I didn’t say that to Fred. I told him I supported same-sex marriage, and believed a conservative case could be made for it, but that the real answer to his question was that it didn’t matter what I thought about gay marriage and it didn’t matter what he thought about gay marriage—and ultimately it didn’t matter what the next president thought. Gay marriage was coming, I said. It was inevitable, and his main goal should be to act in a way he’d be proud of later. This doesn’t mean you have to support it, I said; opponents would be wise to disagree respectfully and inclusively.
Fred surprised me by replying that this was essentially what President Bush had told him, too, so we left it at that.
Ten years later, I’d like to think I was prescient, but this is only half-true. Gay marriage has come to many jurisdictions in this country, and will soon come to all of them. But the intolerance I worried about has been manifested most conspicuously not by conservatives but by the side that’s winning, the side that likes to call itself liberal.