Maggie Gallagher examines David Blankenhorn’s book The Future of Marriage and finds much to recommend it. Her article rightly points out the crux of the matter--which is also a bit of an irony--in the debate over marriage: the clamoring for "gay marriage" seems to subtract from rather than add to the definition of marriage. A taste: In a court brief recently, 30 professors of history and family law told judges that marriages are "committed, interdependent partnerships between consenting adults." What’s missing from our understanding of marriage these days, she points out rather incredulously, is love and eros. By stretching the limits of marriage to include every conceivable union between two consenting adults, don’t we make it rather milquetoast and unappealing? Exactly.
While I don’t doubt that there are sincere and good people who advocate for the "right" of homosexuals to marry each other because they wish to fulfill some romantic longings, it would be foolish to ignore how unromantic marriage becomes when it is no longer an institution that ties eros to a social purpose. The social purpose is now the protection of a "right" and the eros (if it even exists) is incidental and no longer essential to that purpose. From the expectant longing of a Jane Austen novel we now descend into the mind-numbing morass of a legal brief. Hooray for us.