Those who read this blog know how regularly I have taken issue with gay marriage advocates for failing to offer strong arguments for the cause they so fervently espouse. For as long as I have been critiquing the great majority of those who speak out on this important topic, I have praised Jonathan Rauch for putting forward serious arguments in defense of gay marriage.
I have repeatedly cited the chapter, “What is Marriage For” in his book, Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America as getting at the meaning of marriage.
As didÂ San Francisco Mayor NewsomÂ last week, Rauch begins with the wedding of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. He contends that institutionalized gay marriage will encourage gay people to pursue relationships instead of settling for a life of random hookups. Unlike all too many advocates of gay marriage, Jonathan makes clear that he believes marriage is good thing as it “makes you, on average, healthier, happier and wealthier.” Some advocates say that since the institution is flawed or falling apart, it makes no sense to exclude gays.
And Jonathan recognizes the landmark nature of our society’s recognition of same-sex marriage: “Honest advocacy requires acknowledging that same-sex marriage is a significant social change and, as such, is not risk-free. I believe the risks are modest, manageable, and likely to be outweighed by the benefits.”
I have a quibble with a few of the points Jonathan makes and a couple of the arguments he offers. I regret that he doesn’t consider the issue of monogamy in his piece (perhaps due to its length). All that said, it is a thoughtful essay and merits your attention. If more people articulated the case for gay marriage as does Jonathan Rauch, then there would be little doubt as to the result of the initiative on the Golden State ballot this fall.