The Bulwark’s Jonathan Last is the latest conservative commentator to take up a line that is increasingly popular amongst the Never Trump right: If the Democrats don’t pivot toward the center they’re going to lose in 2020. The argument is relatively straightforward: The Democrats are running against an exceptionally weak incumbent in 2020.

Therefore, they can practically assure themselves of victory by running a fairly vanilla center-left campaign and avoiding self-inflicted wounds, such as campaigning hard on policies that are unpopular with many Americans. In short: More Biden and Mayor Pete, Less Bernie and Warren

While there is a plausibility to this analysis, it is mistaken for at least two reasons.

First, as you might recall, the Democrats have won every popular presidential vote save one since 1992—and the one defeat came in 2004 against a popular incumbent while running an uninspiring opponent. Even in 2004, President Bush’s margin of victory in the popular vote was basically identical to Hillary Clinton’s popular vote triumph in 2016—hardly a resounding triumph, that.

The Republicans have, of course, won two presidential elections while losing the popular vote. But this requires winning a number of vital swing states by relatively slender margins. This is precisely what happened in 2016 when around 800,000 voters in four rust belt states swung the election.

Thus the Democratic margin for error is larger than the GOP’s—and even if Biden or Buttigieg might win by a larger margin in the electoral college, as long as the Dems clear 270 the relative margin of victory isn’t that important barring the still unlikely event of a Democrat takeover in the Senate.

That is the boring, nuts-and-bolts reason that I am skeptical that a Warren or Sanders candidacy would go so far left that it costs the Democrats the election; certainly it could cost them votes, but the Dems have more votes to spare than does the GOP.

The more fundamental reason is also the more interesting. Consider: In 2004 31% of Americans supported redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Only 13 years later, in 2017, that number had doubled. This transformation of public opinion is one of the defining facts of our political era. And for the young Democrats who have been part of that transformation (and the older Democrats who enjoy broad support amongst the party’s young left) the experience of this transformation is instructive: Political persuasion is still possible.

It is easy to think that American political opinions are fixed. After all, recent years have seen major presidential candidates in both parties give up on persuasion. Whether it is Mitt Romney’s 47% remarks in 2012, Hillary Clinton’s “baskets of deplorables” comment in 2016, or… well, the entirety of the Trump campaign, our recent history is full of stories in which both parties have assumed that the path to victory is not found via persuasion, but via running sufficiently militant campaigns that can animate the entrenched base and motivate them to vote. Thus the common wisdom on both sides has been that getting out the vote amongst one’s base is the surest path to victory.

But amongst many younger Democrats there is belief that persuasion can still occur. They have already seen it happen on gay marriage. Warren and Sanders are both particularly primed to believe in the possibility of persuasion for other reasons.

Sanders has been an immovable, old-school leftist for the entirety of his career—a dinosaur who experienced an improbable rebirth in 2016 despite the mainstream of the Democratic party opposing his campaign and many practically laughing at it in its earliest days. Warren, meanwhile, is a teacher who spent most of her career watching people engage evidence and adjust their thinking accordingly inside her classroom. She has also experienced a fairly radical transformation in her own political thought over the years. Recall that prior to her work on bankruptcies in America Warren was, by all accounts, fairly conservative.

Even in the past several months we have seen a clash between the old and new guard of the Democratic Party in which the evidence seems to vindicate the Warren-Sanders wing of the party. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, adhering to the center-left moderation that the Never Trump contingent counsels, has been resistant to calls to impeach President Trump. The young left, meanwhile, argued that an impeachment investigation would give Democrats the best opportunity to make the case for removing Trump from office by concentrating the argument around a single focal point.

Since the Democrats have united around the call for impeachment polls show support for removal of the president trending upward. On September 7, polls on impeaching Trump were split 52-39 against. Those numbers held consistently even for several days after the Ukraine whistleblower story broke. But once the Democrats united around the call for impeachment, we saw a sharp increase in support: On October 14, the split was 50-44 in favor and support has generally stayed in that range ever since.

The spike hasn’t been limited to Democrats finally becoming more resolved either. Republican support for impeachment had hovered around 9% for most of the past year. But by mid October it had spiked to 15%, though it has dipped in the last two weeks. Independent support, meanwhile, had stood at 33% for much of the year but has been in the mid to high 40s for much of the past several weeks.

The lesson: The young left of the Democratic Party has a clear set of political ideals they believe in. They are willing to argue for those ideals. They believe that they can persuade people who do not yet agree with them.

Thus the choice to run a genuinely left wing campaign on the part of both Warren and Sanders may not be as much of a risk as some critics think. It may merely be in keeping with their belief that persuasion is still possible even in 2019—and on the evidence so far there’s a good case to be made that they are right.

Enjoy the article? Pay the writer.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $0

Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy and author of "In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World." He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell and Austin. Jake's writing has appeared in Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

  • I have a problem with the way you use the word ‘persuade’ here. If by ‘persuade’ you have some minimalist sense of “shift opinion” as when you say “Political persuasion is still possible” followed by “It is easy to think that American political opinions are fixed” then that’s fine, I guess, although I would like to reserve the word “persuade” for an activity that is more concrete and appropriate (e.g., to gain someone’s assent by an appeal to reason).

    But at other points in the article it almost sounds as if you’re using ‘persuade’ in some more specific sense than “shift opinion.” For instance, you say that Warren has had a “career watching people engage evidence and adjust their thinking accordingly…” and that young Democrats “are willing to argue for” their ideals–‘argument’ being another term commonly indicating an appeal to reason or evidence.

    Yet when I look at how Warren and Sanders have “argued,” it isn’t any different than Republicans or Trump have “argued.” Surface level appeals are made that are implausible on their face to those who don’t already buy into a host of partisan assumptions and these are themselves couched in demagogic rhetoric.

    So, for instance, is Warren counting on the public’s sensitivity to reason and evidence when she refused to say that she will raise middle class taxes? No, she was behaving in a way that makes more sense if she thinks that people are more susceptible to demagoguery than reason. Is Warren counting on the public’s sensitivity to reason and evidence when she proposes a healthcare plan that would cost something like 5 trillion a year?

    Warren and the rest of the democratic candidates (some more than others) clearly behave in ways that indicate that they believe people are sensitive to assertions made with the right affectation. That the majority of people will only focus on the immediate claim being, rather than the broader context–as, for example, when they claim that Trump appeals to fear and then turn around and say that if Trump win reelection America will be fundamentally transformed and lost (an appeal to fear).

    Of course, Republicans engage in the same demagoguery. The facts you point out regarding shifts for support in gay marriage or Republicans losing popular vote can be accounted for by the fact that Plato and Aristotle were always right: the masses will always be more susceptible to demagoguery than logic. Democrats have two things on their side here: the love and, thus, “goodness” of their policies are more immediately self evident than Republican policies and, as Democrats have themselves pointed out, the demographic shift, which is inevitable, is in their favor.

    To borrow a picture from C.S. Lewis: suppose you have two mothers. One says she will take the child for ice-cream and then to Disney World and then let him stay up as late as he wants. The other says she will make her child eat vegetables and then send him to school and make him go to bed by eight. Both mothers could behave in this way and not love their child, but if there is love in either policy then the love behind the second mother’s policy is not immediately evident (it’s main benefits are further along into the future) and why the first mother’s behavior is unloving is not immediately evident.

    Now by setting up that analogy I don’t mean to suggest that, in fact, Republican policy is more loving or correct. But IF Republican policy is correct then its correctness is more indirect and more long-term than Democrat policy.

  • hoosier_bob

    I don’t know that I’m entirely persuaded.

    First, progressivism is not nearly as popular in the putative swing states as it is at a national level. Further, I think we tend to overestimate the degree to which these are pie-in-the-sky proposals. When the rubber meets the road, these proposals will be less progressive than they are in the headlines.

    Second, I’m not sure that SSM is a good example. Support hit a nadir in 2004 following two years of aggressive—and generally dishonest—campaigns by social conservatives. Support was at about 37% in 2002. Two things occurred in the ensuing years. Pro-SSM groups gained their footing and mounted an effective campaign to discredit social conservatives. And gay people of all stripes emerged from the closet. We easily forget that, in 2004, Elton John was the picture of what it meant to be a gay male because most gay men remained in the closet. Neil Patrick Harris came out in 2006, and then the floodgates opened from there. Elton John has now become an outlier in the movement he once symbolized. He’s been pushed aside by Anderson Cooper and Pete Buttigieg. I don’t think that the shift on this issue would have been so dramatic but for the decision by social conservatives in the early 2000s to eschew rational arguments in favor of peddling conspiracy theories and playing to people’s ignorance. When the campaign of 2002-04 was shown to be a sham, there was little defense remaining.

    • BWF

      It is interesting to think about what would have happened if, around 2003 after the Massachusetts ruling allowing same-sex marriage, social conservatives had been more willing to compromise, whether by allowing civil unions as a compromise, de-nationalizing the campaign to stop same-sex marriage, or some other way of diffusing the issue. This era was really a crossroads on this issue, and Bush’s decision to make this a wedge issue in order to win re-election was probably a point of no return event.

      I’ll say this: in this alternative scenario, the de-weaponizing of religious freedom would lessen the tensions that are still present today, which could only be a good thing.

      • This assessment on the same sex marriage debate is bizarre. Some of the most common arguments for same-sex marriage were incredibly facile, like “love is love” or even just a demagogic question that the average person felt stumped by: “Why should two people who love each other not be allowed to get married?”

        The “arguments” were, on the whole, so shallow that clearly reason was not driving that debate. It was the result of an erosion in serious moral thought and practice that lead to the shift. It was the fact that society was able to be tossed to and fro by surface level arguments that aligned with some inarticulable sense if “ickiness” that won the day.

        This is why people who felt so sure of the force of the question “Why should two people who love each other not be allowed to get married?” were left speechless by the simple retort “So a father and son who love each other then?”

        One had lost its ickiness, the other had not. And society had become shallow enough that this was sufficient.

        • hoosier_bob

          The arguments made by Andrew Sullivan and others were certainly more sophisticated than the bumper-sticker arguments you cite. That said, the phrase “love is love” provides a thumbnail sketch of a salient equity-based argument. As Carl Trueman and others noted, our culture abandoned traditional marriage in the early part of the 20th century. For quite some time, our culture—including conservative Protestants—viewed marriage principally as an embodiment of mutual romantic and sexual attractions. If gay people possess analogous such attractions to members of the same sex—and the evidence suggests that many of them do—then the government has little rational basis for refusing to extend the legal protections of civil marriage to such committed couples. That’s especially true where, unlike in traditional times, we would deem gay people to be unfit for opposite-sex marriage (due to an inability to experience romantic and sexual attraction to a partner).

          That argument is no slam dunk. But it’s a fact-based rational argument, which is a far cry better than anything that social conservatives proffered at the same time. Instead, social conservatives treated us to arguments based on inaccurate stereotypes, subjective disgust, and appeals to biblical authority. Arguments based on stereotypes lose their power as soon as one meets a sufficient number of people who defy the stereotype. And arguments based on disgust do the same as soon as one meets a sufficient number of gay people who are not disgusting (and whose attraction to each other is not merely reducible to gay sex). And appeals to biblical authority don’t carry much traction in a pluralistic culture whose government isn’t supposed to be in the business of doing the local bishop’s bidding.

          When the tide had largely turned, social conservatives turned to the whole “conjugal marriage” bit. But that too fell flat, as it sought to critique gay relationships by a standard that we had long since ceased applying to judge straight relationships.

          In the end, the tide turned on this issue so quickly because the principal arguments in favor of SSM went forward without meaningful rebuttal. Like the President they now roundly embrace, social conservatives sought to win this issue by ignoring rational debate and focusing instead on filling the air with lies and bluster. That strategy backfired, mainly because millions of ordinary gay people—doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc.—decided to come out of the closet and push back against the vicious and dishonest ways in which they’d been portrayed. Social conservatives were caught with their pants down, and it was all over from there.

          I’m sorry, but it was the social conservatives who were proffering the shallow arguments on this one.

          • The arguments made by Andrew Sullivan and others were certainly more sophisticated than the bumper-sticker arguments you cite.

            Concisely spell one out for me and let’s see.

            That said, the phrase “love is love” provides a thumbnail sketch of a salient equity-based argument. … If gay people possess analogous such attractions to members of the same sex—and the evidence suggests that many of them do—then the government has little rational basis for refusing to extend the legal protections of civil marriage to such committed couples.

            Nothing you say anywhere in your response demonstrates a “salient equality-based argument” that avoids the rejoinder (reduction) which I already gave. Simply asserting that it is “a fact-based rational argument” doesn’t magically make it so.

