(How) Will Gay Marriage Weaken Marriage as a Social Institution?: A Reply to Andrew Koppelman

The following article is from the Fall 2004 University of St. Thomas Law Journal Symposium on the Federal Marriage Amendment:

In his provocative essay, Andrew Koppelman reiterates the new conventional wisdom: arguments against gay marriage are failing, and the future of gay marriage is practically assured.  Opponents of same-sex marriage are, he says, “tongue-tied”:

Life in a  democratic and pluralistic society tends to promote more egalitarian attitudes toward differences of gender and sexual orientation.  That’s reflected in the generational divide over same-sex marriage: while most Americans oppose it, most 18-to-29-year-olds are in favor.

. . .

The story of opposition to same-sex marriage is one of steady decay.

Indeed, Koppelman describes the case against gay marriage as so irrational as to be something close to evidence of mental illness.  Those of opposed to gay marriage are: “blasting away at invisible phantoms . . . insulat[ed] from reality,” displaying an unseemly “eagerness to scapegoat innocent people,” and rather like those ignorant Salem villagers who hunted down witches, “unable to understand the forces . . . transforming their world.”  Opposition to gay marriage is thus merely “a report of a mental association,” which amounts to “magical thinking”:

“Gay people appear to be associated in many people’s minds with social trends that they dislike.”

Scholars don’t usually talk like this.

To read the essay in its entirety, click here . . . 


Maggie, it is so common now for the SSM supporter (SSMer) to make these sort of pronouncements even as their own view is replete with these very flaws. The content of proSSM arguments is rather thin but at least we engage their actual arguments rather than misrepresentations. I dunno. I think that the advocates for SSM have a lot in common with the advocates of "choice" on abortion, in this dependancy on distorted renderings of the arguments, and indeed caracatures of the people, they disagree with. If Koppleman thinks public opinion is a good way to keep score,then, why assign more credibility to the young rather than the experienced and more mature respondents to surveys? When it comes to unlimited abortion and unlimited divorce, to mention just a couple of examples, the young seem to have begun to buck the sort of trend that Koppleman and other SSMers routinely depend upon. I detect the same has begun to happen in our inner cities regarding fatherlessnes - which is no less a complicated aspect of society that is as stubborn against reversal as I'd expect entrenched SSM will be in those places that have it. My point is that our magical thinking draws from experience both good and bad; and unfortunately youngsters who experience the reprecussions of these unjust impositions on society have gained their experience very early in life. It wouldn' be the current young crop who'd greverse the trend, perhaps, bute generation or two who follow, as with divorce and abortion revolutions. Some proSSM leading lights have great difficulty meriting accumulated isdom in the form of tradition and religious teachings. I think this has more to do with the magical thinking of radical individualism than it has to do with a superior philosphy or attitude or evolved reasoning. It comes down to how one feels rather tha how one responds by force of will to the objective truths of human nature. Witch hunts and scapegoating? Has he looked at the SSM campaign lately? Cheerio.