Maggie Gallagher Not Interested In Evidence For Marriage Equality, Position Informed By Past

Salon’s Mark Oppenheimer has published an in-depth profile of marriage equality opponent Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage who now blogs for the Culture War Victory Fund. The entire profile is worth a read, even if it does downplay how anti-gay her views are, because it paints a picture of a complex woman who does not fit the gay rights opponent mold.

Largely, it seems her efforts against marriage equality have been motivated by having a child out of wedlock in her early 20s, and it is hard not to read the profile without feeling that when she says, “Every child deserves a mother and a father,” what she really means is “My child deserved a father.” This experience fostered her conviction that sex and procreation cannot be separated — as waves of feminism have taught — and led her to fight for her social conservative values. The lives of same-sex couples challenge this core tenet, but the profile reveals that no amount of evidence could ever really shake her of it:

Same-sex marriage advocates offend her hard-won wisdom in two ways. First, they imply that sex and love can in fact be separate from procreation, and no less valid for it. Second, and perhaps more troubling for Gallagher, the increasingly visible column of attentive, loving gay parents — gay male parents in particular — mocks her own romantic choices. It mocks her own son’s good-for-nothing father. There must be something wrong with these gay dads, something contrary to the natural order, such that even when they appear to be splendid dads themselves, their agenda is the cause of poor parenting in others. […]

There is an obvious problem with this sort of argumentation: it is not really susceptible to evidence. Gallagher is unwilling to make any predictions of what doom will befall families after the legalization of same-sex marriage. She just has faith that marriage, the central institution of good child-rearing, will be weakened if same-sex couples are allowed its prestige and protections. […]

And even if somehow the evidence showed, conclusively, that same-sex marriage were good for children? Gallagher would still be dissatisfied: “Nothing could make me call a same-sex couple a marriage, because that’s not what I believe a marriage is.”

Obviously, Gallagher’s Catholic faith also informs her views on homosexuality. As Jeremy Hooper points out, she has called homosexuality a sin, an “unfortunate thing,” and a “sexual dysfunction,” in addition to advocating for ex-gay therapy. Given how loving same-sex families so starkly contradict her perception of sexuality, she struggles to even empathize with their experiences:

At one point, breaking from my script of questions, I interrupted her to ask if, despite all of her fears about same-sex marriage, she didn’t find it heartwarming to see those pictures of joyous gay couples in Massachusetts or Iowa or California, crying and hugging as they celebrated their marriages. Before answering, she takes a long pause, the only long pause of our conversation. “Am I happy for them?” she finally says. “That’s a tough question. I like to see people happy. It’s better than seeing people sad. So yes, I am happy for them. But I am sad. But I am not sad because they are happy.