Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage: Endnotes

KATHERINE YOUNG AND PAUL NATHANSON

Notice to Reader: "The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."


Endnotes: The original article is here.

  1. Katherine K. Young, affidavit for Halpern et al. v. Canada (A.G.) et al. and MCCT v. Canada (A.G.) et al. , Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court), 12 July 2002, court files 684/00 and 39/2001; Hendricks and LeBoeuf v. Canada (A.G.) , Quebec Superior Court, 18 September 2002; and Egale v. Canada (A.G.) , British Columbia Supreme Court, 3 October 2001.

  2. Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, "Questioning Some of the Claims for Gay Marriage," presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Ottawa, 20 February 2003.

  3. Sexual orientation, moreover, is not entirely a "cultural construction" and therefore subject to continual deconstruction and reconstruction. Heterosexuality has a partially biological foundation in most people but nonetheless functions effectively only when supported by religious or other cultural institutions. In other words, important aspects of it must be taught within a larger cultural context. But homosexuality, too, has a partially biological foundation. Gay people should be harmed by cultural guidance provided for the majority. Therefore, we argue that cultural institutions, including religious ones, should avoid negativity toward the gay minority even as they support the straight majority. Many have already taken steps to do so.

  4. Marriage cannot be defined adequately except by contrasting it with mating. Like all other animal species that reproduce sexually, humans mate. That is a biological function. Unlike other species, however, humans are encouraged to mate within the cultural context of marriage. Our greatest evolutionary advantage has been to rely on culture rather than instinct, which has made possible adaptations to suit every ecological niche. Culture is imposed on nature, in other words, to create order out of what would otherwise be chaos.

  5. David C. Geary and Mark V. Flinn, "Evolution of Human Parental Behavior and the Human Family," Parenting: Science and Practice, 1:1-2 (January-June 2002): 5-61.

  6. This usage is supported by dictionaries such as Webster, in which the word can refer to "an authoritative standard," a "model," or "a principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behavior" ("Norm," [dated] 2003, Merriam Webster Dictionary, [visited] 3 May 2003, http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictioinary.) The word has been used in this sense by lawyers. In Legal Traditions of the World (Oxford University Press, 2000), H. Patrick Glenn argues that norms are the basis of comparative law because they are found in all cultures. He examines the ways in which norms are defined, given authority, and encouraged or enforced. And he shows how "normativity" and religion are intertwined, especially in the "webs of belief" in small-scale cultures (what he calls "chthonic" ones), world religions (such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or Confucianism), and civil or common-law systems (which have had close links with Christianity). The same word is used in a very different ways, however, by social scientists and mathematicians. They use it in a statistical sense, for example, which is defined by Webster as "a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group" and so on.

  7. Suzanne G. Frayser, Varieties of Sexual Experience: An Anthropological Perspective on Human Sexuality (New Haven: HRAF Press, 1985). According to Frayser, "rules are part of the definition of marriage in the sense that marriage is an intrinsically human social relationship. Humans partially organize their lives in conformity with the rules they have created" (248).

  8. Scholars in comparative religion study the worldviews of both small-scale societies (such as those of North American Indians) and large-scale societies (such as those of China and India). In the former, religion is fully integrated into what we would consider the secular aspects of culture; everything is religiousžnot only beliefs about this or that deity but also about food production, kinship, political structures, and so on. Religion is fully integrated in traditional large-scale societies, too, but it is more specialized; everything has a religious component, but distinctions are made among (religious) law, (religious) art, (religious) economic structures, (religious) political institutions, and so on. As a result, the study of comparative religion includes many topics that those outside the field might not identify immediately as religious. For instance, religions are very concerned with biological matters such as sex, reproduction, contraception, birth, and childrearing. "Religions thus act as culturally phrased biological messages. They arise from the survival strategies of past group members and continue to advise at the present time. As such, a religion is a primary set of 'reproductive rules,' a kind of 'parental investment handbook.'" (Vernon Reynolds and Ralph Tanner, The Biology of Religion [London: Longman House, 1983] 294).

