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Same-Sex Marriage Continued...

While frustration with the direction of the same-sex marriage debate is appropriate, despite the fact that eleven marriage amendments were passed in 2004, I'm not sure Dale Carpenter should be the point of our invective. I actually think the "conservative case for gay marriage" is a helpful contribution to the debate. It actually frames the debate in terminology and concepts that are (or should be) strengths for those who seek to defend the institution of marriage. I think this was the point of his piece in National Review.

Now admittedly, there are some assumptions present within the propositions on which he claims all conservatives agree. But he admits that his schema is simply a proposal, not an ironclad list of definitive truths. This is valuable because at least it creates starting points on ground where we can have a reasoned debate. Considering we need to get past the tolerance, pastel, love everybody rhetoric that currently dominates the conversation, this is an important step. As the data comes in, we can have conversations.

The fact is, the only thing that prevents same-sex marriage in this country is either a Supreme Court ruling, or the yuck factor. People are viscerally opposed to the concept of ssm. Now that of course is a legitimate reaction, considering the fact that we are created in a certain way and there are some things, as J. Budziszewski says, you can't not know, even if you can't articulate a coherent intellectual defense of the position. However, this is not a long-term strategy for winning the public policy debate. In 30 years, the yuck factor that was once present for same-sex marriage could become virtually extinct like the yuck factor of interracial marriage, which is now virtually gone today. (Not that the two are necessarily comparable).

Furthermore, in a culture that has denigrated marriage, wholeheartedly embraced pornography, lives for contraception, relies on divorce and abortion, embraces gay adoption, and no longer sees the value in full-time parents, how can we make a straight-faced argument about preserving marriage to protect the children or not open the floodgates to all sorts of dysfunctional behavior that is already here? At this point, the only argument we've got is that recognizing same-sex marriage would publicly acknowledge and affirm the inherent equality of same-sex relationships. All of the things we claim ssm will cause are for the most part here. Heterosexuals have already ruined marriage. Children are afterthoughts, and ironically, gay parents are surprisingly traditional, with one partner often staying home.

It is worth defending marriage in the hope that by drawing a line in the sand, we can save the legal institutions that will aid us in changing the culture (by which I do not mean rolling back gay rights). If we lose the marriage battle, I think it will be a civilizational-type shift because of the fact that marriage is the basic unit of society. It will re-order everything. Of course if we are wrong about marriage, this won't be a big deal since human beings are purportedly adaptable creatures that create new social institutions to preserve order. However, if we are wired a certain way, or should I say created a certain way, by thwarting nature this will come back to bite us bad. It seems that many of the "developments" in the area of sex, gender, and family over the last 60 years have not been good for society as a whole. But at this point, recognizing ssm simply affirms the cultural trend. The point is, the effects of disordered sexual relations are already here. Drafting a parade of horribles is not going to help us win the debate.

Thus, Dale Carpenter provides a valuable resource in the conversation. He is sensible, a person of good-will, and wants to foster a way in which everyone can live with a development that is almost assuredly over the horizon. Furthermore, he gives us real propositions that we can debate, rather than the sloppy rhetoric where we will most assuredly lose in the long run. And when ssm does come, and it will, the conservative case for gay marriage may help reign in some of the excesses that the Gay Left might try to bootstrap to it.

So, let's celebrate the conservative case for gay marriage and have a conversation.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 26, 2005 7:34 PM.

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