            So, a father and a son who love each other then?

            When the tide had largely turned, social conservatives turned to the whole “conjugal marriage” bit.

            There was no “turn” here. This has virtually always been the rationale for marriage. It’s why, for instance, Plato in his Laws stated that not having children within 10 years was grounds for divorce.

            filling the air with lies and bluster.

            What were the lies and bluster?

            it was the social conservatives who were proffering the shallow arguments on this one.

            I already gave an example of a shallow argument for same-sex marriage. You didn’t deny that same-sex marriage advocates made this argument, you simply asserted that it provides a thumb-nail sketch of a salient fact-based argument. Yet you failed to provide that argument (or at least you failed to provide anything that wasn’t immediately open to the reductio I already gave). So you’ve yet to demonstrate that you aren’t engaging in the standard shallow playbook.

            Please be specific. What were the shallow arguments made by traditional marriage advocates? What were the straw-man arguments made by traditional marriage advocates?

            In addressing the conjugal marriage argument you say:

            But that too fell flat, as it sought to critique gay relationships by a standard that we had long since ceased applying to judge straight relationships.

            This is another display of shallow thinking. By this same exact logic, a German living in Nazi Germany could dismiss any argument for the human dignity and value of Jews based on the claim that “we have long since ceased applying that standard to Jews.”

            I’m afraid you’re not helping the case for a non-shallow rationale for same-sex marriage here.

          • hoosier_bob

            The answers to most of your questions can be found with a few taps of the fingers and a search engine. This kind of disingenuousness, which has become standard fare for social conservatives, illustrates precisely why the culture weighed the moral worth of your arguments in the balance and found it wanting.

            Further, I note that you’ve offered nothing in the way of rational argument besides a bigoted reference to subjective disgust. The argument I offered was a sketch of a basic equal-protection argument in favor of same-sex marriage. If you want to read a further fleshing out of that argument, read Judge Posner’s excellent opinion in the Baskin case. (For the record, I disagree with the notion that SSM bans contravene substantive due process.) Also, you’re free to consult Andrew Sullivan’s book and his numerous articles. To suggest that proponents of SSM only proffered facile arguments is simply a lie.

            And, as to the possibility of fathers marrying their sons, I’d suggest that it would be handled in the same way that we’ve always handled cases of fathers wanting to marry daughters. The reasons for which we don’t permit the latter would seem to apply equally to the former. And, yes, this kind of silly casuistry, which may play well when preaching to the choir, is easily dismissed with a modicum of rational reflection. The fact that you’re grasping for these kinds of witless arguments further illustrates why the broader culture was justified in rejecting your position.

          • The answers to most of your questions can be found with a few taps of the fingers and a search engine.

            Well, sure. That can be done with absolutely every topic. But if you had a specific argument or argument(s) in mind I figured it would be easiest for you to summarize them rather than me sift through the various articles and try to figure out which ones you think are good.

            This kind of disingenuousness, which has become standard fare for social conservatives, illustrates precisely why the culture weighed the moral worth of your arguments in the balance and found it wanting.

            Me asking you to summarize which arguments you think are good is disingenuous? Surely you can’t be serious! If you are serious, then clearly you are the one who is being disingenuous to play this rhetorical game in which you pretend as if I’m disingenuous for asking you to state an argument.

            And then to pretend as if this sort of “disingenuous” request for reasoned argument is “why the culture weighed the moral worth of” traditional marriage “in the balance and found it wanting” is in fact a demonstration of what I originally said: shallow thinking on the part of same-sex marriage advocates is what won the day.

            It was the shallow thinking of people who treat the request for an argument as “disingenuous” that managed to sway the masses.

            Further, I note that you’ve offered nothing in the way of rational argument besides a bigoted reference to subjective disgust.

            It’s a reductio. If two men should be allowed to get married because “love is love” then a father should be allowed to marry his son because love is love.

            The reductio demonstrates how shallow your thinking is on this subject. That you try to avoid answering it by name calling (“bigoted”) and then labeling it “subjective disgust” is rather amusing and a further demonstration of shallow thinking.

            Maybe you’re the bigot because, in your bigotry, you fail to realize that “love is love” and, thus, that a father should be allowed to marry his son. Maybe you’re the bigot for thinking that’s “disgusting.”

            Simply rhetorically stomping your feet isn’t a serious rejoinder.

            The argument I offered was a sketch of a basic equal-protection argument in favor of same-sex marriage.

            And everything you said logically justified a father in marrying his son. So do you oppose that or not? If not, then clearly your reasoning is shallow and you need to come up with a more sophisticated argument for same-sex marriage that can exclude a father marrying his son.

            If you want to read a further fleshing out of that argument, read Judge Posner’s excellent opinion in the Baskin case.

            Why don’t you save me time and sketch out that one?

            To suggest that proponents of SSM only proffered facile arguments is simply a lie.

            Based on your interactions here I’d say it’s right on the money.

            And, as to the possibility of fathers marrying their sons, I’d suggest that it would be handled in the same way that we’ve always handled cases of fathers wanting to marry daughters. The reasons for which we don’t permit the latter would seem to apply equally to the former.

            Again, you evidence having not thought through this very deeply. The reason usually given for why a father can’t marry his daughter is due to genetic risk of the children that they may have. But obviously this objection doesn’t apply to fathers marrying sons–which is why I specifically chose a father and a son. (The objection in relation to fathers and daughters is also shallow and fails to work according to same-sex marriage logic, which denies that children are a relevant concern who is the appropriate candidate of marriage, but spelling that out would have taken me more time than simply side-stepping that objection altogether.)

            And, yes, this kind of silly casuistry, which may play well when preaching to the choir, is easily dismissed with a modicum of rational reflection.

            I’m still waiting on that modicum of rational reflection from your side of the table….

            The fact that you’re grasping for these kinds of witless arguments further illustrates why the broader culture was justified in rejecting your position.

            The fact that, at this point, you still don’t have an answer the simple reductio I posed yesterday, but are instead hiding behind rhetorical bluster, is illustrates the truth of my original claim: shallow thinking lead people to grasp at shallow slogans like “love is love” and then pretended as if there was some deeper truth behind that shallow struggle… but, as you’ve nicely demonstrated, when pressed we see that there is no depth beyond the shallow slogan.

