I'm not really skeptical about same-sex marriage per se. If anything, I think that same-sex marriage is a shortsighted idea that doesn't go far enough.
Most Americans insist that they want the word "marriage" to continue to mean a long-term, opposite-sex union, as it has in the Judeo-Christian world for nearly two millenniums. To put this issue into better perspective, imagine that English were more like German and that the word marriage had a lot more syllables: longtermoppositesexunion. Should same-sex couples wed under that label? I say no -- and that gay activists have been fighting the wrong battle.
The real challenge is to have the state begin to recognize the full range of healthy, non-exploitative, romantic partnerships that actually exist among human beings. Gays are correct in expressing outrage over the fact that official recognition, the power to make health decisions, inheritance rights and tax benefits, have long been granted to only one kind of committed partnership in the United States. But wanting their own committed relationships to be shoe-horned into an old institution makes little sense, especially given the poor, almost pathetic performance of that institution in recent decades. Half of first marriages fail in the U.S., after all, as do nearly two-thirds of second marriages. Is that really a club you want to join?
Monday, December 8, 2008
Robert Epstein is the former editor of "Psychology Today." These days he hangs his hat at my alma mater, UC San Diego. His biggest recent challenge, however, was at home, defending himself against his wife's charge that he was a bigot for favoring Prop. 8. He wrote Thursday in the LA Times: