Proponents of same-sex marriage often demand to know how legal recognition of certain homosexual relationships as “marriage” will damage traditional heterosexual marriages. In fact, they frequently address opponents directly: How, they triumphantly ask, will ratifying Bob and Tom’s partnership hurt you?
It’s a very effective rhetorical approach. But here’s one possible answer:
The fact is, of course, that seemingly small historical events — e.g., the rise of the Jesus movement in Palestine, the invention of the stirrup, the development of moveable type, the arrival of the railroad, the GI Bill, the introduction of no-fault divorce, the Islamization of Europe — don’t automatically transform everything overnight. But they sometimes can and do fundamentally transform the world.
The law, as is often said, is a teacher. That’s why it was so important an objective of the American Civil Rights movement to get non-descrimination legislation enacted. Attitudes toward blacks that were once very common and brazenly open in the American South are now marginalized, and are, at the most uttered privately and with a sense of embarrassment even by most of those who hold them. And far fewer now hold them — largely as a result of changes, including laws and legal decisions, dating from the 1950s and 1960s. So it seems reasonable to ask precisely what, if anything, a given law or set of laws is going to be teaching.
And when the issue is as fundamental as the transformation of what it means to be a family, perhaps at least a little bit of deliberation is in order.
In the meantime, though, evidence continues to surface (and not merely at the IRS) suggesting that some moral, religious, and political positions that dissent from the rising orthodoxy regarding gay marriage and related matters are coming to the potentially coercive attention of the state:
I’m not leveling final judgment; I realize that these are partisan sources. But they raise issues that, I think, merit examination and justify concern.
And here’s a great column by Mark Steyn.