I received an email touting this piece that works hard to demolish straw men. Jon Chait simply assumes that choice is always good, but gives no consideration to what might happen if we, in effect, apotheosize choice, thereby, among other things, utterly severing the connection between adult self-fulfillment and childrearing. If it’s all about choice, why can’t I choose a plurality of mates, without any regard for the welfare of the children who may happen to be associated with the arrangement.
Yes, marriage isn’t just about children and childrearing, but our understanding of it--however badly articulated by some proponents--naturally begins there. Chait’s, er, argument is so focused on the fulfillment of individuals who seem selfish or self-centered by definition (they’re choosers, not bearers of responsibility) that he can’t see the force of that point of departure. He diminishes our responsibility for the sake of our freedom.
To be sure, the proponents of same-sex marriage aren’t alone in making this argument and they’re just following in the footsteps of other "possessive individualists." The real argument isn’t about same-sex marriage, it’s about what it means to be a responsible member of a community, about whether our burdens must be accepted or are only legitimate if they’re freely chosen.