Monday, August 9, 2010

An Ideal Marriage

Ross Douthat does a very nice dance around the religious fanatic arguments against gay marriage, but he still comes down on the side that for the sake of Ozzie and Harriet, gay marriage is still a bad idea.

But if we just accept this shift, we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.

But based on Judge Walker’s logic — which suggests that any such distinction is bigoted and un-American — I don’t think a society that declares gay marriage to be a fundamental right will be capable of even entertaining this idea.

No one is arguing that same-sex marriage and straight marriage aren’t different, but “different” doesn’t mean unequal. It is not a zero-sum game, either; same-sex marriage does not mean that straight marriage will go away. It’s not a trade-off, and saying that somehow allowing people to marry the one person they love regardless of biological/gender identification diminishes the mythological ideal of Mommy and Daddy is, as the trial in California proved, nonsense.