“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”
–William Ernest Henley
One of the most common things I’ve heard in the marriage debates here and elsewhere is the thought that gay marriage is the future, it is inevitable, it is unavoidable and those who disagree are going to find themselves “on the wrong side of history”.
As we look back on the massive wins of Proposition 8 in California, Question 1 in Maine, and the ripple effect those wins had in New York and now in New Jersey, it’s quite obvious that “inevitability” is what we make of it.
I read today on Maggie Gallagher’s site:
Maggie’s Top Eight Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Not Inevitable
1. Nothing is inevitable.
2. Young people are not as unanimous as most people think.
In California, the young-adults vote split 55 percent to 45 percent. Is it so hard to imagine 5 percent of those young people changing their minds as they move through the life cycle?
3. The argument from despair is bait and switch.
They are trying push the idea that gay marriage is inevitable, because they are losing the argument that gay marriage is a good idea.
4. Progressives are often wrong about the future.
Progressives told me abortion would be a dead issue by today, because young people in 1975 were so pro-choice. They told me there would be no more homemakers at all by the year 2000, because of the attitudes and values of young women in 1975. Some even told me the Soviet Union was the wave of the future. …
5. Demography could be destiny.
Traditionalists have more children. …Religous groups are increasingly focused on the problem of how to transmit a marriage culture to the next generation (see the USCCB’s recent initiatives).
6. Change is inevitable.
Generational arguments tend to work only for one generation: Right now, it’s “cool” to be pro-gay marriage. In ten years, it will be what the old folks think. Even gay people may decide, as they get used to living in a tolerant and free America, they don’t want to waste all that time and energy on a symbolic social issue, anyway. …Inevitability is a manufactured narrative, not a fundamental truth.
7. Newsflash: 18-year-olds can be wrong.
Should we really say “Hmm, whatever the 18-year-olds think, that must be inevitable,” and go do that? I mean, would we reason like that on any other issue?
8. New York’s highest court was right.
From Hernandez v. Robles:
“The dissenters assert confidently that ‘future generations’ will agree with their view of this case (dissenting op at 396). We do not predict what people will think generations from now, but we believe the present generation should have a chance to decide the issue through its elected representatives. …”
The first and the last on the list are my favorite. As Benjamin Franklin said, “He that waits upon fortune is never sure of a dinner.” Nothing is inevitable. Everyone gets the chance, and the responsibility to choose.