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Professor Robert George at Princeton has been one of the most articulate spokesmen for the view of marriage as a union of one man and one woman. He has demonstrated the absurdity of liberal claims that there is no rational basis for objecting to same-sex marriage.

Today on Public Discourse he has an important reflection on the wishful thinking of some who imagine that we can strike a “grand bargain” with proponents of same-sex marriage. Here is the money paragraph .

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.”  There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted.  Perhaps  parts  of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces  temporarily  for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm.

George is certainly right. The arguments used by progressives have a “total war” and “unconditional surrender” logic (no rational basis for opposition to its goals!). This will not allow for bargains or compromises.

George is also right that progressive claims about inevitability need to be seen as part of a long history of claims to be on the side of “history.” It was said about abortion. It was said about socialism. It was said about secularization. It has been said about many things that modern liberals have deemed the obvious “rational” way of thinking about social and moral issues.

As I said, it’s an important discussion, one worth reading in full.

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