  9. "Every culture of the world recognizes some form of the institution of marriage...." (Edith Turner and Pamela R. Frese, "Marriage," in Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade, vol. 9 [New York: Macmillan, 1987] 218).

  10. Some people might call this "social engineering." And it is to the extent that culture itself always involves the promotion of some possibilities over others. But remember two things. First, those who would redefine marriage to promote the interests of gay people could be charged with the very same thing. Second, neither we nor our opponents are advocating either the kind of behavior modification associated with B. F. Skinner.

  11. According to anthropologist Frayser, "the definition [of marriage] should be broad enough to facilitate the identification of a 'marriage' in each society, but not so broad that it does not sufficiently differentiate marriage from other relationships.... [M]y own definition of marriage derives from a review of the careful attempts to define it made by other social scientists, e.g. Gough and Goodenough, as well as from my analysis of ethnographic reports of marriage in a variety of societies. I have found that I can most consistently and usefully identify marriage in cross-cultural contexts by using the following definition. Marriage is a relationship within which a group socially approves and encourages sexual intercourse and the birth of children.... When we are talking about marriage, we are considering the dimensions of a relationship, regardless of its consequences. In a marriage, people can be reproductive. In purely sexual relationships, they should not be reproductive (Frayser 248).Our own definition includes all this but also some implicit features.

  12. For Orthodox Jews, men (though not women) are divinely commanded to marry. A primary motif in Jewish theology is that of the "marriage" between God and Israel; this becomes a primary liturgical motif during shabbat (the sabbath). Among Orthodox Jews, moreover, only married men are allowed to wear the tallit (prayer shawl). Something similar is true of Hinduism. According to one ancient source, "a man, after securing a wife, regards himself as more complete" (Aitareya Aranyaka I.2.4). Most Hindu men have had to marry, although a few exceptions have been allowed. We could give dozens of other examples. Using culture in this way could be construed as "privileging" heterosexuality and attacked as "politically incorrect." On the other hand, it could be construed as common sense.

  13. World religions have recognized that maleness and femaleness lie at the heart of human existence and that each has a cosmic dimension (an image of the deity, say, or a fundamental aspect of creation). Jewish scripture says that men and women were created in the divine image. God blessed them with the following commandment: "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:27-28). According to a Confucian scholar of the Han period, "in all things there must be correlates.... The yin is the correlate of the yang, the wife of the husband...." (Tung Chung shu; cited in Terry Woo, "Confucianism and Feminism," in Feminism and World Religions, ed. Arvind Sharma and Katherine K. Young [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999] 122). Islamic scripture says that "God created the original man and woman from whose union all others descended" (Qur'an 4:1 and 30:20-21). For Christians, the distinction between male and female originated in God's creation. Jesus said that "from the beginning of creation he made them male and female. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and the two become one flesh. They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide" (Mark 10: 5-6).

  14. All world religions link marriage with progeny. The Islamic view, for instance, is that "[t]o bring forth a child is a four-faceted intimacy which is the original reason for encouraging it even after being safe-guarded against excessive desire, [because] no one wants to meet God as a celibate. The first is to conform to the love of God by seeking to produce the child in order to perpetuate mankind" (Madelain Farah, Marriage and Sexuality in Islam: A Translation of al-Ghazali's Book on the Etiquette of Marriage from the Ihya' (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1984) 11). According to an ancient Indian source, "the wife is indeed half of oneself; therefore as long as a man does not secure a wife so long he does not beget a son and so he is till then not complete [or whole]" (Satapatha Brahmana V.2.1.10; cited in Pandurang Vaman Kane, History of Dharmasastra: Ancient and Mediaeval Religious and Civil Law, Vol. II. [Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1974] note 35, 429).

