Saletan offered an abortion compromise in the NYT over the weekend: focus on contraception. Well, duh. Try getting Ramesh Ponnuru to sign off on that. I like this idea, though:

We should make the abortion rate an index of national health, like poverty or infant mortality. The president should report progress, or lack thereof, in the State of the Union. Reproductive-health counselors must speak bluntly to women who are having unprotected sex. And as Mr. Obama observed last year, men must learn that “responsibility does not end at conception.”

On the same page, David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch proposed a way forward for marriage equality. It is a very good summation of the deal that Jon and David would make if it were up to them. My worry is the federalist one: I don't see why the federal government should refuse to recognize what various states decide to call a civil marriage. I know that DOMA already established this unfortunate anti-federalist precedent, but I'd rather end the DOMA power-grab than entrench it.

I mean: Why cannot the federal government simply recognize civil marriages in Massachusetts and Connecticut? As for strong religious liberty exception clauses, I have absolutely no objection.

I don't believe that allowing gay couples to marry will violate religious freedom any more than, say, legal civil divorce hurts the Catholic Church, but if it helps assuage Christianist panic and paranoia, why not? The cause of religious freedom and gay equality are, in any case, inextricable: they are both about allowing human beings to be themselves with as little state interference as possible. That's why Virtually Normal opposed hate crimes laws and even employment discrimination laws (I care about the rights of bigots too), and why this blog long defended the Boy Scouts and the St Patrick's Day parade in their right to exclude gays. In fact, I think allowing the idiocy of bigoted choices will only add force to the arguments for gay equality by exposing the self-defeating paranoia of the opponents.

I should note that David's and Jon's conversation is a model for the kind of civil discourse we should be having on this, and I'm personally grateful for Blankenhorn's open and honest struggling with the question. I wish more on the right had his intellectual honesty and ability to actually think about how this issue might appear to gay folks and our families. My own attempt to have a public discussion with Rick Warren in the same vein has been scotched by Warren's peeps. I am, apparently, anathema.