Magazine July 30, 2012, Issue

The Marriage Mess

A same-sex-marriage ceremony in San Francisco in 1998 (Reuters)
Debating Same-Sex Marriage, by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher (Oxford, 296 pp., $16.95)

The debate over whether to recognize same-sex relationships as marriages is among the most sensitive, difficult, and important in American public life. Sensitive, because it addresses real people’s happiness, and provokes strong emotions. Difficult, because it occurs between reasonable people of good will with different visions of the common good, in a culture already long confused about marriage and sexuality. Important, because the family is society’s foundation.

John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher know this, which is why their arguments on marriage are so measured, reasonable, and persuasive — despite their own profound disagreement. Corvino, a philosophy professor at Wayne State University,

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