I was drawn to the headline of Friday’s September 19, 2008, Los Angeles Times Opinion piece entitled “Protecting Marriage to Protect Children.” It was written by New York author David Blankenhorn, President of Institute for American Values (IAV). Mr. Blankenhorn wants everyone to vote for Prop 8 to take away the right of lesbians and gay men to marry.
I was taken with his first sentence: “I am a liberal Democrat.” Wow! That’s me, I thought! I often wear my custom-designed T-shirt with the word LIBERAL emblazoned on the front in big, black, bold letters. But then, his next sentence came from right field, “And I do not favor same-sex marriage.”
I quickly googled IAV and Mr. Blakenhorn. Evidently Mr. Blankenhorn has found a way to earn a living as a “scholar” and writer. He’s done this by establishing the Institute for American Values which “…brings together many of the nation’s most distinguished scholars and analysts…to bridge the gap between scholarship and policymaking.” IAV “…affiliate scholars work in regional or home offices…” (one of these home offices is probably in Wasilla, Alaska) where they “study” marriage, motherhood, divorce and civil society. IAV is “financed primarily by tax-deductible contributions from (unnamed) foundations and (unnamed) individuals.”
After reading his article, his unnamed benefactors better ask for a refund.
He is the type of scholar who, after studying the melting of the Arctic ice cap, would deduct that every family needs two refrigerators so more ice cubes can be produced. For instance, did you know that, “Marriage is not primarily a license to have sex…it is primarily a license to have children.” Wow, a license to have children! Who knew? And remember, this conclusion comes after “scholarly study.” I’m curious, though, about couples who can’t or don’t want children. Is marriage out? And what about couples in China where the government mandates that they may have only one child?
Surely, marriage is more than a license to have children.
Then he proclaims, “Marriage is society’s most pro-child institution.” Now, come on, what does that mean? As a Liberal, this bothers me because the right-wing is always referring to us as “fuzzy thinkers in ivory towers.” But Mr. Blankenhorn is actually beyond fuzziness, he is all the way to “Conservative Speak,” where words no longer mean anything, i.e., Mission Accomplished. Or where words mean opposite: “Protect America,” which really means tap phones and use torture. Perhaps he means, if two people had children, were married to each other, had great parenting skills, produced a loving atmosphere at home then, under those conditions, “Marriage is society’s most pro-child institution.” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia must be one of IAV’s donors.
In this day of Fox News and BushSpeak, words have lost their integrity. That’s how a cable channel can name itself Fox News and then say that it is “Fair and Balanced;” and a personality like Bill O’Reilly get introduced as “an author and award winning journalist” operating in the “no spin zone.” This also covers Sean Hannity, being given access to Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and the encounter being called an “interview.” I think the Institute of American Values and the “scholarly writer” Mr. Blankenthorn have the same integrity and legitimacy as Fox News & Team.
Prop 8 says that in California everyone is NOT to be treated equally under the law. Prop 8 is asking that we amend the California constitution and take away equal rights from a certain group of people. Armed with that thinking, the rights of any group could be taken away by a simple majority vote of the electorate. Did Mr. Blakenhorn study that?
Mr. Blankenhorn starts his article claiming to be a Liberal Democrat and that he is against same-sex marriage. Well, I have a friend who is a Conservative Republican, a lifelong flaming queen, and he is going to vote against Prop 8. Study that, Mr. Blankenhorn.
Carl Matthes is a native of Los Angeles and has lived in Eagle Rock for over 40 years. He is a former president and a current Board member of Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance. He is a former columnist and a current advisor to the Lesbian News, the oldest lesbian publication in America. He was editor of the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) newsletter and a former GLAAD National Board member. He has also been a Board member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Articles by Carl Matthes: