Home > Gay Marriage, Jonathan Chait, Uncategorized > Is there a case against gay marriage?

Is there a case against gay marriage?

Opposition to gay marriage in the United States remains in the majority but it’s weakening.  Part of the problem for those who oppose expanding marriage rights to all adult citizens is that their opposition seems to be rooted in a visceral dislike rather than logical reasons.  Jonathan Chait of The New Republic dismantles the arguments against gay marriage.

In a liberal society, consenting adults are presumed to be able to do as they like, and it is incumbent upon opponents of any such freedom to demonstrate some wider harm. The National Organization for Marriage, on its website, instructs its activists to answer the who-gets-harmed query like so: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who.” Former GOP Senator Rick Santorum, arguing along similar lines, has said, “[I]f anybody can get married for any reason, then it loses its special place.”


Both these arguments rest upon simple tautologies. Expanding a right to a new group deprives the rest of us of our right to deny that right to others. If making a right less exclusive devalues it, then any extension of rights is an imposition upon those who were not previously excluded–i.e., women’s suffrage makes voting less special for men.


The line “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman” is an expression of that sensibility–a reflection of unease rather than principle. As people face up to the fact that opposing gay marriage means disregarding the happiness of the people most directly (or even solely) affected by it, most of us come around. Good ideas don’t always defeat bad ideas, but they usually, over time, defeat non-ideas.

Does anyone have any reason to be against gay marriage?  Read the article; can you think of a persuasive argument against it that the article doesn’t cover?  Or where does Mr. Chait go wrong?  What harm would it do to society if gay marriage was allowed?  Also vote in the new poll!


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