          • hoosier_bob

            Thanks for illustrating why most people have given up hope expecting SSM opponents to come forward with anything resembling a rational argument. I’ve sketched out a cogent equal-protection argument, pointed you to a case that fleshes out that argument in great detail, and directed you to Andrew Sullivan’s book and many articles. Even so, you insist on clinging to this “love is love” straw man. As I repeatedly explained, even if people used the phrase, they didn’t intend for it to stand alone. It is a thumbnail reference to a rational argument. Yet you refuse to engage the argument it represents, and instead engage an argument that no one is making but you (and other social conservatives).

            This kind of intellectual dishonesty illustrates perfectly why SSM opponents lost the debate in the public square. You wasted your efforts constructing and slaying straw men. Meanwhile, serious arguments in favor of SSM went substantially unrebutted.

            And what have you proffered in the way of rational argument? All you’ve come forward with is your subjective opinion that gay people are disgusting. If such an averment doesn’t qualify as bigotry, then I’m not sure what does.

            Lastly, social conservatives are constantly saying that discrimination against gay people based on sexual orientation is not comparable to discriminating against non-whites based on race. You keep promising us that you have nuanced, non-bigoted arguments to support your views and to distinguish SSM opponents from Bull Connor. I’m starting to believe that that’s a not the case. If, in your ten comments on this thread, you can’t proffer anything better than “gays are disgusting,” then the culture is going to be entitled to judge SSM opponents as the modern-day children of Bull Connor, John Stennis, and George Wallace. The ball is in your court.

          • Thanks for illustrating why most people have given up hope expecting SSM opponents to come forward with anything resembling a rational argument.

            And thanks for illustrating the shallow thinking of same-sex marriage advocates.

            I’ve sketched out a cogent equal-protection argument

            You’ve sketched out an argument that logically supports fathers marrying their sons. Then you’ve thumped your chest and declared that it’s cogent, while trying to avoid the question of whether fathers should be allowed to marry their sons by punting to why daughters shouldn’t be allowed to marry their fathers for reasons you don’t state.

            pointed you to a case that fleshes out that argument in great detail, and directed you to Andrew Sullivan’s book and many articles.

            Sure. And like I said, we can do this with anything. So I could just point you to books, articles, and dissenting opinions in court cases that provide counter-arguments.

            By doing that would I be proving to you that traditional marriage advocates not guilty of lies and strawman arguments as you accuse them of?

            If you don’t think so, why are you under the delusion that you’ve done so?

            Because you and I are having a dialogue right here, I figured you could summarize those arguments right here. Now if you had simply said that you’d rather not get into that debate then okay, fine. But then you want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to pretend as if you’ve made a cogent case for same-sex marriage and then you want to punt on the reductio I presented you and pretend as if mentioning other sources proves you right.

            Even so, you insist on clinging to this “love is love” straw man.

            Now you’re being dishonest and you’re trying to shift the narrative. Why are you trying to shift the narrative? Because you couldn’t make the defense that you originally set out to make over the last two days.

            Notice that two days ago when I first criticized the “love is love” and “Why can’t two people who love each other get married?” reasoning of same-sex marriage advocates you did not say that I was attacking a straw man. Instead you accepted that these were things same-sex marriage advocates actually said and you attempted to defend “love is love”! Thus, you said:

            That said, the phrase “love is love” provides a thumbnail sketch of a salient equity-based argument.

            Two days ago you thought “love is love” was defensible and attempted to defend it and now you claim “love is love” is a just a straw man I’ve concocted.

            You have either no self-awareness or no low you won’t sink to in your sophism.

            As I repeatedly explained, even if people used the phrase, they didn’t intend for it to stand alone.

            As you’ve repeatedly demonstrated, there is nothing forthcoming which can buttress the shallowness of their thinking. You can claim that there is some depth behind the slogan if you want. But so far you’ve only provided us with some pseudo-depth that I showed was immediately open to the original reductio which I raised against it.

            It is a thumbnail reference to a rational argument.

            And when you attempted to sketch that rational argument I demonstrated it was open to the same reductio as the shallow slogan and, thus, that your sketch of a rational argument had no more depth than the original slogan.

            Yet you refuse to engage the argument it represents, and instead engage an argument that no one is making but you (and other social conservatives).

            So you don’t seem to understand how a reductio works in this case. You say “We should all x because of y” a reductio attempts to show that ‘y’ also entails ‘z’ and if we should ‘x’ because of ‘y’ then we should also ‘z’ because of ‘y’.

            Now you can do a couple of things at this point. (i) You can try to show that ‘y’ doesn’t entail ‘z’. (ii) You can bite the bullet and also endorse ‘z’. (iii) You can concede that ‘y’ isn’t a good reason for ‘x’ and try to find a new reason for ‘x’ other than ‘y’.

            So far, you’ve feebly attempted strategy (i) by asserting, without argument, that some reason (which you’ve never given) for why daughters can’t marry fathers probably applies to why sons can’t marry fathers. In your latest attempt you’ve suggested Obergefell doesn’t allow daughters to marry fathers (though, again, you don’t say why) and that this probably applies to fathers and sons (thogh you don’t say why). But you’ve also not shown why Obergefell has anything to do with original suggestion (love is love) or reductio (fathers and sons).

            So, as you can see, the claim that I haven’t engaged the argument it represents is false. I engaged the original claim (love is love) and then I engaged your attempt to buttress the original claim. Now you’re pretending as if there is some other deep proof of this claim out there somewhere and pretending as if I’m at fault for not engaging it.

            This kind of intellectual dishonesty illustrates perfectly why SSM opponents lost the debate in the public square.

            I’ve demonstrated your own intellectual dishonestly in this thread by accusing me of erecting a straw-man after you already conceded the legitimacy of the alleged straw-man and even attempted to defend it. And so your behavior in this thread actually demonstrates my original point, which is that the average person, the masses, is shallow and swayed by demagoguery (the same sort of demagoguery you’ve attempted to regurgitate here by calling me a bigot for using a reductio to defeat your argument).

            You wasted your efforts constructing and slaying straw men.

            Which means You wasted the last two days trying to defend my straw-man? Weird. Why did you do that and only now come to the conclusion that you would no longer defend an argument you didn’t think your side was making to begin with?

            Meanwhile, serious arguments in favor of SSM went substantially unrebutted.

            Since these allegedly “serious” arguments have remained unstated, there has been nothing for me to rebut.

            And what have you proffered in the way of rational argument?

            A reductio, which you attempted to get around via strategy (i), but which I showed was still open to the same reductio.

            ll you’ve come forward with is your subjective opinion that gay people are disgusting.