  15. Every society has used symbols and rituals to foster the bonding between men and children. One reward for Jewish fathers, for instance, is being able to participate in rituals with their sons. Examples include brit milah (circumcision on a son's eighth day), pidyon ha-ben ("redeeming" a first-born son, on his thirtieth day, by replacing the boy with a monetary donation to the "temple"), and bar mitzvah (the first time a son is called to read the Torah in synagogue). The great classical and medieval rabbis were aware of the need to make sure that human fathers, unlike those of other species, know who their children are. Sa'adiah Gaon, for instance, observed that "divine Wisdom forbade fornication in order that men might not become like the beasts with the result that no one would know his father so as to show him reverence in return for having raised him" (cited in Gerald Blidstein, Honor Thy Father and Mother: Filial Responsibility in Jewish Law and Ethics (New York: Ktav, 1975) 4). One Hindu strategy to involve men in reproduction and family life was to link men's identity directly to having a son in his own image. "A wife was called `jaya,' because the husband was born in the wife as a son" (Aitareya Brahmana 33.1 cited by Kane Vol. II, note 35, 429.) Indebted to the ancestors, Hindu men are obliged to have a son who will perform their funeral rituals later in life. Confucianism also linked male identity to sons: "[s]ons were so indispensable in carrying on the family line and in maintaining the honors to ancestors that failure to have them was regarded as a serious offense against filial piety. With sons the rites to parents could not be continued, and not only would the living be disgraced, but the spirits of the dead, deprived of such service, would be in misery" (Kenneth Scott Latourette, The Chinese: Their History and Culture (New York: Macmillan, 1962) 569.

  16. See Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (Albany: State University of new York Press, 2001).

  17. For comparative studies on sex and marriage, see the following: Clellan S. Ford and Frank A. Beach, Patterns of Sexual Behavior (New York: Harper Colophon, 1972); Bron B. Ingoldsby and Suzanna Smith, Families in Multicultural Perspective (New York: Guilford Press, 1995); G. Robina Quale, A History of Marriage Systems (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988); Ruth C. Busch, Family Systems: Comparative Study of the Family (New York: Peter Lang, 1990); Robin Fox, Kinship and Marriage in Anthropological Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967). For studies on sex and marriage in specific cultures, see the following; Abdelwahab Bouhdiba, Sexuality in Islam (London: Routledge, 1985); J. Schacht, "Nikah," and W. Heffening, "'Urs," in Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. P. J. Bearman and others, both in vol. 10 (Leiden: Brill, 2000); Arlene Anderson Swidler, ed, Marriage among the Religions of the World (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990); Waldemar Molinski, "Marriage: Institution and Sacrament" and "Parents," in Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology, ed. Karl Rahner and others., vol. 3 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969); Ben-Zion Schereschewsky, "Marriage: Legal Aspects," in Encyclopedia Judaica, ed. Cecil Roth and others, vol. 11 (New York: Macmillan, 1972); Raymond Apple, "Marriage: The Concept," in Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 11; Jeremy Cohen, "Be Fertile and Increase: "Fill the Earth and Master It"; The Ancient and Medieval Career of a Biblical Text (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989);

  18. Data for this category are drawn from both large-scale and small-scale societies; the latter are different in some ways from the former.

  19. When discussion is limited to historically Christian societies, which is often the case in current debates over the nature of marriage, its distinctive aspects are deceptive. Often hidden is the fact that Christian marriage shares many features with Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, and other forms of marriage. Christian marriage, like many other Christian institutions, did not emerge immediately. The early community was an eschatological one, expecting the end of history and beginning of the Kingdom at any moment. Once it became clear that the end and new beginning would not occur in the immediate future, Christians had to start planning a new social order to replace the existing one within history. And that meant establishing rules for, among other things, marriage. Advocates of gay marriage like to play on this variable within the history of Christianity as a way of deconstructing any unity within the tradition. See, they argue expediently, Christian institutions have changed in the past. Why not now?

  20. "The cross-cultural method contests the hypothesis suggested by a single case and can check the validity of common assumptions derived from the study of a few cases. The results can help anthropologists to rethink their assumptions (Frayser 425-426, note 13). Frayser bases her analysis on a sample of sixty-two societies from Africa, the Mediterranean region, Eurasia, the Pacific islands, North America, and South America. These represent eight types of economy and five types of lineage, or descent. For further details on her method in connection with sample size, for instance, or control for bias, see her Varieties of Sexual Expeience.

