Northwestern University Law Professor Andrew Koppelman recently posted an excellent article assessing recent arguments against gay marriage put forward by leading anti-gay marriage legal scholars and political philosophers. Here is the abstract:
The case for same-sex marriage has been politically triumphant, and its victory looks inevitable. It nonetheless is curiously incomplete. It has succeeded, not because the most sophisticated opposing arguments have been considered and rejected, but because those arguments have not even been understood. Those arguments rest on complex claims, either about what sustains the stability of heterosexual marriages or about what those marriages essentially are. The most familiar claim, that recognition of same-sex marriage jeopardizes the heterosexual family, demands an account of the transformation of family norms in the past half century. Major social change should not be undertaken without a full awareness of what is at stake.
This essay remedies a major gap in the literature. It critically surveys and evaluates the arguments against same-sex marriage. You may not be persuaded by them. In fact, you shouldn’t be persuaded by them. But you need to know what they are.
Koppelman and I are at odds on a wide range of other political and constitutional issues. But I think he’s mostly on target here. As he explains, arguments against gay marriage that do not reduce to simple anti-gay bigotry can be divided into two categories: Claims that gay marriage (and possibly gay sex) is inherently wrong, and claims that it has negative social consequences, such as undermining heterosexual marriage or harming children. The first category of arguments is largely question-begging and incoherent, for reasons Koppelman outlines well. For example, some advocates claim that marriage (and perhaps sex) are only morally defensible if they take a procreative form, but then somehow try to stretch that concept to include relationships [...]