As long as we have anything like traditional marriage, I believe that restricting it to heterosexual couples is an exceptionally bad and stupid policy, laced with unnecessary cruelty. It is not, however, an issue that is likely ever to affect my vote, because so much else dwarfs its importance. Legalizing gay marriage would make life substantially better for a few million people of the wealthiest people in the world (i.e. Americans) and is therefore a good thing, but if I’m going to pick my battles, I’ll cast my lot with, say, the tens or hundreds of millions of Third Worlders who are relegated to dire poverty by American trade and immigration restrictions. I’ll take the homophobic free trader over the protectionist crusader for sexual equality every single time.
But Mitt Romney’s muzzling of foreign policy aide Richard Grenell (followed by Grenell’s departure from the campaign) seems to me to be a far more serious issue than mere homophobia. It indicates a lack of seriousness about foreign policy (and by extension about governance generally). Top-notch expertise is rare. To exclude expert advisors because of irrelevancies like sexual orientation (and it appears from news reports that this, not his Twitter postings, was Grenell’s key disqualification) is to handicap your administration from the outset. A week ago, Mitt Romney thought Richard Grenell was the best guy for this job. Nothing relevant has changed. I conclude that Mitt Romney doesn’t terribly much care whether a key foreign policy post is filled by the best guy for the job. That attitude is potentially dangerous on a scale where the Defense of Marriage Act registers only as a blip.