            The reductio has nothing to do with gay people being disgusting. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re willing to bite the bullet on ‘z’. In fact, one might say that you’re constructing a straw-man here of how the reductio works.

            If such an averment doesn’t qualify as bigotry, then I’m not sure what does.

            Take a look in the mirror. Bigotry would be defined as something like holding to a moral stance without good reason or against good reasons to the contrary. (If you prefer a different definition the I’m open to hearing it.)

            Now, do you fit the definition of a bigot? Arguably, yes! You don’t believe sons should marry their fathers even though you don’t have any good reasons as to why they shouldn’t and when, according to reasons you think are valid in one case (two unrelated men, love is love), you magically think don’t apply in the other case (two related men, love is love).

            So if you’re not sure what qualifies as bigotry then I suggest yourself as a candidate.

            Lastly, social conservatives are constantly saying that discrimination against gay people based on sexual orientation is not comparable to discriminating against non-whites based on race. You keep promising us that you have nuanced, non-bigoted arguments to support your views and to distinguish SSM opponents from Bull Connor. I’m starting to believe that that’s a not the case. If, in your ten comments on this thread, you can’t proffer anything better than “gays are disgusting,” then the culture is going to be entitled to judge SSM opponents as the modern-day children of Bull Connor, John Stennis, and George Wallace. The ball is in your court.

            You’re introducing a whole new issue here. If your point in bringing up this new issue is to demonstrate that traditional marriage advocates are themselves open to the charge of being shallow, or if you were introducing the new issue to make good on your earlier claim that traditional marriage advocates have been guilty of lies and straw-men, then that’s fair game.

            But instead of doing that you then draw attention to my “ten comments on this thread” and how these ten comments failed to “proffer anything better than ‘gays are disgusting'”. This is utterly bizarre since my ten comments would include my comment to Jake’s article which had nothing to do with the current topic of same-sex marriage and I’m not sure why you would expect me to explain why gay people are not like black people in that comment. And if you don’t expect me to address that issue in that comment, why do you include it in your count of comments that don’t address that issue? You might as well go to all my other comments on disqus and point out that I haven’t addressed the issue in some 100+ comments.

            Why? Well it’s pretty obvious why. You’re just saying “ten comments” for the rhetorical effect it will give to your sophistry. Of course, by your own method of what counts a legitimate rebuttal, you might just go and do a google search. But then at this point the sophist would, rather than recognize their own sophistry, try to make hay out of why I don’t summarize the answer here. But my point was not that one *must* summarize all arguments upon request, but that one can’t have their cake and eat it too. If you want to defend ‘x’ then do so. If you don’t want to defend ‘x’ then don’t half-ass it and then put on the pretense of having done so.

            In this case, I’d rather not get into a new area of discussion with you on this area. I don’t find you to be engaging in good faith. You think the same thing about me. (Hence, accusing me of straw-men, bigotry, dishonesty, etc. all of which I think reflect back upon yourself in the very act of making them.)

            Thus, rather than see if two people who don’t find one another to be good-faith dialogue partners can make progress on some additional subject, I’m happy to leave it here.

          • hoosier_bob

            I’ll offer one final response. I’ve engaged with you here mainly because I believe that your line of argument perfectly illustrates the precise tactics that social conservatives employed in the SSM debates. And our engagement here illustrates perfectly why you lost on this issue and why most people will conclude that further punitive measures against SSM opponents are necessary and warranted.

            You seem to be hanging everything on this father-son ruse. That’s nothing but a red herring. The centerpiece of any equal-protection argument is a comparison of two classes—a reference class and a test class—that are situated relative to each other in a reasonably similar way. Before Obergefell, fathers were not generally free to marry daughters. The same remains true today. So, the reference class, for purposes of an equal-protection analysis, cannot include father-daughter combos, as all members of the reference class must be the recipients of a legal benefit that is afforded to them and denied to members of the test class (in this case, civil marriage). Thus, because father-daughter combinations are excluded from the reference class, father-son combinations are likewise excluded from the test class. Sure, if you try to include father-son combinations in the test class, the argument fails. But that’s a failure in the construction of the test class—a failure that is easily remedied by excluding father-son combos from the class. After all, the test class does not include everyone who is denied the benefit in question, as certain people may be denied the benefit for other legitimate reasons.

            Of course, I suspect that you understand all of this perfectly well. You’re feigning ignorance to obfuscate the weakness of your position. If you had a good counterargument to make against the arguments that flow from a reasonably constructed test class, then you’d make that argument. By eschewing that opportunity in favor of engaging in this not-so-clever casuistry concerning fathers and sons, it suggests that you have no reasonable counterarguments to proffer. After all, people who have solid counterarguments have no need to engage in casuistry and obfuscation.

          • DR84

            This is pathetic, you really cannot help yourself. John clearly laid out the two men, unrelated “reference class” vs two men, related “test class” comparison. He also showed that if the man and woman “reference class” vs two men “test class” fails equal protection then so does the two men, unrelated vs. two men, related.

            You have done nothing at all to show John is wrong expect to attempt to obfuscate. Which includes falsely accusing John of what you are guilty of. This is pathetic, and I suspect you know exactly what you are doing and yet do it anyway. No one denies your tactics are effective, yet that doesn’t make them any less shameful and disgusting.

          • DR84

            Hoosier, you are a liar and a fraud. I’ve read every comment of John’s and he has not said anywhere anything like “gay people are disgusting”. Insisting Andrew Sullivan and Judge Posner really do have serious arguments without outlining said arguments is also bad form. How is anyone else supposed to know what you find compelling with respect to what they have said? This tactic does fits the pattern of the fraud you plainly are.

            This equal protection argument is even worse than the shallow sloganeering that “love is love”. Empty slogans are merely meaningless, this equal protection argument has been refuted by a basic fact. Two men simply cannot do and commit to what a man and woman can. There are two sexes and it matters. There is no equality. As of 2019 the conjugal view has also not been abandoned. You could not be more wrong in claiming it has been and was long ago. Men and women that marry still are committing to lifelong, faithful unions. Broader society still does recognize that husband and wife belong to each other, and something is wrong if either has another lover (so much for “love is love”). This well known expectation, that again is still very much known in 2019, that marriage is and must be faithful and permanent is at the heart of the conjugal marriage argument made by Anderson, Girgis, and George.