  21. See, for instance, David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Must Urgent Social Problem (New York: Basic Books, 1995) and David Popenoe, Life without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (New York: Martin Kessler Books, 1996).
    Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher write that the children of two-parent families are better off in many ways than those of single parents (The Case for Marriage [New York: Doubleday, 2000]). There is evidence that the children of biological parents, moreover, are generally even better off than those of social parents. Browning notes that "[b]y the mid-1990s, reports by demographers ... showed that children in the U.S. not living with both biological parents were on average two to three times more likely to have difficulties in school, in finding employment, and in successfully forming families themselves. Income lessens these consequences, but only by 50 percent" (Browning 17-18). For the importance of biological parents, including fathers, see Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing up with a Single Parent (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994). Their work suggests that the formation of identity, not only economics and family stability, is a key factor in socialization.
    This brings up something that has not yet been explored adequately by social scientists, something that is associated specifically with fathers (or mothers). At some level, identity always involves bodies. Being male (or female), in other words, parental bodies are important rather than peripheral in the development of children. We say this for two reasons. First, the formation of personal identity involves learning how to deal with the different physiological experiences of boys and girls. Second, the formation of healthy heterosexuality involves not only the transmission of culture from one generation to another but also the experiential lessons learned by watching parental bonding in spite of sexual differences.

  22. According to Don Browning, " [T]he most interesting base reality of these trends is the increasing distance, if not separation, of fathers from their children. Divorce, non-marital birth, and teen pregnancies not only correlate with and accentuate poverty, they correlate with a weaker if not completely absent relation with fathers. This means a loss of the financial contributions of the father. It also means a loss of other unique qualities such as conscience formation, the loss of mediation to offspring of the father's 'social capital' (the resources of his extended family, his friends, his other social contacts), a decline of trust in the reliability of the world, and even a loss of faith in the dependability of the mother herself" (Marriage and Modernization: How Globalization Threatens Marriage and What to Do about It [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003]: 18; his emphasis).

  23. To reproduce itself, a population must have a total fertility rate of 2.1. No developed Western country except the United States is currently reproducing itself; these countries have both declining birth rates and declining death rates. The Canadian rate is 1.7; the American rate is 2.1, but that is due mainly to massive immigration and not to the general pattern of educated couples having fewer children ("Total Fertility Rates by Country — North America," [dated] 4 May 2003, Overpopulation.com [visited] 4 May 2003, http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/Basic_Information/total_fertility_rate/north_america.html). The rate for developed countries in general is 1.6 — down from 1.9 in 1990 ("Total Fertility Rates," [dated] 4 May 2003, Overpopulation.com) http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/basic_information/total_fertility_rate/).

  24. The most obvious example of this would be Quebec, which is one reason Premier Bernard Landry has offered extra financial benefits to those who have children (thus infuriating feminists, who believe for some reason that this degrades women).

  25. For a brilliant expose of this underlying premise of what we call "ideological feminism," see Daphne Patai, Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998). We discuss her theory in "Legalizing Misandry: A Quiet Revolution Based on Contempt for Men" (forthcoming from McGill-Queen's University Press). Among those who exemplify this mentality is Catharine A. MacKinnon, the chief architect in both the United States and Canada of changes to the laws governing pornography and sexual harassment. According to MacKinnon and her pal Andrea Dworkin, all sexual relations between men and women, including those initiated by and enjoyed by women, amount to rape. Why? Because, MacKinnon points out, women in patriarchal societies are incapable of giving their assent to sexual relations with men.

  26. William N. Eskridge, The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment (New York: Free Press, 1996); see also his affidavit for Halpern et al. v. Canada (A.G.) et al. sworn on 14 November 2000, court file 684/00. For the opposing argument, see our affidavit for the same case along with Peter Lubin and Dwight Duncan, "Follow the Footnote; or, The Advocate as Historian of Same-Sex Marriage," Catholic University Law Review 47 (1998): 1271-1325.

