Ann Althouse offers an interesting point:
...same-sex marriage started out as a conservative idea, and lefties
resisted. That was back in the day when marriage was patriarchy and
Here's a prediction: Once gay marriage becomes the norm, the left can get back to critiquing marriage. That topic got backburnered.
I will say, sort of. My memory, jogged by the NY Times archives, is that gay marriage and legal recognition of gay partnerships became very topical during the AIDS crisis, when getting one's name onto a partner's rent-controlled lease or their employer-sponsored health plan acquired unexpected urgency. It was not a "conservative" idea revolving around love and stability, but more of a direct benefits play.
That said, there was liberal opposition to the notion. Friom the Nov 5 1989 Times:
SINCE the early 1970's, when seven states, including New York, rejected the idea of allowing homosexual couples to marry, the issue has been all but dormant. But recently the debate has been revived. Among the most significant reasons for the renewed interest, gay-rights leaders say, is the AIDS epidemic, which has brought questions of inheritance and death benefits to many people's minds.
We hear from traditional conservatives:
In the meantime, opponents of homosexual marriage are preparing for a fight. ''We do see this as a major battleground in the 1990's,'' said Gary L. Bauer, who was President Reagan's domestic affairs adviser and who now heads the Family Research Council in Washington. Same-sex marriage ''would undermine deeply held and broadly accepted ideas of normalcy,'' Mr. Bauer said. ''We have customs against such things because it has been the consensus of 2,000 years of Western civilization that such arrangements were to be discouraged.''
Support from, groups typically associated with the left:
''The marriage exclusion is offensive,'' said Nan D. Hunter, the director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. ''It carries a strong symbolic as well as a legal message that lesbian and gay Americans are relegated to second-class status.''
But we also hear thunder from the left, as Prof. Althouse noted:
Some gay-rights leaders and their supporters, especially women, do not think homosexuals should fight to gain entry into an institution that many feminists find oppressive.
In the current issue of Out/Look, a national gay-rights quarterly, Ms. Ettelbrick, the legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, debated the issue with Thomas B. Stoddard, Lambda's executive director. ''Gay relationships,'' Mr. Stoddard wrote, ''will continue to be accorded a subsidiary status until the day that gay couples have exactly the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.''
Ms. Ettelbrick argued that marriage will not be a liberating experience. ''In fact, it will constrain us, make us more invisible, force our assimilation into the mainstream and undermine the goals of gay liberation,'' she said. A Better Strategy? Some gay-rights leaders feel that it might make more strategic sense to de-emphasize the goal of homosexual marriage and push instead for laws recognizing ''domestic partnerships,'' people who live together as families, regardless of their sexual orientation.