People take part in the March for Marriage outside the Supreme Court building in Washington March 26. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)
Surprise! Approval of same-sex
marriage has risen sharply among Americans in just a few
years--according to one poll, from 41% in favor in 2004 to nearly 60%
Some surprise. The same media
trumpeting this change lately worked hard to bring it about. Major
sectors of the communication industry, both news and entertainment,
have served as advocates for same-sex marriage, and the present
situation reflects their handiwork. Don't be bashful, guys, stand up
and take the credit you deserve..
In fairness to the media, most of them
undoubtedly think backing gay marriage is a good thing to do. When
moral consensus breaks down in a society, as it has in America today,
people's built-in impulse to organize life in moral categories moves
them to seek new objects of moral concern. Thus we get things like
the attempt to ban oversized soft drink containers by decree. For
Americans egged on by media, the legalization of same-sex marriage is
another, less risible instance of the same thing.
The media didn't act alone. Judges,
educators, and clergy programmed by ideology have joined politicians
prompted by expediency to do their bit. But the media have been the
loudest mouthpieces for gay marriage--shock troops of the culture
war, promoting the cause relentlessly.
Preceded by a barrage of coverage and
commentary lecturing it on what it should do, the U.S. Supreme Court
during Holy Week heard oral arguments in two gay marriage cases. Its
decision will come in late June.
While it would be hazardous to predict
the result, no one will be tremendously surprised if the justices
take a states' rights approach--upholding California's Proposition 8
banning gay marriage in that state but overturning the Defense of
Marriage Act that recognizes only man-woman unions as marriages for
purposes of federal law.
But no matter how these cases turn
out, that plainly will not be the end of it. Since the Supreme Court
is unlikely, at least for the moment, to discover in the Constitution
a fundamental right for homosexual couples to marry, pressuring the
court to do so will become a priority for gay rights activists and
their media friends. And if President Obama gets to name one or two
more justices to the court, it could happen in just a few years.
One reason gay rights groups and the
media have made such progress lately can be found in the failure of
traditional marriage supporters to offer a compelling account of the
threat that recognizing same-sex marriage poses to traditional
But consider. Statistics and everyday
observation both underline the fact that marriage is in trouble in
America today. Fewer and fewer Americans even bother to marry. Part
of the cause is the widespread collapse of agreement on what marriage
The traditional understanding is this:
marriage is a monogamous, permanent relationship between a man and a
woman, grounded in sexual complementarity and intended for the
begetting and raising of children and the mutual love and support of
the spouses. One or more essential elements of that definition are
eradicated by society's toleration of no-fault divorce,
infidelity…and same-sex marriage.
This isn't to say that all those who
want to enter into such unions wish to undermine traditional
marriage. Most are simply seeking what everyone seeks in
marriage--happiness--and who can blame them for that? But natural
human sympathy doesn't justify equating an ersatz version of marriage
with genuine marriage. If that isn't deeply harmful to traditional
marriage in these confused times, what in heaven's name is?