            As far as I can tell, all you are demonstrating is that deceitful tactics like using empty slogans, constructing shallow arguments, and blatant lying are politically effective and people that use them can succeed at confusing some and bullying others into submission. You are a fraud, you are a liar, and I would say much more but it would not be civil.

          • You’ve also displayed something of the original point of my response to Jake Meador’s article:

            Liberals (or Democrats, more narrowly) give a thin veneer of wanting to give reasoned argument but it’s really mostly just demagoguery (“bigoted”) which they try to pass off as if it were serious, deep engagement. What little reasons they do give are firmly embedded in assumptions which are question begging to those who don’t already agree with them.

            (And as I mentioned Republicans often do the same.)

        • BWF

          I’m not talking about the morals or theology of same-sex marriage. That’s something that I don’t think either of us are going to reach an agreement on.

          I’m talking about history. And yes, I’m using a counterfactual, but it’s still an important question to ask: if the issue of same-sex marriage hadn’t been weaponized in 2003-2004, what differences would be apparent today?

          • I’m talking about history. And yes, I’m using a counterfactual, but it’s still an important question to ask: if the issue of same-sex marriage hadn’t been weaponized in 2003-2004, what differences would be apparent today?

            This is called a complex question fallacy. First you’ll have to explain what it means for something to be “weaponized” and then show that the issue of same-sex marriage fits that criteria.

            I might just as easily assert that leftists “weaponized” autonomy.

          • BWF

            I’ll generalize my question to try to get to the heart of the issue:
            Is it worth it to take an action that ensures a solid, short-to-midterm gain, at the expense of greater losses in the long-term?

          • I’ll generalize my question to try to get to the heart of the issue:
            Is it worth it to take an action that ensures a solid, short-to-midterm gain, at the expense of greater losses in the long-term?

            Why would you think it’s interesting to think about whether it’s worth it get less value instead of more value when, as you’ve defined it, it isn’t?

          • hoosier_bob

            I think his point is fairly clear. On the issue of SSM, social conservatives satisfied themselves with a short-lived gain (re-electing GW Bush and having four more years of conservative judicial appointments) at the expense of their long-term position in the broader culture on this question.

            Social conservatives knew in 2002 that the tide was already turning on this issue. By 2002, a majority of people below 40 and a majority of college-educated professionals already supported SSM. At that time, it would have made sense for both sides to have negotiated a stable compromise that protected the core liberties that each was seeking to possess. In 2002, social conservatives rejected that course, and plowed ahead with a media blitz that played off of the ignorance and fear of older, less educated voters. It worked in the short term. They helped re-elect GW Bush and shifted public opinion slightly in a reverse direction. But that campaign sparked a cultural backlash, as such campaigns always do. And because social conservatives were already losing ground on this issue, the backlash caused them to lose ground even faster in the ensuing years. Thus, the position of SSM opponents in the culture is far worse today than it would have been had they simply sought a reasonable compromise on the issue in 2002.

            That’s why weaponizing religious liberty is also going to fail. If the Washington florist is free to impose her values onto her customers and refuse to engage in a fungible transaction with gay people, then major corporations clearly have the liberty to establish corporate values and enforce those values against employees. And all the Trump-appointed judges in the world can’t help you because most large companies increasingly require employees to sign arbitration agreements that require them to litigate all claims for wrongful termination within the context of private binding arbitration.

            So, way to go! You won one for the small business owner. In the process, you gave up the farm for everyone who isn’t a small business owner.

            That said, part of the problem for social conservatives is that many of these strategic decisions are made by older people who have little skin in the game. The people driving these campaigns are living in gated golf communities in Hilton Head, and have little to gain or lose by the outcome of these cultural skirmishes.

          • I never said his point wasn’t clear. For someone throwing around the term “straw-man” you have a penchant for shifting to a false narrative. I said that his question was an instance of the complex question fallacy. When he tried to abstract the particulars away from the issue, his question became true-by definition and uninteresting.

            The entirety of your second paragraph is just arm-chair narrative building. Take this for instance:

            Social conservatives knew in 2002 that the tide was already turning on this issue.

            Where’s the evidence about what conservatives knew and then what’s the evidence that “the tide” turning was inevitable?

            We could go through each sentence of your narrative and question its premises. It’s just a string of extremely broad assertions about what people knew, did, or (in your mind) what would have worked without any specifics. And when I’ve asked you for specifics, you’ve dodged the question.

            So, for instance, you assert again here that “social conservatives … plowed ahead with a media blitz that played off of the ignorance and fear of older, less educated voters.”

            Please give me the specifics. Point to the media blitz. Point to what was said that appealed to fear or ignorance. (It’s not that I don’t think *no* conservative appealed to fear and/or ignorance, but I wonder whether what you’re labelling “fear” is in fact question begging–meaning whether the fear is legitimate will depend upon one’s priors–given your penchant for demagoguery on display in this thread, I’m a bit skeptical of the specifics you have in mind. And I doubt how widespread this was–hence why I’m asking you to point to the “media blitz” you have in mind.)

            That’s why weaponizing religious liberty is also going to fail.

            What is meant by “weaponizing”, such that it’s not just a rhetorical tactic? Please lay out the criteria for me.

            If the Washington florist is free to impose her values onto her customers and refuse to engage in a fungible transaction with gay people, then major corporations clearly have the liberty to establish corporate values and enforce those values against employees.

            Again, what do you have in mind that these corporations are doing? Give one or two examples, please.

            So, way to go! You won one for the small business owner. In the process, you gave up the farm for everyone who isn’t a small business owner.

            Again, what do you have in mind here? Without specifics I really don’t know what you’re talking about. It sounds as if you think conservatives might be against people hiring or firing based on values or that a small business owner is barred from the same liberties of a big corporation. I’m really not sure why you would think either, but maybe you have in mind something different.

            That said, part of the problem for social conservatives is that many of these strategic decisions are made by older people who have little skin in the game. The people driving these campaigns are living in gated golf communities in Hilton Head, and have little to gain or lose by the outcome of these cultural skirmishes.

            The people who are driving *any* campaign tend to be older and wealthier. That’s due to the nature of the hurdles to large scale mobilization. This is how you take a mundane fact and try to embed it into a narrative in a way that makes it seem nefarious even though it is just an ordinary fact that applies to any movement. This idea that social conservatives are being driven by some shadowy detached elite and the social liberals are just a grass roots movement with no big money or elite mobilization is a joke.

