That's right, gay-married activists. Look upon what you have wrought and tremble with dismay:
More Perfect Union By ROSS DOUTHAT
In 44 states, the future of gay marriage still depends on legislatures, governors and voters — and eventually, perhaps, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. But in New York, as in five states before it, gay marriage’s future is in the hands of gay couples themselves.
Over the decades ahead, their choices will gradually transform gay marriage from an idea into a culture: they’ll determine the social expectations associated with gay wedlock, the gay marriage and divorce rates, the differences and similarities between gay and lesbian unions, the way marriage interacts with gay parenting, and much more besides.
They’ll also help determine gay marriage’s impact on the broader culture of matrimony in America.
One possibility is that gay marriage will end up being a force for marital conservatism, among gays and straights alike. In this vision, the norms of heterosexual marriage will be the template for homosexual wedlock. Once equipped with marriage’s “entitlements and entanglements,” Jonathan Rauch predicted in his book “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America,” “same-sex relationships will continue to move toward both durability and exclusivity.” At the same time, the example of gay couples taking vows will strengthen “marriage’s status as the gold standard for committed relationships.”
Now look what you've done, Gaymerica. By deciding you wanted to marry, you invited Ross Douthat into your Gay Tent for dinner and now you'll never get rid of him. Now he's sticking his nose in your marriages and dividing you up into Good Conservative Gay Marriages and Bad Liberal Gay Marriages.
At the other end of the spectrum from Rauch’s gay conservatism are the liberationists, who hope that gay marriage will help knock marriage off its cultural pedestal altogether. To liberationists, a gay rights movement that ends up reaffirming a “gold standard” for relationships will have failed in its deeper mission — which Columbia law professor Katherine M. Franke recently summarized in a Times Op-Ed article as the quest for “greater freedom than can be found in the one-size-fits-all rules of marriage.”
That’s the kind of argument that makes social conservatives worry about polygamy (and worse). But liberationism has been gradually marginalized in the gay community over the last two decades, and gay conservatism seems to have largely carried the day. The desire to be included in an existing institution has proved stronger than the desire to eliminate every institutional constraint.
You will be astonished to discover that Ross Douthat, Gay Marriage Counselor, has found a better way to deal with this dilemma, a way that lies neither all the way to the right nor all the way to the left. Instead it finds a new way, a---shall we call this discovery a center way?
Still, there’s a third vision that’s worth pondering — neither conservative nor liberationist, but a little bit of both. This vision embraces the institution of marriage, rather than seeking to overthrow it. But it also hints that the example of same-sex unions might partially transform marriage from within, creating greater institutional flexibility — particularly sexual flexibility — for straight and gay spouses alike.
The trouble is that straight culture already experimented with exactly this kind of model, with disastrous results.
Forty years ago, Savage’s perspective temporarily took upper-middle-class America by storm. In the mid-1970s, only 51 percent of well-educated Americans agreed that adultery was always wrong. But far from being strengthened by this outbreak of realism, their marriages went on to dissolve in record numbers.
This trend eventually reversed itself. Heterosexual marriage has had a tough few decades, but its one success story is the declining divorce rate among the upper middle class. This decline, tellingly, has gone hand in hand with steadily rising disapproval of adultery.
There’s a lesson here. Institutions tend to be strongest when they make significant moral demands, and weaker when they pre-emptively accommodate themselves to human nature.
Do you know what you have to look forward to? Douthat telling gays that raising children is conservative. Douthat telling lesbians that in-vitro is immoral. Douthat pouring over gay divorce statistics to proclaim that gays in red states are more happy than gays in blue states. You'll never get rid of him now.
We all should have listened to Megan McArdle.