With a decision on New York’s gay marriage bill coming any minute now, one of the principle remaining obstacles to its passage — which would be a huge victory for the gay rights movement — is a man named Mike Long. As chairman of New York’s conservative party, he wields great influence over the GOP state legislators that will decide whether marriage equality passes in New York.
So it’s worth considering the argument, such as it is, that Long is making against legalizing gay marriage. Long’s case against it demonstrates as clearly as you could want that opponents have run out of arguments.
Long has a National Review piece that makes this case:
First, marriage is and should remain the union of husband and wife. Same-sex marriage is a government takeover of an institution the government did not create and should not redefine
It goes on to claim that gay marriage is not a “priority” for New Yorkers, and that Republicans should not support the law because passage would help New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.
And that’s it. That’s the entire case.
Because Long wields such power in New York, it’s important to understand just how insane the “government takeover” argument really is. First of all, government already decides who does and doesn’t marry. This law would simply change government’s criteria for that decision. The gay marriage bill would amend currently existing law so that no application for a marriage license — which is already granted by the state — can be “denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or a different, sex.”
Indeed, if anything, this law would be a step in the opposite direction opponents claim: It would in effect remove the “government takeover” of marriage that already exists. “This is almost a self-debunking argument,” Evan Wolfson, the president of Freedom To Marry, says in an interview. “Government already issues marriage licenses and regulates the legal status of marriage. This is about removing a discriminatory restruction by the government on couples who are in love and want legal commitments to match.”
I’d go even further than this. What’s really remarkable is that these self-described conservatives bemoaning this pending “government takeover” of marriage actively want government to continue imposing legalized descrimination on an institution that is currently not available to all citizens — simply because it comports with their definition of marriage. These self-described conservatives want government to continuing enforcing their discriminatory vision forever.
This is Albany, so you never know: At the last minute, the initiative could fail. But there’s no getting around it at this point: Opponents of gay marriage have simply run out of arguments. The American public is ready to embrace the inevitable. And the increasingly desperate opposition is destined to lose the larger war.
UPDATE: Edited slightly for clarity.