  27. We do not advocate polygamy. Who knows what would happen, after all, if elite people take more than their "fair share" of potential spouses? But if we reject the argument that there is something inherently wrong with gay marriage, why accept the same argument against polygamy? It would be hard to argue that there is anything inherently wrong with polygamy, even though it is more complex than monogamy. Remember that polygamy refers to many marriages, not many wives. Both polygyny (many wives) and polyandry (many husbands) would clearly support inequality and thus be unacceptable in Canada; polygamy, however, would offer the same opportunity to both husbands and wives. Given the required regulations, moreoveržand every institution must be regulatedžwe have no reason to assume that many people would be able to afford more than one spouse in any case. But the point here is not about popularity or even social desirability; it is about moral and legal consistency. If members of the gay minority should be allowed to marry, regardless of potential harm to society, why not members of this other minority?

  28. Halpern et al. v. Canada (A.G.) et al., Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court), 12 July 2002, Blair, paragraph 5.

  29. It is true that some Jews have become "self-haters." The most disturbing examples come from Germany in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (See Amos Elon, The Pity of It All: A History of Jews in Germany, 1743-1933 [New York: Metropolitan Books, 2002]). It is worth noting that these Jews were almost invariably the most assimilated ones, however, not the most marginalized or isolated ones. The latter, with access to the richness of Jewish tradition and the solidarity of strong Jewish communities, seldom internalized anti-Semitic stereotypes.

  30. Canada, unlike the United States, is very secular. Not quite as secular as the countries of western Europe, but secular enough to prevent or ridicule any reference to religion in the public square.

  31. In Hall v. Powers (2002), the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the Durham Catholic School Board could not forbid Marc Hall to attend the prom with his gay partner, even though church authorities argued that this would contradict religious doctrine on sexuality and even though it was a denominational school with special protection under the Constitution Act 1867. The judge ignored the church's own definition of authority, pointing out that Roman Catholics were divided on this matter, and that the criterion for judgment should be a "fully informed ordinary citizen" (who could be secular and even unsympathetic to the Church). If a constitutionally protected church cannot uphold its teachings on sexuality (including its guidance of adolescent sexuality), then so much the worse for the Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and so on. In Chamberlain v. Surrey School District No. 36 (2002) SCC 86, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that a school board in British Columbia would have to approve for supplementary reading three books that featured gay parents. It argued that no single conception of morality should be allowed to deny or exclude opposed points of view. The majority opinion rejected the idea that parents have a "privileged" role" in forming their children's values, one that can be expressed through school-board participation, because that would contravene the broad principles of tolerance and non-sectarianism.

  32. According to one online source, the Canadian divorce rate was 45% in 1996; the American rate that year was 49% ("World Divorce Statistics," [undated], Divorce Magazine, [visited] 3 May 2003, http://www.divorcemag.com/statistics/statsWorld.shtml).

  33. "Males Could Create 'Designer Eggs,'" Montreal Gazette, 2 May 2003: A-17.

  34. In the United States, things are different. Access to medical plans, for instance, is not given automatically to all citizens as individuals. Some gay people could get on the plans of their spouses, if they were married.

  35. We refer not to nationalism, which is about society as a whole, but to what could be called "group nationalism" but is usually called "identity politics." Underlying the demand for individual rights, after all, is a qualification that usually remains hidden by political or ideological rhetoric: this is about rights for the individuals of specific groups. The debate over gay marriage, for instance, is ultimately about gay rights, not individual rights.

  36. Closely related to that scenario is a more extreme (but by no means impossible) one: anomie. Anomie refers literally to the absence of law. In a larger sense, it refers to the absence of social cohesion and sense of collective purpose. It could be argued - and we dožthat our society is becoming more and more fragmented along sexual (though also racial, ethnic, religious, and ideological) lines. The signs of social decay, at least the early warnings, are everywhere in Western countries. Consider only the high rates of divorce, the millions of abandoned wives and fatherless children, and the prevalence of addictions. Not one of these problems, alone, would destroy a society. Nor would the immediate results of legalizing gay marriage. But so many problems, most of them closely linked, should give us pause. So far, every society has disintegrated for one reason or another. Some are overtaken by more vigorous ones (almost always more brutal). Others collapse due to internal paralysis (usually marked by, among other things, the dissolution of family life). Still others mutate under pressure (which is what transformed ancient Roman society into medieval Christian society and then the latter into modern society). We have no reason to assume, in any case, that our society will endure forever.

