‘What Does This Mean for the Gay Marriage Debate?’

Everyone is asking me: What does DADT repeal mean for the gay-marriage debate? I will tell you: I don’t know.

I’ve always believed that marriage is a distinctive issue, that it cannot simply be folded into “gay issues” generally, that it’s quite possible to be pro–gay rights generally and still to support marriage as the union of husband and wife.

However, the inability of those who opposed DADT repeal to kill this bill in the lame duck, even in light of the strong opposition to repeal from troops in the field, is an example of the growing mismatch in culture power — the power to name reality, the power to determine which stories get told and whose feelings count.

When the 58 percent of Marines putting their lives on the line for this country who say “this is going to make our life harder” have so little weight in public debate — compared with, say, the understandably opposing feelings of Lt. Dan Choi and other gay soldiers — it’s certainly culturally significant.

Back to marriage: Same-sex and opposite-sex couples clearly are not similarly situated with respect to marriage. Will we find enough people willing to stand on the commonsense proposition that marriage is the union of husband and wife, because these unions really are unique — and uniquely related to the common good?

I think so. I can’t really believe we are going to end up like Europe. But then I’m an optimist.

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