Friday, July 2, 2004
Challenges for gay marriage advocates.
Geov Parrish, writing for Working Assets's on-line progressive activism magazine WorkingForChange, looks closely at the serious concerns of gay-marriage opponents. Unlike some on the left, he doesn't just shout "Bigot!" and move on. He thinks opponents have some legitimate concerns — which gay marriage advocates can address if they put their minds to it. So check out "The Non-Fanatic Case Against Gay Marriage" (6.22.04).
The crux of the issue Parrish identifies is something I've flagged before: a liberal tendency to embrace a quasi-libertarian view of marriage — the "contract law model" — which regards marriage as little more than a private contract between two individuals rather than as a social institution in which the state and society have a legitimate stake. This view says that the state shouldn't show any preferences for one sort of relationship over any other, and that consequently, in the long run, "marriage" should be regarded as just one among a variety of equally valued relationship patterns, with no legally or socially distinctive status.
If you're looking for other approaches — and if you're a religious liberal, you really should — I recommend three sources as starting places:
Eugene F. Rogers Jr's intriguing theological argument for gay marriage (rooted in the doctrine of vocation), "Sanctified Unions" (Christian Century 6.15.04);
Mary Shanley's justice-based argument for marriage (which doesn't take up gay marriage, but presents a liberal argument against the contract-law model), "Just Marriage" (Boston Review, Summer 2003); and,
Jonathan Rauch's social-good argument for marriage — including same-sex marriage — in Gay Marriage: Why It's Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America and in his article, "Dire Straights" (Washington Monthly, April 2004)
If you find other good resources, let me know.
Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 2 July 2004 at 6:01 PM