No apology necessary

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r-PSen. Gordon Smith (R-Or.), no enemy of gay rights, has apologized for comparing same-sex marriage to the polygamy practiced by his Mormon forebears. Last week he walked into this minefield for reasons of the heart, not the head.

The reaction from the GLBT community was not positive. As the Portland Oregonian reported:

“Talking about polygamy and same-sex unions in the same breath — on the face it’s offensive,” said Frank Dixon, a Democratic Party and gay rights activist. “Maybe he can explain his way out of it.”

Mormon trek.jpgHere’s the explanation. Back in the 19th century, Mormons were attacked–driven out of the Midwest, their prophet murdered–in substantial measure because their practice of polygamy violated prevailing Protestant religious norms. The principal opposition to same-sex marriage today is religious as well–just ask James Dobson or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Peculiar logic aside (how do you support states’ rights by voting for a federal Defense of Marriage Act?), Smith seems to wish that majoritarian religion butt out, and let particular communities, be they fundamentalist Mormons or gays and lesbians, do their own marital thing. That’s not equating same-sex marriage and polygamy, it’s pluralism.

  • Rob Winslow

    Try this to bring reality to bear on same-sex marriages: sit around a living room with several couples, some male-female and some same-sex, and ask one of the male-female couples to say to the group, “We often sit in our living room at home and talk about how you same-sex couples are destroying our marriage.” Said this way in such a group (we’ve acually done this) highlights the ridiculousness of the charge that same-sex marriags threaten traditional marriage in any way.
    Also, did giving women the vote in 1920 destroy the votes or voting of men, who were the only traditional voters? Did allowing women to serve in the armed forces destroy the contributions of men to those forces?