Sunday, February 29, 2004

I know that David Shipley has said that he and his fellow New York Times op-ed page editors "tend to look for articles that ... make arguments that have not been articulated elsewhere in the editorial space." But does that mean it's necessary to publish a pro-gay-marriage article that takes seriously the most ill-supported, preposterous aguments of gay-marriage opponents?

The power of "marriage" lies in its symbolic authority to reinforce monogamy and stability when temptation calls. The hope is that, having taken vows before family and friends, people will think twice before breaking them. It is this shared meaning of marriage that is central to the success of so many individual unions.

Yet it is precisely this shared definition that causes many Americans to worry that legalizing gay marriages would undermine straight ones. By sharing the institution with couples whose union they don't trust or respect, they fear, the sanctity of their own bonds could be compromised.

Oh, please. People who oppose gay marriage do so because they think gay people are icky (or simply immoral by definition) and thus don't deserve the same institutional validation as straights.

And if Shipley does think this is an appropriately thought-provoking pro-gay-marriage piece, why pair it with this utterly conventional anti-gay-marriage piece by Lisa Schiffren (author of Dan Quayle's Murphy Brown speech), which is entirely consistent with the Bush position on gay rights?

To ex-New Republic editor Shipley, liberalism that isn't ashamed of liberal argumentsis an embarrassment, but full-throated conservatism is okey-dokey.

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