Unless you live in a cave, you know that New York's legislature recently passed a bill recognizing homosexual marriage, a bill that was quickly and enthusiastically signed into law by the latest loathsome member of the Cuomo clan to govern the Empire State. The mainstream conservative movement's reaction to this event was only slightly less enthusiastic than that of the New York Times. Michael Potemra penned a celebratory piece for National Review, and David Frum confessed on his website that he had been "wrong" to oppose gay marriage, arguing that the rise of gay marriage has not hurt the American family, which Frum sees as entering a silver age, despite illegitimacy rates of roughly 40% among new births.
This latest surrender of the conservative movement to the forces of "progress" should come as no surprise, since it is the logical outcome of a movement that has as its chosen ideology "fusionism," the marriage of libertarian economics and traditionalism outside the economic sphere championed by Frank Meyer in the early days of National Review. As some traditionalists noted early on, a movement defined by libertarian economics was unlikely to provide any real support for tradition.
This point was brought home by the New York Times' excited behind the scenes look at the passage of its latest favorite legislation. As the Times reports, wealthy Republican donors were instrumental in securing the bill's passage: "the billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb—had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure. And they were inclined to see the issue as one of personal freedom, consistent with their more libertarian views." This passage helps explain why the conservative movement has been relatively successful in defending the economic interests of Wall Street billionaires, but an abject failure in conserving much of anything, including a definition of marriage that reflected not only the wisdom of millennia of human thought but what until only recently had been the overwhelming moral consensus of Americans.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.