      • hoosier_bob

        I agree. I don’t think that social conservatives ever appreciated how weak their hand was on this issue. I’m not sure why. I recall in 2003, when a socially conservative colleague drove his wife’s minivan to work one day. The vehicle bore an anti-SSM bumper sticker. Before noon, he’d been terminated for cause. His termination was met with widespread approval. And this wasn’t in some Coastal bastion of liberalism. It was in Ohio…in 2003.

        To anyone in the professional world, it was clear that this was a losing issue in the long run. There’s a reason why Bush and Rove jettisoned it as soon as the election was over. They knew that the issue had passed its shelf life by 2005. Social conservatives would have been wise to follow their lead and sought to make peace. Instead, they elected to fight to the bitter end, and now have sought to get a second bite at the anti-gay apple by promoting a weaponized version of “religious liberty.” This isn’t going to end well either.

        • I don’t think that social conservatives ever appreciated how weak their hand was on this issue. I’m not sure why.

          I don’t think you appreciate how weak your thumb-nail sketch of the so called salient fact-based defense of “love is love” argument was on this issue. I’m not sure why.

          • hoosier_bob

            If it’s so weak, why can you provide no rebuttal except for objections rooted in nothing but subjective notions of disgust? Besides, as I explained, it’s a thumbnail summary of a basic equal-protection argument.

          • If it’s so weak, why can you provide no rebuttal except for objections rooted in nothing but subjective notions of disgust? Besides, as I explained, it’s a thumbnail summary of a basic equal-protection argument.

            So should a father be allowed to marry his son?

          • hoosier_bob

            Should a father be allowed to marry his daughter? Permitting civil SSM makes the father-son scenario no more likely than the father-daughter scenario before Obergefell.

          • You’re switching the goal posts. You’ve abandoned the “love is love” or “Why can’t two people who love each other get married?” reasoning and instead pointed to Obergefell and asserted that the reasoning of Obergefell makes both unlikely.

            But how does Obergefell make either one unlikely? You made the assertion, so you have the burden of proof.

            Show me how Obergefell makes a son marrying his father unlikely?

            The fact is that the shallow “love is love” or “Why can’t two people who love each other?” reasoning of same-sex marriage advocates does justify a father marrying his son.

            Same-sex marriage logic ALSO justifies a father marrying his daughter, though explaining why here takes a bit more time since same-sex marriage advocates have attempted to address why a father shouldn’t be allowed to marry his daughter by appealing genetic risks of any children they might have. This explanation doesn’t work when it comes to fathers and sons, and so they have no answer as to why a father shouldn’t marry a son.

            But their explanation of why a father shouldn’t be allowed to marry his daughter also fails because same-sex marriage advocates have argued that marriage has nothing to do with children–in which case they cannot then introduce the hypothetical consideration of children to exclude certain couples (like a father and a daughter) from being married.

            This exposes the hypocrisy of same-sex marriage advocates. They have no consistent principle, just a conclusion they want to reach.

          • hoosier_bob

            As I’ve said repeatedly, and as the thread easily demonstrates, that was never my position. I even explained to you that, for most SSM proponents, the phrase functioned as a thumbnail for a more detailed argument.

            The point you’re arguing against is nothing but a straw man of your own concoction. Neither I nor any SSM proponent bears an obligation to prop up a straw-man argument that you’ve fashioned for your own purposes.

            That said, this is indeed typical for how social conservatives engaged in the public debate on this question. As a result, the actual arguments that SSM proponents proffered went forward without serious rebuttal.

          • As I’ve said repeatedly, and as the thread easily demonstrates, that was never my position. I even explained to you that, for most SSM proponents, the phrase functioned as a thumbnail for a more detailed argument.

            You’re misrepresenting the thread. You claim that “for most SSM proponents, the phrase functioned as a thumbnail for a more detailed argument.” Right, and I never denied that or constructed any straw-man argument. Instead, I demonstrated that even this allegedly “deeper” or more “sophisticated” argument was subject to the same reductio as the slogan. Hence, there is no deeper argument, just the same shallow logic with more verbiage.

            The point you’re arguing against is nothing but a straw man of your own concoction.

            Nope. No straw-man. You’re attempting to throw around labels, that you can’t substantiate, in hopes that a sympathetic audience might just take your word for it. Else, demonstrate how my straw-man differs from the actual argument.

            That said, this is indeed typical for how social conservatives engaged in the public debate on this question. As a result, the actual arguments that SSM proponents proffered went forward without serious rebuttal.

            I’m happy to go back to this well as long as you are. Your interaction here is typical of how same-sex marriage advocates had a shallow approach to the issue. Hence, they were lead around by the sort of demagoguery and sophistry which you’ve engaged in here. And thus, you’ve demonstrated the truth of my original remarks.

          • DR84

            So called ssm proponents never offered up any arguments, they only threw out non sensical slogans like “love is love” and bullied and berated their opponents. This is no doubt an effective political strategy, but that’s it. There simply is not now and never has been any kind of argument for “ssm”. Mainly because no argument is possible because there is nothing any two or three men must do or must commit to in order to become “married” to each other, nor can two or three men commit to the same permanent, life giving union a man and woman can.

            Of course, I am well aware that “ssm” proponents always wanted to look past reality and focus on marriage as merely a legal status when that suited them, and then to conveniently suggest it is much more in the Jack Philips case. They are a slippery bunch after all. Yet the narrow legal status view fails the father-son question as mentioned here. There is no rational reason two men, father and son, can’t apply for a legal status named marriage if two men, who met that afternoon, can.

        • This isn’t going to end well either.

          Seems to have ended well for the cake-baker, Jack Phillips. Huh?

          • hoosier_bob

            I agree with the outcome of the Masterpiece case. No one should be compelled to speak (or write) words or phrases that violate their conscience.

            That said, it’s a Pyrrhic victory. In the wake of that, most major corporations adopted much more aggressive policies in connection with employees who may engage in speech or conduct that would call into the question the merit of SSM. And, these days, people fired for allegations of sexual harassment or protected-class discrimination must usually submit their claims for wrongful termination to binding arbitration (where the employer wins more than 99% of the time and the loser has to reimburse the winner for all costs and fees that it incurred in defending the claim).

            Had social conservatives not spiked the ball in the end zone following the Masterpiece win, I doubt that there would have been a push by major employers to put a further squeeze on SSM opponents.

          • In the wake of that, most major corporations adopted much more aggressive policies in connection with employees who may engage in speech or conduct that would call into the question the merit of SSM.

            I’m not sure what you have in mind here. Can you give a specific example?

            Had social conservatives not spiked the ball in the end zone following the Masterpiece win

            Again, what specifically do you have in mind here as ‘spiking the ball’?

  • hoosier_bob

    In thinking more about my interaction with John, I think it would be better for social conservatives just owned their bigotry towards queer people. It’s fairly clear that you don’t have rational arguments against gay rights. You’re just working backwards from a conclusion that you’ve reached for reasons that have nothing to do with rational arguments. You lost the cultural battle because fundamentalist Christianity is in decline.

    • DR84

      Me too, I just read it. You could not have handled that interaction more poorly. You come across as an exceedingly arrogant and disgusting human being. Social conservatives, and faithful Christians in particular, should recognize you for the fraud you are, and others who behave like you, and act accordingly. We should not be concerned about your thoughts, feelings, and opinions. If we happen to hear your opinion, we should laugh in your face, and let you know just how ridiculous it is. There is no reason for us to pretend you have anything resembling a reasonable, civil point of you view.

      • hoosier_bob

        I’m not sure that I should dignify this with a response. Even so, this kind of “reasoning” illustrates perfectly why SSM opponents lost. If it’s “arrogant” to expect people not to engage in logical fallacies and not to misrepresent the arguments of their opponents, count me guilty. This is why you lost in courtroom after courtroom. In a court, you have to come forward with actual evidence and defend it under cross-examination. Media blitzes based on lies and misinformation avail you little in that forum. Even here, you and John have had two dozen opportunities to come forward with a rational, fact-based argument to support your position. Instead, we get casuistry concerning father-son combos and polyamory.

        • DR84

          Ok then, put up or shut up, as they say and answer this question: Can two men become married in your view without ever engaging in any kind of physical intimacy together and neither feeling any romantic feelings for or attraction to there other? If you are right, then there is a non arbitrary explanation for why they cannot. If you believe they can, then you have conceeded that if two men can marry then a man can marry his brother.

          In other words, explain why the two men, related vs two men, unrelated comparison only appears clever but is a fallacious comparison.

          • hoosier_bob

            The comparison you suggested is meaningless because you’ve not identified a proper reference class. You’re simply comparing test classes, which are not even situated similarly to each other. The brother-brother ruse fails for reasons analogous to why John’s father-son ruse fails: Brother-brother combos cannot be properly included in the test class because brother-sister combos are not included in the reference class (because all members of the reference class must be recipients of the benefit in question). Like John, you keep sidestepping the opportunity to proffer arguments against SSM in response to a properly constructed reference class and test class. Instead, you just keep proffering alternative (and nonsensical) constructions of the reference and test classes. This illustrates precisely why social conservatives lost on this point. Instead of proffering a reasonable rebuttal to arguments proffered by SSM proponents, you simply engaged in shenanigans. So, the arguments of SSM proponents went forward without meaningful rebuttal.

            Also, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to prove by your reference to “physical intimacy.” As far as I know, social conservatives still believe that couples should wait until AFTER marriage to engage in physical intimacy. And yet you’re suggesting here that physical intimacy ought to be a condition precedent to marriage. Never mind that I’m not aware of a single marriage statute in any state that requires such a thing. By your logic, the state would need to withhold marriage licenses from couples until they could attest to having engaged in physical intimacy.

            As I said above, it’s clear that you don’t have rational non-sectarian arguments to make in opposition to SSM. You oppose it merely because it offends your privately-held sectarian beliefs. Such a position is not logically different from the Muslim who seeks to deny rights to women on the basis of Sharia law. Our government has no business enforcing Sharia law, or fundamentalist Christian analogues thereof. SSM is permitted in the US for one simple reason: Fundamentalist variants of Christianity lack the political power that they once enjoyed.

          • DR84

            You’re right, we don’t have an argument against ssm. This comparison of brothers marrying vs two unrelated men marrying really isn’t an argument against ssm. You’re right about that too. You are even right that the conjugal marriage argument really isn’t an argument against ssm. So, if you are thinking we have failed to rationally explain why ssm is bad, shouldn’t be allowed, etc. I agree we have. If these sort of arguments really were primarily intended as arguments against ssm, then yes, you are probably right that we are in need of some serious soul searching. All of them, if that is the goal flat out miss the point so badly that our motives really are suspect. I agree with you there too.

            Despite having recently called you a liar and a fraud, I really do believe what I have said here. We really don’t have an argument against ssm.

            Ill even admit I personally dislike how you engage online so much so it is akin to disliking you. I suspect you feel the same way of me. Given the nature of internet engagement, I think this is ok. This is my way of saying, I’m not trying to win you over.

            That said, I believe I would owe you an apology for accusing you of being a liar and a fraud amongst other unsavory things if you are really just mistaken. So, have you considered the possibility that our arguments and reasoning are not and never have been, strictly speaking, intended to be arguments against ssm in the sense of arguing why ssm is bad, shouldn’t be allowed, shouldnt be treated equally etc?

            More fundamentally, can you even explain what ssm is and must be? Have you considered the possibility that ssm is just in the eye of the beholder?

          • hoosier_bob

            I don’t dislike you. In fact, I suspect that we agree on many things that make for wise living. After all, I’m not suggesting that SSM is wise. But, in terms of how our laws and our culture define civil marriage, I see no credible, non-sectarian basis for refusing to extend the benefits of that legal institution to same-sex couples.

            I believe that the Swiss system makes more sense. It makes a strong distinction between marriage (which centers around procreation and raising children) and mere civil partnerships. In fact, in Switzerland, many opposite-sex couples opt for civil partnerships instead of marriage. In effect, our country has abolished what was traditionally known as marriage, and replaced it with civil partnerships. We call these civil partnerships marriage, even though that’s hardly the case.

            Even so, that’s where we are. And, for that reason, I can’t come up with any reason to oppose SSM that doesn’t, in some way, draw from religious conviction. And I believe that the church and the state both suffer when we try to make the state enforce religious laws. I identify as a conservative Christian (a non-evangelical Calvinist of mixed Swiss and Scottish descent, to be specific). Even so, I’m a staunch social libertarian who believes that people should be free to make stupid and unwise decisions so long as they don’t impose the burdens of those bad decisions onto others unreasonably. Whether the lesbians down the street have a marriage license or not has no effect on me whatsoever, as far as I can tell. So, I’m content to mind my own business.

            I wish you the best. Peace in Christ.