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|Author: ||Conjugal vs Revisionist|
|Subject: ||RE: Is it wrong to not support gay marriage?|
" The Historic View
Marriage as a comprehensive union: Joining spouses in body as well as mind, it is begun by commitment and sealed by sexual intercourse. So completed in the acts by which new life is made, it is specially apt for and deepened by procreation, and calls for that broad sharing of domestic life uniquely fit for family life. Uniting spouses in these all-encompassing ways, it also calls for all-encompassing commitment: permanent and exclusive. Comprehensive union is valuable in itself, but its link to children’s welfare makes marriage a public good that the state should recognize, support, and in certain ways regulate. Call this the conjugal view of marriage.
The Revisionist View
Marriage as the union of two people who commit to romantic partnership and domestic life: essentially an emotional union, merely enhanced by whatever sexual activity partners find agreeable. Such committed romantic unions are seen as valuable while emotion lasts. The state recognizes them because it has an interest in their stability, and in the needs of spouses and any children they choose to rear. Call this the revisionist view of marriage.
President Obama has made it clear that he favors the second view. He hasn’t offered any arguments for it, merely pointing to his feelings and those of his children.
Now that the president has disclosed his view, he — like all revisionists — must confront some tough questions. And he, like they, will run into a problem. Something must set marriages as a class apart from other bonds. But on every point where most agree that marriage is different, the conjugal view has a coherent explanation — and the revisionist has none.
The president has now created a platform for this very discussion; and it is a discussion we look forward to having. For as Obama himself implied, this is not a dispute featuring “bigots” on one side, any more than it has “perverts” on the other. It is a debate of reasonable people of goodwill who disagree about the nature of the most basic unit of society. In saying that he supports letting states decide the definition of marriage for themselves, Obama indicated that this issue shouldn’t be settled by judicial fiat. On this, we agree. Our national conversation shouldn’t be brought to an undemocratically abrupt end. But as it continues, advocates on all sides must contend with, and answer, the central question in this debate, without which we can’t know the what or the why of legal recognition, much less what justice demands: What is marriage?"
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