Dissent Of The Day

A reader writes:

I'll preface this by saying that on the issue of gay marriage, I completely agree with your position on legalization. That being said, I read your post on the National Review, and it displayed something about your argument that I've never really realized before, something a bit disturbing. What about the people, like me, who don't seek marriage as a path to social acceptance?

I am a heterosexual, not currently in a committed relationship, but always on the lookout for one. But at the same time, for myself personally, I don't believe in marriage. When I tell people this, I often receive the same skeptical looks that I'm guessing you receive when you talk to people about your views on gay marriage, and in many cases, even hostility. The fact that my belief on this matter is partly motivated by my agnosticism doesn't help matters, but my point is: when you talk about "social incentives for stable relationships" and ask questions like, "Do you think that straight men would be more or less socially responsible without the institution of civil marriage?" it sounds like an affront to the way of life I have freely chosen.

I get that gay people should be allowed to marry, and should absolutely be included in society as equals, but you seem to be implying, perhaps unintentionally, that being married, not just having the right to marry, is essential to social equality. I could have misinterpreted you here, but if not, where does this leave me? Am I not being socially responsible because I choose not to marry?

No, I'm not implying such a thing. The data show that marriage is good for people in general - but not all people. It's the right to marry that is essential to civil equality and social responsibility.