Charlie Sykes on the Ban

Charlie Sykes, host of the top-rated radio program Mid-Day with Charles Sykes and anchor of the state's conservative blogosphere, posted yesterday about the ban. Officially, he's undecided. But darn if he doesn't sound like he's leaning hard on an emphatic "No."

He's unsure, he says, about the second sentence:
There’s a reason this November’s vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage may be defeated:

Conservatives who, like me, are undecided.

The left seems solidly united in opposition. But despite what the legislative votes for the amendment might suggest, support on the right is softer.

By now it is notorious that the amendment contains two sentences. The first, which bans gay marriage, is straightforward enough. But the second is a bit murkier:

'A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.'

To which thoughtful conservatives reply: Say what?

The language seems to ban civil unions, but does it also extend to other benefits, as well? The amendments proponents insist not, but here we tread into the swamps of irony.
Sykes continues by quoting Ann Althouse's recent post (our entry on it here), claiming that you can't argue the courts can't be trusted in one breath, and then trust the courts in the next. What we know for sure is that the proposed ban does very seriously jeapordize existing employment benefits. One need only look to the experience of other states that have passed similar bans.

Midway through the post, Sykes moves from the second sentence to tackle the first sentence as well:
Does the amendment – which seeks to avoid a judicial mandate – itself veer too far in the opposite direction, by freezing both social and legal policy and removing it from the give and take of legislative compromise and social evolution? Conservatives also believe that, as a rule, constitutions should limit the powers of government, not of individuals.

Other questions also nag:

Exactly how does allowing gays to enter into legal, monogamous relationships undermine the institution of marriage? Isn’t in society’s interest to foster and recognize such stable relationships? And why would that be something that conservatives would oppose?

Let’s be honest: when gays point to divorce as a greater threat to marriage, they have a point. Yet, so far, none of the defenders of marriage have proposed banning divorce, or barring the infertile from the rites of marital bliss.
Then, after criticizing supporters of the ban who align themselves too closely with virulently anti-gay elements such as Ralph Ovadal, Sykes gives this piece of advice to ban opponents:
But calling your opponents bigots or assuming that supporters of the amendment “hate” gays will not win any converts. Nor will attacking the traditional teachings of mainline churches. So it cuts both ways.
Agreed. (Sidenote: a good number of mainline churches are already on our side.) We've been saying all along that the quickest way to stab ourselves in the back is to lambast or attack ban supporters. Our job--made a little easier when folks like Charlie Sykes speaks out--is to respectfully, civilly help them see exactly what Sykes sees: this ban will undoubtedly harm real families in this state and it has far reaching consequences that go way beyond marriage.

Welcome to Sykes' readers. For more posts on conservative opposition to the ban, see here, here, here, here, and here.

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At 10:59 AM, Blogger David Schowengerdt said...

This has stirred quite an interesting debate. There are links to much of it from his site.


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