Two people meet and fall in love.
They get married, they become upstanding members of their community,
they care for each other when one falls ill, they grow old together.
What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, says Jonathan Rauch, and that's
the point. If the two people are of the same sex, why should this chain
of events be any less desirable? Marriage is more than a bond between
individuals, because it also links them to the community at large.
Excluding some people from the prospect of marriage is not only harmful
to them, it is also corrosive of the institution itself.
In the wake of recent state,
federal, and Canadian court decisions, the controversy over gay marriage
has reached a critical point in American political life, as skittish
politicians rush in to stem what they see as a threat to marriage. But,
as Jonathan Rauch shows in this compelling and wise book, the
politicians have the whole thing backward. Rauch is one of America's
most original and incisive social commentators, and here he explains why
gay marriage is important -- even crucial -- to the health of marriage
as an institution, grounding his argument in mainstream values. He
outlines why marriage is vital to a well-functioning society, why
marriage gains strength from being available to and encouraged for all
citizens, why gay people will benefit from gay marriage, why straight
people will benefit from gay marriage, and why the institution of
marriage will benefit as well. He then proceeds to demolish the
arguments so often put forward by conservatives who call themselves
defenders of marriage, showing them to be nothing of the sort. Finally,
he looks at how gay marriage would work in the real world, as it bumps
up against the realities of religion, social acceptance, the law,
children, and even divorce.
At a time when marriage is losing
ground to cohabitation and is in danger of becoming just another
lifestyle choice, Rauch reaffirms that marriage is the gold standard for
committed, serious relationships. Love, sex, and marriage go together --
not just sometimes but always, not just for some people but for
everyone. Gay marriage, he shows, is a "win-win-win" for
strengthening the bonds that tie us together and for remaining true to
our national heritage of fairness and humaneness toward all.
Author, Jonathan Rauch is a correspondent for The
Atlantic Monthly, a senior writer and columnist for National
Journal, and a writer in residence at the Brookings Institution. He
is the author of several previous books on public policy, culture, and
economics, including, most recently, Government's End: Why Washington
Stopped Working. His work has appeared in The New Republic, The
Economist, Harper's, Reason, Fortune, The New York Times, The Washington
Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate, among other
publications. He is vice president of the Independent Gay Forum and
lives outside Washington, D.C.