Today Encounter Books publishes the e-book version of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, co-authored by my friends Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George (the print edition will arrive soon in December). You can find thoughtful reviews of it by Tom Gilson at First Things, and by R.J. Snell at Public Discourse. There is a reason the law review article that grew into this book broke download records at the Social Science Research Network, where scholars post advance copies of journal articles. That is that Girgis, Anderson, and George went to the core of the philosophical, moral, political, and legal debate over same-sex marriage, by asking the simple and disarming question, “what is marriage?” And then they answered it, with cogent arguments that the word–and the institution it names–lose all their meaning if we no longer say that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. So far no one has come up with a convincing rebuttal of their arguments.
As Snell says in his review today, their book is a judicious blend of reason and compassion–qualities of mind and heart that are friends, not enemies, as should be all the participants in this debate. This is the book that should be in the hands of all the Supreme Court justices, given the work they have ahead of them, in the near or long term.