Ross Responds

Not to me, alas, but maybe that will come. But this point seems to me to be the crux of it. Ross concedes, as does Frum, that his Catholic conception of marriage is no longer even shared by most Catholics. Instead, our common assumption now is that:

marriage exists to celebrate romantic love and provide public recognition for mutually-supportive couples, with no inherent connection of any kind to gender difference and/or procreation, and with only a rhetorical connection to the ideal of permanence.

Since this is basically the theory that much of our society already holds, redefining marriage to include gay relationships is unlikely to have anything like the kind of impact on American life that, say, the divorce revolution of the 1960s and 1970s did. But again, I think it’s a little naive to assume that it will have no impact at all  that legal changes don’t beget further cultural changes, and that public definitions don’t influence private conduct. Maybe the potential consequences are so vanishingly minimal that they’re easily outweighed by the benefits to gay couples; that’s certainly a reasonable position. But looking out across America’ landscape of heterosexual dysfunction, it’s still a little hard for me to accept that what this moment demands of us is the legal formalization indeed, the constitutionalization, if Judge Walker has his way of the ideological conceit that marriage has no necessary connection to gender difference, procreation or childrearing.

What this means is that gay people's lives are to be used to buttress an ideology of marriage that straight people have already abandoned. Now, even if you make the worst assumptions about the impact of marriage equality as an idea in America, does it not strike you as, well, simply unfair to use gays as a way to lecture straights? Are we not ends in ourselves, rather than means to others' ends?

And the benefit of marriage is not just for gay couples. It is also for our straight families who want and need to be able to include us fully in their lives. The cost of the stigmatization of gay people is not just on gay people, just as anti-miscegenation laws hurt blacks and whites. We are all connected. Why would conservatives not want to bring a new minority into an existing institution, rather than, at best, balkanize them into a separate identity or, at worst, treat them as if they and their families didn't exist at all?