Joseph Cotto, 10/21/2014 [Archive]

Is Gay Marriage Good or Bad for America?

By Joseph Cotto

Same-sex marriage is legal in no less than 31 states now.

Many of today's adolescents are growing up in a culture where such a thing is either accepted as the latest phase of the Civil Rights Movement or well-established law not worth taking a second glance at.

It is difficult to imagine that for those less than ten years older, same-sex marriage is anything but set in stone.

As late as 2008, leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, including Barack Obama, publicly opposed same-sex marriage. Just four years before, a nationwide general election was won by steadfast opposition to untraditional marriage and other non-heterosexual legal unions. In 2000, everyone who wasn't a fringe activist seemed satisfied with the Defense of Marriage Act, which had recently been passed by an arch-conservative Republican Congress and signed into law by center-left Democrat Bill Clinton.

Also during the early 2000s, engaging in a romantic relationship with another of the same sex could easily have resulted in a limited career throughout white collar America. Just a decade prior, it was forbidden to simply be homosexual if one joined the U.S. Military. In the 1980s, ironically enough, San Francisco's voters opposed measures to legalize same-sex partnerships. Despite it being the unrepentantly progressive 1970s, the socially libertine stronghold of Boulder, Colorado overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriage.

Considering all of this, one should ask if the legality of same-sex marriage been a productive development for American society.

Fred Karger would say so. He is career political operative who rose to prominence by consulting the campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bob Dole. His most famous cause, though, is for marriage equality. Karger brought much attention to it when running for the GOP's presidential nomination during the 2012 primaries. In doing so, he became America's first openly gay candidate for the presidency.

"(T)he fight for marriage equality has been a long one," Karger said earlier this month on my Internet radio program Cotto & Company. "It's rapidly accelerated. I go back to President Clinton's speech to the Human Rights Campaign back in, I think, '93 or '94. He was the first sitting president to speak to a gay gathering....and he's the one who said, 'Everyone in this room and everyone around the country who is gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered needs to come out to your friends and your family and your coworkers. Only then will things change.'

"That actually very much personally resonated with me....I felt like I needed to come out. I'd been gay my whole life; I kept it very much a secret."

Dr. Paul Gottfried has very different views. The recently retired Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Greater Lancaster's Elizabethtown College is an outspoken paleoconservative. His observations of the human condition have generated both accolades and animosity. Having befriended such figures as Richard Nixon and Herbert Marcuse, it should be no surprise that the Doctor's opinions are not always easy to pin down.

"(I)t is inevitable that we will get gay marriage, because the courts will make sure we get it, and because the media will crucify anyone who does not support it," Gottfried surmised, also on Cotto & Company. "I'm thinking of what happened in Chicago [where] a Christian businessman who owned Chick-fil-A had the audacity to suggest that, as a Christian, he could not accept gay marriage, at which point the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said that he would drive this man out of the city. Never mind his civil rights as an American — he would drive him out of the city.

"The fanaticism of the pro-gay such that I have no doubt that they will prevail, particularly given the weakness of Republicans to stand their ground for traditional morality."

Whether one supports same-sex marriage or not, the necessity to respect others' perspectives cannot be understated.

In the past, antigay forces exerted not just political, but social supremacy over the LGBT community. With the tables having turned, it seems many formerly oppressed have no qualms about becoming the very individuals they once so hated.

What a shame.


Copyright 2014 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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