The discussion below of gay rights has many of the same features of other aspects of the liberal program. First, rights are demanded by some group that says it’s “just like us.” Women, for example, want access to the military, private clubs, and various professions; this (often reasonable) demand is based on their abilities and willingness to serve. Non-Europeans want to immigrate; they say they’re no different, and no less assimilable, than previous generations of immigrants. The demand is made in terms of basic fairness; people that are the same, should be treated the same. Gays say they should be allowed to memorialize their serious, romantic relationships through traditional marriages.
Once these demands are met, however, a new narrative emerges. Women are not “just like us,” they’re different. They’ll add intuition, good sense, maturity, sensitivity, and a different-but-better-way to whatever institution they were previously excluded from. Whatever standards were used to distinguish excellence between men–PT standards in the army, commissions among a sales force, billable hours–should be discarded because they do not do justice to the inchoate skills that have now been brought to the table. The new immigrants, far from assimilating, demand that we celebrate their differences and not require them to furl (?) their foreign flags, speak english, and otherwise behave like everyone else. Gays ask that we adopt a broader view of marriage that does not require monogomy.
The language of difference and superiority emerges from the opening of a culture and its institutions to those that do not respect it. The value of these institutions “off the shelf” is often an explicitly stated presumption behind the demands for equal access, but it takes only a little skepticism to recognize that these demands often coexist with the left’s resentment of everything that comprises the dominant culture. Even members of the constituency that only wanted access will find it hard to resist the privileges that they’re offered in the name of “diversity” and “empowerment.” The reason for this situation is the parallal leftist contempt for the inherited culture. The exclusion of some group from some benefit of that culture in the recent past does not prove that an objectively good thing has not been fairly distributed, and that its wider distribution “as is” would be just and beneficial, but that the dominant culture and its institutions are demented and oppresive and need to be destroyed. This bait-and-switch is the reason why leftism is so corrosive and why conservatives have the sometimes-difficult task of resisting change: lying behind discrete demands for justice–that are often reasonable standing alone–are a series of ever-increasing demands for change that aim ultimately to destroy western civilization.