The controversy over California’s Proposition 8, which was passed with a majority vote in 2008, has since sparked a public discourse which has brought the issue of gay marriage back into focus. Cable news pundits, state legislatures, town hall meetings, and, perhaps most importantly as far as producing results, the judicial system have all wrestled with the subject.
We often look at argument in terms of “who won”. Yet what we are witnessing right now is a process that’s just as important as the outcome itself. Commentators on both sides of the aisle are fighting to frame the debate in an attempt to gain control over the conversation. And through this public struggle in which both sides have an opportunity to be heard, an increasingly tolerant public opinion will prevail.
Below, we see Rachel Maddow framing the debate in an unusual but perhaps strategically brilliant light: gay marriage as a “fundamentally conservative idea”.
As evidence, Maddow brings on to her show a legal odd couple who have helped fast-track Proposition 8 to an eventual United States Supreme Court ruling. Ted Olsen and David Boies, who were opposing lawyers in the landmark Bush v. Gore ruling, have crossed aisles to spearhead the movement to overturn Proposition 8 and create a federal precedent for marriage equality on a national level.
Like Maddow, Olsen and Boies frame the debate over gay marriage in a broad stroke that’s difficult to find fault with. It is a clearly legal strategy, but by branding marriage equality as an “American value”, who can disagree? In court, these two have consistently brought real people into the conversation to show the human side of this controversial subject and make opposing it seem that much more extreme and out-of-touch.
It is, of all things, a centrist position that is taking the legal battle over gay marriage to within striking distance of the finish line.
Read Ted Olsen’s The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage Newsweek article here: