One of the most surprisingly insightful pieces I’ve read in some time is the January 18, 2010, Newsweek cover story by former solicitor general and lawyer-for-the-right Theodore B. Olsen called “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage.” A follow-up of sorts to the weekly periodical's December 10, 2008, cover story, "The Religious Case For Gay Marriage," it is an inspiring read and something everyone who cares about America and American values should check out (hint: Americans).
I’m sure American conservatives everywhere will somehow find reason to fault the logic and the sound reason Olsen splendidly lays out. Like an argument presented methodically and eloquently for a jury, Olsen knows how to make a case.
It’s a strong and convincing case.
I have not necessarily agreed with most of what Olsen has stood for in his rather illuminated career. But this is a refreshingly human and humane change of pace worthy of much reflection, consideration and alteration, particularly as American jurisprudence is concerned.
Indeed, the article has expectedly spawned much controversy. My favorite respite is the typical “liberal media bias” that the American right always hurls as if it's true or means anything. This is so automatically ridiculous that I’m surprised such critics don’t immediately recognize the flaws in their anger or the irony in their own resolve.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have neither championed any conservative viewpoint nor have I really ever understood marriage – straight or otherwise – but one thing I cannot abide is intolerance.
Olsen’s article only hints at the intolerance that lies beneath the whole same-sex marriage issue. Perhaps, that's the one weakness in Olsen's argument. Anyone who says intolerance isn’t at the root of this issue is not being honest with themselves or others. It’s usually pretty hard to convince intolerant people that they are intolerant. Usually they know better than the rest of us or have some special way of confirming their intolerance such as religion, historical precedent or people more famous than them saying it is so.
Olsen makes a very convincing case for why same-sex marriage is a good American value and, more importantly, why intolerance is, in the end, a poor American value.
The article and a brief video can be found here. The Newsweek blog has been capturing some of the backlash. But many other conservative Web sites have more biting and irrefutable criticism. You'll have to find that yourself if that's what you want to read.