NRO Editors on the Passage of Same-Sex Marriage in New York


The editors of National Review on the passage of New York's same-sex marriage law:

For years, we were told that same-sex marriage was necessary for meeting couples’ concrete needs. Then, that it could and should be used to make same-sex couples live by marital norms. More recently, that relationship recognition was necessary for equal personal dignity. Now Katherine Franke, on the day that same-sex marriage passes in New York, tells us that that was all wrong.

The latest canard is that the defeat of the conjugal conception of marriage is inevitable because there isn’t even an argument for it. But the core argument is simple, and pieces like Franke’s bolster it: As many liberals now concede and even embrace, redefining marriage leaves no principled reason—none at all—not to recognize relationships of every size and type. As normative features of marriage, permanence, exclusivity, and sexual complementarity are a package deal. The first two norms make sense—are intelligible as norms—only because of the link between marriage and procreation. The only question, increasingly, is whether the loss of these once-defining attributes of marriage is bad. For clearheaded and candid liberationists, it’s only just. (Think: Which argument for same-sex “marriage” wouldn’t easily extend to any relationship that someone, somewhere, finds most fulfilling? Non-discrimination among loving relationships? Non-stigmatization? It won’t hurt anyone else’s marriage?)

And so, when emboldened liberals use this victory to push their quasi-religious myth of Inevitable Historical Progress, we should recall that there was nothing inevitable about it. New York Republican senators could have tabled the bill and sent the issue to the people, without moral or political cost, and it would have been over. Liberals opposed a marriage referendum for exactly one reason: They would have lost, as they have in all 31 states that put the issue to a referendum. But in a year when Democratic minorities have been fleeing statehouses to block unfavorable votes, the New York senate’s Republican majority brought this upon itself, and for no apparent reason.