  37. Not because all gay people are hedonistic but because the most visible gay people are those most closely associated with the bar scene, the drugs, and so on.

  38. The demand for surrogate mothers by gay men is already a fact in both Canada and the United States. Even before any decision had been made on the legalization of gay marriage in Canada, for instance, a massive spread in Canada's major daily newspaper featured this very phenomenon. "Men, who years ago ruled out children, in the brave moments when they came out to family and friends, are plunging into parenthood as never before in a sweeping social movement some have dubbed the 'gayby boom.'" (Margaret Philp, "Gayby Boom," Globe and Mail, 3 May 2003: F-4).

  39. This problem, too, has already surfaced. Feminists, notably members of the Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Engineering, have long argued that surrogacy is inherently demeaning to women, turning female bodies into "wombs for hire," and also that it presents insuperable psychological problems due to an innate desire of women to keep the children they gestate (and thus break their contracts with the social mothers). These feminists have agitated for an outright ban on surrogacy (although they have identified no ideological problem with artificial insemination, which allows single women to have children of their own). "While more gay men are exploring the brave new world of reproductive technologies," writes Margaret Philp, "it is a route to parenthood that could abruptly close under a proposed new federal law being debated in the House of Commons. Bill C-13, An Act Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction, would license fertility clinics, but also outlaw financial compensation to sperm and egg donors and to surrogates, aside from expenses. 'My belief is that surrogacy will be forced underground,' Ms. [Sherry] Levitan grumbles. 'People who can afford to will go to California." ("Gaybe Boom" F-5).

  40. For the suicide rates of men and women, see 2001 Annual Report (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2002) 46; see also Elizabeth Thompson, "Quebec Leads Provinces in Suicides: Rate among Our Men Is More Than Triple That of Quebec's Women, Study Finds," Montreal Gazette, 18 September 2002: A-14. For the school dropout rates of men and women, see "Labour Force Statistics" [undated], B.C. Stats [visited] 3 October 2002, http:// www.google.ca/search?q=cache:QXSi7q6ueEsC:www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/pubs/lfs/lfs

  41. For more on this, see Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001), the first volume of our trilogy on men; we are now at work on the second volume, Legalizing Misandry: A Quiet Revolution Based on Contempt for Men.

  42. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture (New York: Knopf; Random House, 1997). Some social and political experiments, of course, are successful. Representative democracy is surely the most obvious example. There were those who warned that the American experiment would never work, for instance, or felt vindicated when the Civil War seemed to be ending it. Though flawed, nonetheless, American democracy has endured. So it will not do for us to make glib pronouncements about this new experiment. But the analogy is somewhat superficial. Even though representative democracy was a novum in the eighteenth century, democracy itself was not. It had been tried, albeit on a limited basis, in ancient Greece. Many small-scale societies, moreover, have tried informal versions of it. But gay marriage and its implications for both family and society, as we have observed, really would be unprecedented. In theory, it could work. In theory, after all, almost anything could work.

 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson. "Marriage-a-la-mode: Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage." Paper presented at Emory University, Atlanta, GA (May 14, 2003).

This article reprinted with permission from the authors. This paper will be published shortly by Emory University.

THE AUTHORS

Katherine K. Young is professor of the history of religions in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University where she teaches in the areas of comparative religion, gender, ethics, and Hinduism.

Paul Nathanson, a researcher in the same faculty, is a freelance editor and author of Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America.

The authors have jointly written Spreading Misandry The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture. Katherine Young can be reached at katherine.young@mcgill.ca. Paul Nathanson can be reached at Wordwatcher@vif.com.

Copyright © 2003 Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson