The feeling seems to be growing that gay marriage is inevitably coming our way in the U.S., perhaps through a combination of judicial fiat and legislation in individual states. Growing, too, is the sense of a shift in the climate of opinion. The American public seems to be in the process of changing its mind—not actually in favor of gay marriage, but toward a position of slightly revolted tolerance for the idea. Survey results suggest that people have forgotten why they were so opposed to the notion even as recently as a few years ago.Yeah, people couldn't have been convinced by argument that there was no good reason to oppose same-sex marriage; they must have simply forgotten why they were opposed in the first place. "Well, I seem to remember I was against same-sex marriage, but I can't seem to remember why. Guess I'd better just resign myself to slightly revolted tolerance from now on." I'll have to check USA Today's site to see if they have any of their old surveys archived; I'd love to see how many people checked the "tolerant, yet slightly revolted" option. Wait, that's funny: This opinion piece from USA Today states that recent polling data shows increasing numbers of Americans opposed to same-sex marriage. I guess they forgot that they forgot that they opposed same-sex marriage.
To me, what is at stake in this debate...is our ability to maintain the most basic components of our humanity. I believe, in fact, that we are at an “Antigone moment.” Some of our fellow citizens wish to impose a radically new understanding upon laws and institutions that are both very old and fundamental to our organization as individuals and as a society. As Antigone said to Creon, we are being asked to tamper with “unwritten and unfailing laws, not of now, nor of yesterday; they always live, and no one knows their origin in time.” I suspect, moreover, that everyone knows this is the case, and that, paradoxically, this very awareness of just how much is at stake is what may have induced, in defenders of those same “unwritten and unfailing laws,” a kind of paralysis.To me, this sounds a lot like a natural law argument, something I don't have much sympathy for. As I see it, laws are created by humans to serve their needs; humans do not serve unchanging natural laws. (I also thought it was strange that Schulman thinks people have forgotten their reasons for opposing SSM but everyone simply knows that we are in danger of tampering with the very fabric of society.)
Their union is not a formalizing of romantic love but represents a certain idea—a construction, an abstract thought—about how best to formalize the human condition. This thought, embodied in a promise or a contract, is what holds marriage together, and the creation of this idea of marriage marks a key moment in the history of human development, a triumph over the alternative idea, which is concubinage.This seems to be at odds with his opening claims that human beings are attempting to tamper with laws whose origins in time are unknown. If traditional heterosexual marriage is simply an idea, why can't that idea be altered as society's (and citizens') needs change? As Schulman points out, after all, "Circumstances have, admittedly, changed."
Why should I not be able to marry a man? The question addresses a class of human phenomena that can be described in sentences but nonetheless cannot be. However much I might wish to, I cannot be a father to a pebble—I cannot be a brother to a puppy—I cannot make my horse my consul. Just so, I cannot, and should not be able to, marry a man. If I want to be a brother to a puppy, are you abridging my rights by not permitting it? I may say what I please; saying it does not mean that it can be.That's right—Schulman just equated two members of the same sex wanting to marry each other with someone wanting to be brother to a puppy. ("It's gibberish! You people are talking nonsense!! How can I reason with people whose words have no meaning?") Without even getting into how many people do come to think of pets as family members, Schulman's argument here is mind-bogglingly bad (whether out of mere callousness or malice I have no idea): No rights are lost if someone is told that they cannot be a brother to a puppy. But when a same-sex couple is told they can't marry, there are substantive rights on the line—somewhere over a thousand, by one estimate.
Severing this connection [between human beings and our animal origins] by defining it out of existence—cutting it down to size, transforming it into a mere contract between chums—sunders the natural laws that prevent concubinage and incest. Unless we resist, we will find ourselves entering on the path to the abolition of the human. The gods move very fast when they bring ruin on misguided men.Wow, now that's a slippery slope! Not only will concubinage and incest naturally follow the adoption of SSM but the very destruction of humanity itself!! All those underachievers who always pull out the same old hat about polygamy should be embarrassed. Schulman puts them to shame.