Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

Pro-Prop 8 witness David Blankenhorn asks Minnesotans to vote no on amendment to ban marriage equality

Marriage equality

By Scottie Thomaston

In Minnesota, there is an amendment to ban same-sex marriage on this November’s ballot. Minnesota, of course, already does not allow gays and lesbians to marry. This amendment will get a vote alongside initiatives in other states to affirm the right of gays and lesbian couples to marry.

Now, David Blankenhorn, of Prop 8 fame, is joining those asking Minnesotans not to enshrine this amendment into their state constitution. Blankenhorn was an expert witness in the Prop 8 trial, testifying against same-sex marriage. Eventually in the trial, he conceded that we would be “more American” if gays and lesbians could get married.

When North Carolina put its amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot, Blankenhorn spoke out against Amendment 1, asking North Carolinians to vote against it. Later, he announced in the New York Times that he now supports marriage equality.

Blankenhorn appears in a video opposing the Minnesota amendment, explaining how he formerly opposed marriage equality and his evolution on the issue:


  • 1. RAJ  |  October 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I'm very glad to see this. We'll need all the persuasion we can muster in Minnesota.

    I haven't posted here for a long time, but I just wanted to pass along a small tidbit. I was at a live performance of "8 the play" in Long Beach, CA last month and I'm about 95% sure I spotted David Blankenhorn in the lobby before the performance started. I pointed him out, commented to my partner and even considered going up and introducing myself. I really wish I had now , just to verify that it was him and maybe to say a few words. He didn't appear to be accompanied, was just waiting in the lobby with other attendees.

    Anyway, if he watched the performance it could not have been easy, since he doesn't come off so well.

  • 2. Steve  |  October 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Don't canonize him just yet. He still thinks gay people are inferior:

    And he is is still dead wrong about marriage uniting children with their biological parents. That's just absurd. It's about tying children to their de facto parents. Marriage is about creating legal relationships, but those aren't necessarily tied to biology. He has just a bit more vision than his colleagues and realized that anti-gay activism isn't going to pay so well anymore in the near future.

  • 3. RAJ  |  October 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    "Don't canonize him just yet."

    With respect to gay people, I think I'm pretty clear-eyed about what Blankenhorn's position is and isn't. In fact, part of my hesitation in walking up and introducing my self was, well, what would I say? It did surprise me to see him in what can only be described as a hostile environment, except I think most people there probably don't know what he looks like, if they even know who he is.

    But, agreed, he shouldn't be canonized just yet.

  • 4. Phillip K  |  October 22, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I agree. Less than impressed.

    I'm really not willing to call him an ally just yet. Frankly, his arguments in the article struck me as saying "Well..we aren't going to win even though I still think we should.".

  • 5. Fr. Bill  |  October 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    My spouse was a classmate of his at Harvard. He does still have some strange ideological convictions. My hope is that he is allowing his heart as well as his mind to inform his decisions.

  • 6. John_B_in_DC  |  October 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Perhaps Blankenhorn has truly had a change of heart, or perhaps he sees the way the wind is blowing and is merely being an opportunist. (I would guess a little of both.) Either way, this is a huge embarrassment for the supporters of Prop. 8 and for NOM and the opponents of same-sex marriage in general.

  • 7. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    At the risk of being glib, a "no" vote or unchecked ballot still counts toward the anti-equality amendment failing, despite any lingering prejudices of the voter. I will be thrilled if any of these initiatives go our way – Maine, Washington, and Maryland will be the more important battles in the short term in that the will quickly lift restrictions; the Minnesota vote won't change the legality, but it will depend on when marriage bans are declared unconstitutional across the board by SCOTUS, although I suppose a re-vote to amend the amendment could take place (such embarrassing legacies committed to print).

  • 8. Deeelaaach  |  October 20, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I had trouble with the video. In the beginning of the video, he seems to frame his change of heart as a strategy change – his strategy of decrying same sex marriage was not working so he changed to supporting it as part of his overall support of the institution of marriage. It made it hard for me to listen to the rest of the video, no matter how supportive he seemed, because I couldn't be sure whether he truly supported us or whether he is supporting us only to achieve some other goal.

    I suppose I should be somewhat happy that he is supporting us regardless of the reason, but it's just that if he doesn't support us for the right reasons, it makes me wonder if he'll abandon us at some later time. Perhaps this is paranoia in part, but these are my gut reactions after watching the video. I'll have to give it some thought.

  • 9. reddecatur  |  October 20, 2012 at 7:19 am

    "I had trouble with the video". Believe me, you're not alone on that. I continue to have reservations about him, as to where his heart really is on this and other related issues. One thing for sure, just like John_B_in_DC said, it's a huge embarrassment for opponents of same-sex marriage in general, and that's worth something.

  • 10. Sagesse  |  October 20, 2012 at 7:47 am

    When he announced his change of heart, he said his mission is to strengthen marriage, and that opposing marriage equality does nothing to help traditional marriage… which is true. He's not the most impressive ally, but he's wasn't particularly impressive as an opponent either.

    Speaking of slightly creepy born again allies,

    Ted Haggard Says Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal in States

  • 11. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 20, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    More than slightly creepy, but he really does hit the nail on the head on how people can be *against* marriage equality but realize that their belief shouldn't extend to *civil* law:

    Haggard said that he believes that God's plan for marriage is a heterosexual union between a man and a woman. But Haggard sees a distinction between biblical law and civil law, and says "we need to be careful not to inculcate [biblical law] into civil law."

  • 12. MightyAcorn  |  October 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

    It seems to me that he fancies himself a *marriage advocate,* his goal (according to the NYT article posted by Steve, thanks for that) to prevent marriage from being deinstitutionalized. The problem is, he allows himself to be informed about the state of marriage today only through a religious filter (which avers premarital sex is bad, unwed childbearing is bad, cohabitation is bad, etc.) and from that perspective, yeah, marriage as an institution is failing.

    But the actual statistics tell a very different story: that people are marrying because they *want* to, are staying married longer and more happily than ever before in American history. They've figured out what's fulfilling and economically viable for them, and those decisions are based on the realities of their particular lives and our current social circumstances, not a dogmatic mandate. Marriage is thriving but he can't see it, and he's puzzled about why no one else seems to think modern marriage needs fixing.

    At least he cottoned on to the animus angle and stated he won't play. Despite his other ideological quirks, that sets him head and shoulders above Maggie, Brian, and Co.

  • 13. Steve  |  October 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

    To fully realize how stupid and short-sighted he is, you need to read this:

    Specfically the "B segment" a bit further down. It explains how he got involved in the advocacy business in the first place. He really thinks that if he could just force fathers to stay with their families no matter what, society's problems would be magically solved. And he thinks having some grandiose "American Values Institute" will fix everything.

    It's basically the same shit NOM pulls, just the benevolent version: if people would get married, they wouldn't be poor. Never mind that the factors that cause poverty also cause family instability. Getting married won't make people rich or even better off all of a sudden.

    Mostly, he jumped tracks simply because he realized that being anti-gay isn't going to pay so well anymore in the future. In that at least he shows some foresight.

  • 14. John_B_in_DC  |  October 21, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Haven't had a chance to listen yet, but David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch discussed "The Future of Marriage" on NPR this morning:

  • 15. Jay  |  October 21, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I remember a wonderful article from from a few years back. It is called "Confessions of a Blog Addict" and focuses on and Blankenhorn's site Here is the url:

    The sections on "The Sad Case of David Blankenhorn" and on his blog are wonderful. Blankenhorn is obviously a great narcissist. He spun his participation in the Prop 8 case as an example of how brave he was and how cowardly other "family scholars" were for not stepping forward to tell the truth about how destructive gay marriage would be to the institution of marriage. But he has never been able to explain how that would work.

    He got so bent out of shape by Frank Rich's columns in which he said (implied really) that Blankenhorn was a bigot that he got 13 of his colleagues to sign a letter saying that he really was not a bigot. As "Anonymous," the author of the article, said, If you have to ask Maggie Gallagher to say that you are not a bigot, you are in real trouble.

    Anyway, I am glad that he continues to "evolve," but I suspect it is simply because his position has become untenable. You cannot say that you have no animus against gay people, but you don't want them to have equal rights. You can't say that you are a proponent of marriage, but spend all your time trying to prevent people from getting married.

Having technical problems? Visit our support page to report an issue!