral legitimacy of homosexuality and same-sex marriage upends pillars of Western culture, including the Enlightenment approach to science as the exploration of reality with reason and evidence. And if you think that I am drawing too long a bow, just read a recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics by two British women, Rachel Bingham and Natalie Banner. It is a gem of ideological fanaticism.

The mise en scène is a discussion of homosexuality’s controversial history as a psychiatric disorder. In the first edition of the Bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), in 1952, it was classified as a “sociopathic personality disorder.” In the second edition in 1968 this was softened by classifying homosexuality as a “sexual deviation.” In 1972, in the third edition, however, after years of lobbying and debate, it was declassified the by the American Psychiatric Association. Victory! Homosexuality, according to the world’s leading psychiatric body, was a normal form of sexual expression.

What reasons were put forward for this amazing turn of events? This is where the analysis of Bingham and Banner — who have not a milligram of homophobic bile between them — gets interesting. There weren’t any. “It is widely accepted,” they write, “that ultimately the removal of homosexuality was not so much an outcome of new scientific knowledge, as … ‘an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times’.” In other words, declassification was a nakedly political decision. Evidence, shmevidence. Who needs that?

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The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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