At the heart of the two most serious books on either side of the gay marriage debate is a question we should all be asking as we wrestle with whether or not states should extend the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.Â Both Jonathan Rauch in Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America and David Blankenhorn in The Future of Marriage consider whether such recognition strengthens the institution or undermines it.
Rauch, as his title suggests contends it strengthens marriage.Â Blankenhorn disagrees.
It sometimes seems Rauch is alone in making that argument.Â He understands the purposes of marriage and how the institution benefits society.Â By contrast, most of his fellow gay marriage advocates see the institution as a right to which they are somehow entilted.
Yet, as I wrote on Saturday, while most advocates may not understand the meaning of the social change they’re promoting, many of the institution’s practitioners do, as this comment to Bruce’s post reveals.Â The writers simply acknowledges that his 24-year gay relationship has been “monogamous.”
Would it that other advocates use that word which practically everyone in our culture understands inheres in the very definition of the institution*, but which all to which all too many advocates wish to give short shrift (if that) for fear of offending someone in the gay movement.Â Or maybe it’s not just a fear of offending, it’s a rejection of the notion altogether.
No wonder some see gay marriage as an assault on traditional marriage.Â Those who often promote it portray marriage as just a union of two loving individuals, dispensing with many of the qualities which have long defined the institution.
Yet, when we talk about gay marriage as most of its “practitioners” experience their relationships, we often get a different reaction from its skeptics as this comment to my post on the exclusion of gay conservatives from gay marriage confabs indicates:
I am a straight, conservative and married man. Until about a year ago, I – shamefully – was opposed to gay marriage. It was the line of reasoning in this blog that has caused the change in my heart. Thank you and please keep up the fight. Seems to me that married gay people, serious about their own vows, would only strengthen the institution of marriage.
This reader helps make the case for Jonathan Rauch’s argument.
In the end, I believe it boils down to whether or not we see gay marriage as a political goal or a social ideal.Â If we talk about it as a social ideal, as does Jonathan Rauch, we might realize more quickly the political goal.
That last comments shows why this is so.Â He sees that extending the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples means more than just conferring privileges on these relationships.Â It also affirms the values which have long undergirded traditional marriage.
If you want to convince the skeptics, have the “practitioners” remind us how serious they are about their vows.Â That may not please some gay activists, but it might just cause some currently opposed to gay marriage to change their minds.Â That one reader did.Â And who knows how many other persuadable individuals are out there.
*Just watch nearly any American movie with a marriage at its core if you don’t believe me.