Arguments against gay marriage tend to fall into one of two groups: (1) the slippery slope group, which alleges that if gay marriage is permitted, all sorts of outrageous consequences will follow (such as the very Biblical polygamy or man-beast marriage); (2) question-begging Buckleyesque appeals to the natural order: gay marriage is contra naturam. We saw one of those yesterday. Somehow according to His Eminence Cardinal Rigali, opposite marriage is implied by the some kind of logical law. Such is the power and strength of this logical law, that it has inspired calls to civil disobedience if such obvious contradictions are allowed to exist.
Anyway, it's fun sometimes to look at things going the other way. Perhaps some have heard that Karl Rove, champion of traditional marriage, has just been granted his second divorce (compare that to that other serial defender of traditional marriage, Newt Gingrich). Rove's misfortune (such as it is–he may feel differently) prompted prominent blogger Glenn Greenwald to observe:
Karl Rove is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, citing "5,000 years of understanding the institution of marriage" as his justification. He also famously engineered multiple referenda to incorporate a ban on same-sex marriage into various states' constitutions in 2004 in order to ensure that so-called ""Christian conservatives" and "value voters" who believe in "traditional marriage laws" would turn out and help re-elect George W. Bush. Yet, like so many of his like-minded pious comrades, Rove seems far better at preaching the virtues of "traditional marriage" to others and exploiting them for political gain than he does adhering to those principles in his own life.
So I wonder whether we have a case of the tu quoque here (and in other analogous places). Rove has argued (however badly) for the legal exclusivity of "traditional" marriage yet at the same time, he has now been divorced twice. Whether we have a case of the tu quoque–the ad hominem tu quoque that is–depends on Greenwald's conclusion. It's obvious, of course, that Rove is a hypocrite. He doesn't adhere to the principles of traditional marriage in the most traditional sense of it. So here's what Greenwald is arguing:
I've long thought that the solution to the cheap, cost-free moralizing that leads very upstanding people like Karl Rove to want to ban same-sex marriages (which they don't want to enter into themselves, and thus cost them nothing) is to have those same "principles" apply consistently to all marriage laws. If Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and their friends and followers actually were required by law to stay married to their wives — the way that "traditional marriage" was generally supposed to work — the movement to have our secular laws conform to "traditional marriage" principles would almost certainly die a quick, quiet and well-deserved death.
So it's not that Rove is a hypocrite now that bothers Greenwald, it's that he would be a hypocrite if he (and Gingrich and Vitter and the rest of the them) were actually forced to chose the old school style of traditional marriage. I think this might be an instance of the non fallacious subjunctive tu quoque: were situations different, and you were the object of this law, you would not support it.