JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 28, 2011
Here's the unabridged transcript of Chris Christie, appearing on "Meet the Press" last Sunday, explaining his position on gay marriage:
Let's--I'll tell you, in New Jersey we have a civil union law. And we had a very vigorous debate in late 2009, early 2010--before I became governor--about same-sex marriage, and it failed in the state legislature under a Democratic legislature with Democratic Governor Jon Corzine. And so my view on it is, in our state we're going to continue to pursue civil unions. I am not a fan of same-sex marriage. It's not something that I support. I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. That's my view, and that'll be the view of our state because I wouldn't sign a bill that--like the one that was in New York.
This is a very typical expression of opposition to gay marriage. It's a simple restatement of a position -- I oppose gay marriage -- without even a fig leaf of a justification. In place of any attempt to justify his opposition, Christie simply restates it over and over. Christie argues, in order, that there's a civil union law, that gay marriage failed before, that civil unions will continue, that he's "not a fan," that it's not something he supports, that he believes in one man-one-woman, that it's his view, and that he won't sign a gay marriage bill.
I wrote about this tendency in a TRB column a couple years ago:
Gay-marriage opponents have made that formulation their mantra. It's a really strange way for them to summarize their argument, because it's not an argument at all. If we're debating health care, one side will have a line about big government, and the other will have a line about the uninsured or spiraling costs. If we're debating torture, advocates will mention the need to make terrorists talk, and opponents will invoke American values. Soundbites, by their nature, can't express much logical nuance, but they do tend to give you a reason to agree with the position.
The anti-gay-marriage soundbite, by contrast, makes no attempt at persuasion. It's like saying you oppose the Bush tax cuts because "I believe the top tax rate should be 39.6 percent." You believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman? OK! But why?
The ubiquity of this hollow formulation tells us something about the state of anti-gay-marriage thought. It's a body of opinion held largely by people who either don't know why they oppose gay marriage or don't feel comfortable explicating their case.
The inability of opponents to articulate a rationale, or even a pseudo-rationale, is both a cause and a symptom of the gay marriage's shockingly rapid progress.