Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Did Glenn Beck Really Defend Gay Marriage, Or Does He Merely Want To Make It Irrelevant? Depends On How You Define "Defend"

The headline is screaming pillar to post throughout the Web -- "Glenn Beck Defends Gay Marriage". At least that's the way countless pundits are calling it. Making this even more newsworthy is the fact that Glenn Beck is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the LDS Church just recently launched a website entitled "Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction", which, although it reiterates the Church's doctrinal position against gay marriage, is designed to offer a place where the people whose lives are impacted by attraction to the same sex can find inspiration to work through difficult challenges while remaining faithful to Church teachings.

This question actually first surfaced in August 2010 during an interview with Bill O'Reilly on the Fox News Channel. In response to O'Reilly's concern about the impact of redefining marriage, Beck downplayed the concern, noting that there were many more serious issues, and saying "I believe what Thomas Jefferson said. If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?"

In January 2012, Beck reiterated that position, saying that he had exactly the same opinion on gay marriage that President Barack Obama expressed at the time, which was that although he didn't believe in same-sex marriage, he did believe in civil unions for gay couples. Specifically, Beck said "I don't care. If you want to sleep with your boyfriend and you're a guy, you want to sleep with your girlfriend, that's up to you. You don't destroy marriage to do it."

And now Beck has done it again. During an on-air discussion with Penn Gillette, Beck made a case for getting the government out of the marriage business, saying "Let me take the pro-gay marriage people and the religious people — I believe that there is a connecting dot there that nobody is looking at, and that's the Constitution...The question is not whether gay people should be married or not. The question is why is the government involved in our marriage?" Later, Beck went on to say "What we need to do, I think, as people who believe in the Constitution, is to start looking for allies who believe in the Constitution and expand our own horizon. We would have the ultimate big tent." The full details of the discussion are summarized on GlennBeck.com.

Whether one believes Glenn Beck is defending gay marriage will depend upon one's definition of "defend". If one defines "defend" as "failure to oppose", then one will believe that Beck is defending gay marriage. However, if one defines "defend" as "actively promote", then there is no sign that Glenn beck is defending gay marriage. At no time has Glenn Beck actively promoted gay marriage. All Beck is doing is saying that maybe the issue should go on the back burner in order to keep the Republican Party competitive and prevent America from becoming a de facto one-party dictatorship ruled by the Democratic Party. In fact, there's a good chance Beck wants to make the marriage issue irrelevant by getting government out of the marriage business.

How many gay couples would really want to get officially married if there were no attendant tax benefits?

Nevertheless, social conservatives on Free Republic are fiercely denouncing Beck, implying that he's a sellout. Some commenters are linking Beck's position with the LDS Church's new outreach towards gays. One commenter predicted that the LDS Church will permit gay marriage within 20 years, citing the Church's polygamous history to imply that its commitment to the present definition of marriage is fluid. What they are beginning to realize is that Glenn Beck has always been more a libertarian than a conservative. Discussion has also broken out on Millennial Star, where several people contend that getting government out of the marriage business would actually complicate marriage.

I disagree with Glenn Beck -- we should continue to hold out against gay marriage for as long as possible, and make gay marriage advocates fight for every inch of ground and shed as much political blood as possible; make it a Pyrrhic victory for them. But let's not put words in Beck's mouth. Beck is clearly not a promoter of gay marriage.

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