Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marriage equality and freedom of thought are not incompatible

Affirming their “unwavering commitment to civic and legal equality, including marriage equality,” a diverse group of activists, advocates, lawyers, writers, and others issued a statement today that also affirms their “our unwavering commitment to the values of the open society and to vigorous public debate—the values that have brought us to the brink of victory.“

The statement – prompted in part by the resignation of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after his contribution to support the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign in California became controversial, and reactions that followed – was published today on the RealClearPolitics web site under the title “Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both.”

Among the 58 individuals who signed the statement are University of Minnesota law professor Dale Carpenter, Wayne State University philosophy professor John Corvino, University of Wisconsin political scientist Donald Downs, NYU law professor Richard Epstein, former Arizona superintendent of public instruction Lisa Graham Keegan, former Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona), Eli Lehrer of the R Street Institute, former national GOP chairman Ken Mehlman, Minnesota state senator Branden Petersen, Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution, U.S. Senate candidate Robert Sarvis, former Georgia Supreme Court justice Leah Ward Sears, Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute, author and blogger Andrew Sullivan, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and myself.

The signatories – both gay and non-gay, spanning a spectrum of conservative, liberal, libertarian, and progressive worldviews – argue that “sustaining a liberal society demands a culture that respects and welcomes robust debate, vigorous political advocacy, and a decent respect for differing opinions. People must be allowed to be wrong in order to continually test what is right. We should criticize opposing views, not punish or suppress them.”

In support of that proposition, they note that a “culture of free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality. For us and our advocates to turn against that culture now would be a betrayal of the movement’s deepest and most humane values.”

In addition to RealClearPolitics, the statement is also posted to iPetition, where any individual may affix his or her signature in support of it.

Although "Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent" was only released about two hours ago, commentary on the statement has already appeared on the Independent Gay Forum and the Volokh Conspiracy.  Expect more reactions over the next day or so.

UPDATES: Box Turtle Bulletin also has a post on this.
Somewhat related, the Williams Institute has issued a report that concludes legalizing marriage equality will add $60 million to Virginia economy over its first three years. Scott Shackford offers this at Reason.com. At the Business Law Prof Blog, Joshua Fershee comments from the perspective of, naturally, a business law professor. The Hoover Institution's Peter Berkowitz has posted a commentary at RealClearPolitics. There is also a discussion thread about the statement on DebatePolitics.

UPDATES 2 (April 23): Rod Dreher comments at The American ConservativeGreg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) at The Huffington Post.  Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic calls us "the liberal wing of the gay equality movement."  Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler says the statement is a "nice sentiment" but it's also "unrealistic" (and then criticizes the statement for what it didn't criticize).  Joshua Riddle at Young Conservatives calls the statement "AMAZING" and reprints it in full.

At IGF Culture Watch, David Link explains "Why I Signed."  Someone with the pen name "Buckeye" calls the statement "good news on the free speech front" on the Mormon Dialogue & Discussion Board.  Andrew Sullivan says "I'm not much of a joiner, but..."  Michael Polemra at National Review Online's "The Corner" says the "signers of this document ought to be really proud of what they have done." Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God says the statement comes from "a coalition of homocons and others."

Justin Snow reports on the statement for Metro Weekly.  News has apparently reached New Zealand, too.  Ilya Somin explains why he chose not to sign.  Zack Ford at ThinkProgress argues that the "pledge" -- his word, not the signers' -- justifies anti-gay activism.

Reactions are still coming in more than 36 hours after the statement was released. "BlackTsunami" comments at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters. John M. Becker calls the statement "repugnant" at the Bilerico Project.

UPDATES 3 (April 24):  Jonathan Rauch replies to critics on The Daily Beast with "Opposing Gay Marriage Doesn’t Make You a Crypto-Racist." Eric Schulzke comments in the Daily Oklahoman and Deseret News. Jennifer Rubin mentions the statement on her Washington Post blog. William D. Lindsey comments critically at Bilgrimage. Signatory Jonathan Rowe links. Viktor Kerney includes an excerpt as well as a link. Even the white supremacists at VDare have their say.

UPDATES 4 (April 25): Peter Wehner calls the statement "an impressive stand on behalf of liberal ideals" in Commentary. The American Spectator's Bill Zeiser mentions the statement at the end of an article about signatory Charles Murray. Jonah Goldberg offers backhanded approval at NRO and Jeremy Hooper replies to Goldberg at Good As You. Will Shetterly agrees with the statement, too.

Doug Gibson compares the statement to a recent speech by LDS leader Dallin H. Oaks at the Standard-Examiner. Nelson Garcia alleges some of the signatories once "decided to throw me under the bus." Gina Dalfonzo expresses skepticism over the statement's optimism at Breakpoint. Rob Tisinai admits "Yep, I Signed It" at Waking Up Now. Marvin Olasky cites the statement in an article called "Christians and gay-rights advocates can agree on freedom to dissent" at World.

UPDATES 5 (April 26): Signatory Richard Epstein "sort of" explains his position on same-sex marriage at Ricochet. The blogger at Pink-Briefcase names the statement one of "Five [Awesome] Things" she read this week.

UPDATE 6 (April 27): Carl F. Cannon, Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics, writes "On Gay Marriage, Intolerance Cuts Both Ways."

UPDATES 7 (April 28):  Jillian Page offers a Canadian perspective on The Montreal Gazette.  In USA Today, Glenn Harlan Reynolds draws a comparison to the case of a libertarian science fiction writer coming under fire.

UPDATES 8 (April 29):  "Michael-in-Norfolk" says the statement "Is Wrong and Justifies Anti-Gay Activism." Morgan Lee reports about the controversy on The Christian Post.

UPDATES 9 (April 30):  Spiked editor Brendan O'Neill comments on "coercion dolled up as civil rights."  At The Colu.mn, Andy Birkey reports that "Minnesotans sign on to controversial 'Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent.'"

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