In the larger debate over gay marriage, progressives have typically resisted the conservative argument that gay marriage “redefines” marriage. That is why they dismiss natural law arguments about the meaning and nature of marriage. They regard such arguments as irrelevant to the question.
But Brian Epstein argues in The New York Times that progressives need to get over that and admit what they are really doing. I quote at length:
The common progressive reaction is simple: reject the phrase “redefining marriage.” It is biased, according to this reaction, to take marriage to be defined as traditional marriage. If the Supreme Court sanctions same-sex marriage, it will be expanding the class of people to whom an existing institution applies. When women received the right to vote, that did not redefine “voting”: it was just expanding the same institution to include more people. When a state raises the drinking age, that does not redefine “drinking.” Similarly for marriage.
But it’s all a setup. In this debate, the progressives lose, because their reaction is a mistake. Marriage is not like voting or drinking. In some circles, it plays better to tell ourselves that we are doing nothing more than taking an existing institution and making it more fair. Deep down, though, we know that this is not accurate. The old institution of marriage does not treat people equally and with respect. That is why we as a society are replacing it with a new and more equal institution. This is a good thing, whatever Moore says. Progressives should be honest about this fact, and embrace it.
Take note what Epstein just said here. It is not merely a redefinition of marriage. It’s a replacement of marriage with a whole new thing. This is not mere social change. It’s social revolution that will have consequences far beyond what most people imagine now. I wonder if or when anyone will notice.
In the meantime, at least one progressive is being honest. They mean to get rid of marriage as we have known it and replace it with something altogether different.