What is marriage?

American gay rights activist and radio host Michaelangelo Signorile recently wrote triumphantly of what lies around the corner for a country that just re-elected its “First Gay President” — as a Newsweek cover last year dubbed Obama. Claiming an early victory for his movement in the Huffington Post Signorile proclaimed that “[n]o longer will politicians — or anyone — be able to credibly claim to be supportive of gays, and to love and honor their supposed gay friends and family, while still being opposed to basic and fundamental rights like marriage”. Like many other same-sex marriage advocates, Signorile believes the re-election of Barack Obama is a harbinger of nationwide same-sex marriage legislation.

Few can deny that the movement is on the march. At the time of the election four states moved in favour of same-sex marriage and other states are quickly gathering momentum on the issue. Disturbingly, the thought embedded in Signorile’s spiel is that even polite disagreement and opposition to the claims of same-sex marriage advocates amounts to wholesale bigotry and intolerance. Heterosexual marriage supporters vehemently deny this, but many people now think that principled opposition to same-sex marriage is a delusion.

One reason why supporters of traditional marriage are losing elections is that they are losing the war for intellectual credibility. They are too often mired in facile arguments about “tradition”, Bible passages, and bleeding heart litanies about children. Supporters of gay marriage have succeeded in ridiculing these fumbling attempts at a rationale as ignorant and homophobic.

So a robust intellectual defence of the traditional view of marriage by a group of authors which includes Princeton law professor Robert P George is a welcome addition to the debate. Labelled by the New York Times as “America’s most influential conservative Christian thinker”, George, a convert from the ranks of the Democrats, is responsible for the interdenominational manifesto The Manhattan Declaration signed by a number of Christian leaders in support of traditional marriage, sanctity of life and religious liberty. Sherif Girgis is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at Princeton and a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. Ryan T. Anderson, who is William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and editor of the Witherspoon Institute’s journal Public Discourse, is a Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and a Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Altogether a formidable team. Continue reading


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