U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy’s views on gay marriage circa 2012

A lot of gay rights news lately, as the Supreme Court considers cases and the Boy Scouts contemplate a policy change.

It reminded me that U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, to my knowledge, was asked about this issue precisely one time in the 2012 election cycle. By me:

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This interview is from July 16, 2012. The exchange on gay marriage begins at 51 minutes in. I have a bit of a long wind-up for my question, involving the fact that President Obama had recently changed his position on the issue.

The essence of the question: Has your position in opposition to gay marriage changed?

DUFFY: I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. That’s what I believe. And I know the president has come out and changed his official position.

Q. Well, he’s not the only one. People rethink their views on this issue.

DUFFY: They do. And so, I’m a one-man-one-woman kind of guy.

Q. Well, why? To just say marriage is one man and one woman, that’s just a — definition. Does it not make second-class citizens out of some of our citizens?

DUFFY: In what way?

Q. There’s a right that is denied to certain people.

DUFFY: Well, I mean, I guess. I would tell you this. … I go back to family structure. I believe that raising kids, the best environment for them is with one man and one woman. Some people will argue to me (that they) can point out to you a family with a really bad mom and dad, and if you can take the kids out of that family and put them with a gay couple, that child would be better off. You can find examples on the extremes out there, but I think, all in all, raising kids in a traditional family structure is the best structure to raise them in. At some point we start to see some — it’s my personal belief and that hasn’t changed.

Q. It’s a personal belief, but you’re also saying it should be the policy of the United States.

DUFFY: Well, it’s the law. We have a Defense of Marriage Act, so yeah. Where are we in Wisconsin? That’s where I stand. Now, listen, this is one of those issues that we can disagree on and fight on, but I’ve got to tell you … people don’t bring this up to me. This is not an issue where people go, “Please bring this issue up.”

So that is how that went.

The word I was reaching for in my “well why not?” question, of course, was “tautology.” “I oppose gay marriage because I believe marriage is between a man and a woman” is not an argument; it’s a tautology. It is like saying, “I am against the estate tax because I do not believe inheritance should be taxed” or “I am against immigration reform because I don’t believe immigration should be reformed.” It’s not an argument, just a restatement of the position.

So, prodded, Duffy makes the familiar, though false, argument that gay marriage is a problem for family stability. He is not making an evidence-based argument so it is not disprovable. But for what there is lots of social science on this and that view is not supported.

About Robert Mentzer

I am the opinion editor at Daily Herald Media.
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