Far from undermining marriage as a cherished social institution, same-sex marriage will tend to strengthen it. Writing in the s, John Stuart Mill identified the marriage bond as a form of slavery for women. The changing ideal of marriage has been very significant, but it happened sufficiently gradually for Western societies to adapt around it. The trend in Western countries toward recognition of same-sex marriage is not entirely a social defeat for conservatives, and I urge them, in particular, to embrace what is happening. Broadening the scope of marriage to include same-sex couples is now a coherent and attractive proposition. Messenger In its decision last week, the High Court of Australia cleared the way for a voluntary survey of the electorate to gauge community support for same-sex marriage. It will show marriage as still socially relevant, as adaptable to the needs and values of 21st-century Australians. Same-sex marriage is no longer a revolutionary idea or even a novelty.
Yet, marriage had already changed and softened from what it once had been. Far from undermining marriage as a cherished social institution, same-sex marriage will tend to strengthen it. It stands as a barrier to revolutionary, perhaps irresponsible, change. Often, it even lives up to that ideal. The institution of marriage was subjected to fundamental criticism, and, to be frank, it was largely deserved. He was not far wrong. Still, the survey will go ahead whether I prefer it to or not. Among the wealthier classes, marriage also operated as a tool for economic ends such as estate planning. Once they shed their aversion to homosexuality itself - as they increasingly have - realistic conservatives can take comfort that marriage is something that so many gay men and lesbians actually want. Marriage continues to maintain social prestige, and it retains deep emotional significance for most citizens, including many gay men and lesbians. Admittedly, some conservatives will never accept same-sex marriage because they wish to impose a traditional Christian moral code on the wider community. Writing in the s, John Stuart Mill identified the marriage bond as a form of slavery for women. More generally, unreformed marriage was a blatantly patriarchal institution. This need not be an issue that divides small-l liberals like me and realistic conservatives. More and more conservatives have grasped that the continuing importance of marriage is in many ways a victory for their viewpoint, and that there are other issues around which they can continue to define themselves. To play its role, marriage operated as licence for sexual experience, which was otherwise forbidden by morality if not by law. Standards of chastity were, of course, applied far more harshly to women than to men. Same-sex marriage is no longer a revolutionary idea or even a novelty. I urge them - those who have not already done so - to embrace the idea as one they can live with and even take some comfort from. It will show marriage as still socially relevant, as adaptable to the needs and values of 21st-century Australians. Like Mill a century earlier, they had point. Same-sex marriage became increasingly more thinkable during the s and thereafter until the idea is not at all revolutionary. Marriage has become a kinder and far more flexible concept than it was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or even the s. It will ask us whether we support same-sex marriage. Liberalism acts as a needed social force pushing back against restrictions of individual liberty. It functioned as a form of social, and especially sexual, control.
Video about recent articles on same sex marriage:
Reactions to Supreme Court ruling in favor of same sex marriage;CBS, Reuters
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