Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage: EndnotesKATHERINE YOUNG AND PAUL NATHANSON
Notice to Reader: "The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."
Endnotes: The original article is here.
- Katherine K. Young, affidavit for Halpern et al. v. Canada (A.G.)
et al. and MCCT v. Canada (A.G.) et al. , Ontario Superior Court
of Justice (Divisional Court), 12 July 2002, court files 684/00 and 39/2001; Hendricks
and LeBoeuf v. Canada (A.G.) , Quebec Superior Court, 18 September 2002;
and Egale v. Canada (A.G.) , British Columbia Supreme Court, 3 October
- Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, "Questioning Some
of the Claims for Gay Marriage," presentation to the House of Commons Standing
Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Ottawa, 20 February 2003.
orientation, moreover, is not entirely a "cultural construction" and
therefore subject to continual deconstruction and reconstruction. Heterosexuality
has a partially biological foundation in most people but nonetheless functions
effectively only when supported by religious or other cultural institutions. In
other words, important aspects of it must be taught within a larger cultural context.
But homosexuality, too, has a partially biological foundation. Gay people should
be harmed by cultural guidance provided for the majority. Therefore, we argue
that cultural institutions, including religious ones, should avoid negativity
toward the gay minority even as they support the straight majority. Many have
already taken steps to do so.
- Marriage cannot be defined adequately
except by contrasting it with mating. Like all other animal species that reproduce
sexually, humans mate. That is a biological function. Unlike other species, however,
humans are encouraged to mate within the cultural context of marriage. Our greatest
evolutionary advantage has been to rely on culture rather than instinct, which
has made possible adaptations to suit every ecological niche. Culture is imposed
on nature, in other words, to create order out of what would otherwise be chaos.
- David C. Geary and Mark V. Flinn, "Evolution of Human Parental
Behavior and the Human Family," Parenting: Science and Practice, 1:1-2
(January-June 2002): 5-61.
- This usage is supported by dictionaries
such as Webster, in which the word can refer to "an authoritative standard,"
a "model," or "a principle of right action binding upon the members of a group
and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behavior" ("Norm,"
[dated] 2003, Merriam Webster Dictionary, [visited] 3 May 2003, http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictioinary.)
The word has been used in this sense by lawyers. In Legal Traditions of the
World (Oxford University Press, 2000), H. Patrick Glenn argues that norms
are the basis of comparative law because they are found in all cultures. He examines
the ways in which norms are defined, given authority, and encouraged or enforced.
And he shows how "normativity" and religion are intertwined, especially in the
"webs of belief" in small-scale cultures (what he calls "chthonic" ones), world
religions (such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or Confucianism), and civil or common-law
systems (which have had close links with Christianity). The same word is used
in a very different ways, however, by social scientists and mathematicians. They
use it in a statistical sense, for example, which is defined by Webster as "a
set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or
median achievement of a large group" and so on.
- Suzanne G. Frayser,
Varieties of Sexual Experience: An Anthropological Perspective on Human Sexuality
(New Haven: HRAF Press, 1985). According to Frayser, "rules are part of the definition
of marriage in the sense that marriage is an intrinsically human social relationship.
Humans partially organize their lives in conformity with the rules they have created"
- Scholars in comparative religion study the worldviews
of both small-scale societies (such as those of North American Indians) and large-scale
societies (such as those of China and India). In the former, religion is fully
integrated into what we would consider the secular aspects of culture; everything
is religious¾not only beliefs about this or that deity but also about food production,
kinship, political structures, and so on. Religion is fully integrated in traditional
large-scale societies, too, but it is more specialized; everything has a religious
component, but distinctions are made among (religious) law, (religious) art, (religious)
economic structures, (religious) political institutions, and so on. As a result,
the study of comparative religion includes many topics that those outside the
field might not identify immediately as religious. For instance, religions are
very concerned with biological matters such as sex, reproduction, contraception,
birth, and childrearing. "Religions thus act as culturally phrased biological
messages. They arise from the survival strategies of past group members and continue
to advise at the present time. As such, a religion is a primary set of 'reproductive
rules,' a kind of 'parental investment handbook.'" (Vernon Reynolds and Ralph
Tanner, The Biology of Religion [London: Longman House, 1983] 294).
"Every culture of the world recognizes some form of the institution of marriage...."
(Edith Turner and Pamela R. Frese, "Marriage," in Encyclopedia of Religion,
ed. Mircea Eliade, vol. 9 [New York: Macmillan, 1987] 218).
Some people might call this "social engineering." And it is to the extent that
culture itself always involves the promotion of some possibilities over others.
But remember two things. First, those who would redefine marriage to promote the
interests of gay people could be charged with the very same thing. Second, neither
we nor our opponents are advocating either the kind of behavior modification associated
with B. F. Skinner.
- According to anthropologist Frayser, "the
definition [of marriage] should be broad enough to facilitate the identification
of a 'marriage' in each society, but not so broad that it does not sufficiently
differentiate marriage from other relationships.... [M]y own definition of marriage
derives from a review of the careful attempts to define it made by other social
scientists, e.g. Gough and Goodenough, as well as from my analysis of ethnographic
reports of marriage in a variety of societies. I have found that I can most consistently
and usefully identify marriage in cross-cultural contexts by using the following
definition. Marriage is a relationship within which a group socially approves
and encourages sexual intercourse and the birth of children.... When we are talking
about marriage, we are considering the dimensions of a relationship, regardless
of its consequences. In a marriage, people can be reproductive. In purely sexual
relationships, they should not be reproductive (Frayser 248).Our own definition
includes all this but also some implicit features.
- For Orthodox
Jews, men (though not women) are divinely commanded to marry. A primary motif
in Jewish theology is that of the "marriage" between God and Israel; this becomes
a primary liturgical motif during shabbat (the sabbath). Among Orthodox
Jews, moreover, only married men are allowed to wear the tallit (prayer
shawl). Something similar is true of Hinduism. According to one ancient source,
"a man, after securing a wife, regards himself as more complete" (Aitareya Aranyaka
I.2.4). Most Hindu men have had to marry, although a few exceptions have been
allowed. We could give dozens of other examples. Using culture in this way could
be construed as "privileging" heterosexuality and attacked as "politically incorrect."
On the other hand, it could be construed as common sense.
religions have recognized that maleness and femaleness lie at the heart of human
existence and that each has a cosmic dimension (an image of the deity, say, or
a fundamental aspect of creation). Jewish scripture says that men and women were
created in the divine image. God blessed them with the following commandment:
"Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:27-28). According
to a Confucian scholar of the Han period, "in all things there must be correlates....
The yin is the correlate of the yang, the wife of the husband...." (Tung Chung
shu; cited in Terry Woo, "Confucianism and Feminism," in Feminism and World
Religions, ed. Arvind Sharma and Katherine K. Young [Albany: State University
of New York Press, 1999] 122). Islamic scripture says that "God created the original
man and woman from whose union all others descended" (Qur'an 4:1 and 30:20-21).
For Christians, the distinction between male and female originated in God's creation.
Jesus said that "from the beginning of creation he made them male and female.
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and the two become one flesh. They
are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human
beings must not divide" (Mark 10: 5-6).
- All world religions
link marriage with progeny. The Islamic view, for instance, is that "[t]o bring
forth a child is a four-faceted intimacy which is the original reason for encouraging
it even after being safe-guarded against excessive desire, [because] no one wants
to meet God as a celibate. The first is to conform to the love of God by seeking
to produce the child in order to perpetuate mankind" (Madelain Farah, Marriage
and Sexuality in Islam: A Translation of al-Ghazali's Book on the Etiquette of
Marriage from the Ihya' (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1984) 11). According
to an ancient Indian source, "the wife is indeed half of oneself; therefore as
long as a man does not secure a wife so long he does not beget a son and so he
is till then not complete [or whole]" (Satapatha Brahmana V.2.1.10; cited in Pandurang
Vaman Kane, History of Dharmasastra: Ancient and Mediaeval Religious and Civil
Law, Vol. II. [Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1974] note
- Every society has used symbols and rituals to foster
the bonding between men and children. One reward for Jewish fathers, for instance,
is being able to participate in rituals with their sons. Examples include brit
milah (circumcision on a son's eighth day), pidyon ha-ben ("redeeming"
a first-born son, on his thirtieth day, by replacing the boy with a monetary donation
to the "temple"), and bar mitzvah (the first time a son is called to
read the Torah in synagogue). The great classical and medieval rabbis were aware
of the need to make sure that human fathers, unlike those of other species, know
who their children are. Sa'adiah Gaon, for instance, observed that "divine Wisdom
forbade fornication in order that men might not become like the beasts with the
result that no one would know his father so as to show him reverence in return
for having raised him" (cited in Gerald Blidstein, Honor Thy Father and Mother:
Filial Responsibility in Jewish Law and Ethics (New York: Ktav, 1975) 4).
One Hindu strategy to involve men in reproduction and family life was to link
men's identity directly to having a son in his own image. "A wife was called `jaya,'
because the husband was born in the wife as a son" (Aitareya Brahmana 33.1 cited
by Kane Vol. II, note 35, 429.) Indebted to the ancestors, Hindu men are obliged
to have a son who will perform their funeral rituals later in life. Confucianism
also linked male identity to sons: "[s]ons were so indispensable in carrying on
the family line and in maintaining the honors to ancestors that failure to have
them was regarded as a serious offense against filial piety. With sons the rites
to parents could not be continued, and not only would the living be disgraced,
but the spirits of the dead, deprived of such service, would be in misery" (Kenneth
Scott Latourette, The Chinese: Their History and Culture (New York: Macmillan,
- See Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, Spreading
Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (Albany: State
University of new York Press, 2001).
- For comparative studies
on sex and marriage, see the following: Clellan S. Ford and Frank A. Beach, Patterns
of Sexual Behavior (New York: Harper Colophon, 1972); Bron B. Ingoldsby
and Suzanna Smith, Families in Multicultural Perspective (New York: Guilford
Press, 1995); G. Robina Quale, A History of Marriage Systems (New York:
Greenwood Press, 1988); Ruth C. Busch, Family Systems: Comparative Study of
the Family (New York: Peter Lang, 1990); Robin Fox, Kinship and Marriage
in Anthropological Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967).
For studies on sex and marriage in specific cultures, see the following; Abdelwahab
Bouhdiba, Sexuality in Islam (London: Routledge, 1985); J. Schacht, "Nikah,"
and W. Heffening, "'Urs," in Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. P. J. Bearman
and others, both in vol. 10 (Leiden: Brill, 2000); Arlene Anderson Swidler, ed,
Marriage among the Religions of the World (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen
Press, 1990); Waldemar Molinski, "Marriage: Institution and Sacrament" and "Parents,"
in Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology, ed. Karl Rahner and
others., vol. 3 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969); Ben-Zion Schereschewsky,
"Marriage: Legal Aspects," in Encyclopedia Judaica, ed. Cecil Roth and
others, vol. 11 (New York: Macmillan, 1972); Raymond Apple, "Marriage: The Concept,"
in Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 11; Jeremy Cohen, "Be Fertile and Increase:
"Fill the Earth and Master It"; The Ancient and Medieval Career of a Biblical
Text (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989);
- Data for
this category are drawn from both large-scale and small-scale societies;
the latter are different in some ways from the former.
discussion is limited to historically Christian societies, which is often the
case in current debates over the nature of marriage, its distinctive aspects are
deceptive. Often hidden is the fact that Christian marriage shares many features
with Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, and other forms of marriage. Christian marriage,
like many other Christian institutions, did not emerge immediately. The early
community was an eschatological one, expecting the end of history and beginning
of the Kingdom at any moment. Once it became clear that the end and new beginning
would not occur in the immediate future, Christians had to start planning a new
social order to replace the existing one within history. And that meant establishing
rules for, among other things, marriage. Advocates of gay marriage like to play
on this variable within the history of Christianity as a way of deconstructing
any unity within the tradition. See, they argue expediently, Christian institutions
have changed in the past. Why not now?
- "The cross-cultural method
contests the hypothesis suggested by a single case and can check the validity
of common assumptions derived from the study of a few cases. The results can help
anthropologists to rethink their assumptions (Frayser 425-426, note 13). Frayser
bases her analysis on a sample of sixty-two societies from Africa, the Mediterranean
region, Eurasia, the Pacific islands, North America, and South America. These
represent eight types of economy and five types of lineage, or descent. For further
details on her method in connection with sample size, for instance, or control
for bias, see her Varieties of Sexual Expeience.
for instance, David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Must
Urgent Social Problem (New York: Basic Books, 1995) and David Popenoe, Life
without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable
for the Good of Children and Society (New York: Martin Kessler Books, 1996).
Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher write that the children of two-parent families
are better off in many ways than those of single parents (The Case for Marriage
[New York: Doubleday, 2000]). There is evidence that the children of biological
parents, moreover, are generally even better off than those of social parents.
Browning notes that "[b]y the mid-1990s, reports by demographers ... showed that
children in the U.S. not living with both biological parents were on average two
to three times more likely to have difficulties in school, in finding employment,
and in successfully forming families themselves. Income lessens these consequences,
but only by 50 percent" (Browning 17-18). For the importance of biological parents,
including fathers, see Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing up with a
Single Parent (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994). Their work suggests
that the formation of identity, not only economics and family stability, is a
key factor in socialization.
This brings up something that has not yet been
explored adequately by social scientists, something that is associated specifically
with fathers (or mothers). At some level, identity always involves bodies.
Being male (or female), in other words, parental bodies are important rather than
peripheral in the development of children. We say this for two reasons. First,
the formation of personal identity involves learning how to deal with the different
physiological experiences of boys and girls. Second, the formation of healthy
heterosexuality involves not only the transmission of culture from one generation
to another but also the experiential lessons learned by watching parental bonding
in spite of sexual differences.
- According to Don Browning, "
[T]he most interesting base reality of these trends is the increasing distance,
if not separation, of fathers from their children. Divorce, non-marital birth,
and teen pregnancies not only correlate with and accentuate poverty, they correlate
with a weaker if not completely absent relation with fathers. This means a loss
of the financial contributions of the father. It also means a loss of other unique
qualities such as conscience formation, the loss of mediation to offspring of
the father's 'social capital' (the resources of his extended family, his friends,
his other social contacts), a decline of trust in the reliability of the world,
and even a loss of faith in the dependability of the mother herself" (Marriage
and Modernization: How Globalization Threatens Marriage and What to Do about It
[Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003]: 18; his emphasis).
- To reproduce
itself, a population must have a total fertility rate of 2.1. No developed Western
country except the United States is currently reproducing itself; these countries
have both declining birth rates and declining death rates. The Canadian rate is
1.7; the American rate is 2.1, but that is due mainly to massive immigration and
not to the general pattern of educated couples having fewer children ("Total Fertility
Rates by Country North America," [dated] 4 May 2003, Overpopulation.com
[visited] 4 May 2003, http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/Basic_Information/total_fertility_rate/north_america.html).
The rate for developed countries in general is 1.6 down from 1.9 in 1990
("Total Fertility Rates," [dated] 4 May 2003, Overpopulation.com) http://www.overpopulation.com/faq/basic_information/total_fertility_rate/).
- The most obvious example of this would be Quebec, which is one
reason Premier Bernard Landry has offered extra financial benefits to those who
have children (thus infuriating feminists, who believe for some reason that this
- For a brilliant expose of this underlying premise
of what we call "ideological feminism," see Daphne Patai, Heterophobia: Sexual
Harassment and the Future of Feminism (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield,
1998). We discuss her theory in "Legalizing Misandry: A Quiet Revolution Based
on Contempt for Men" (forthcoming from McGill-Queen's University Press). Among
those who exemplify this mentality is Catharine A. MacKinnon, the chief architect
in both the United States and Canada of changes to the laws governing pornography
and sexual harassment. According to MacKinnon and her pal Andrea Dworkin, all
sexual relations between men and women, including those initiated by
and enjoyed by women, amount to rape. Why? Because, MacKinnon points out, women
in patriarchal societies are incapable of giving their assent to sexual
relations with men.
- William N. Eskridge, The Case for Same-Sex
Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment (New York: Free Press,
1996); see also his affidavit for Halpern et al. v. Canada (A.G.) et al.
sworn on 14 November 2000, court file 684/00. For the opposing argument, see our
affidavit for the same case along with Peter Lubin and Dwight Duncan, "Follow
the Footnote; or, The Advocate as Historian of Same-Sex Marriage," Catholic
University Law Review 47 (1998): 1271-1325.
- We do not advocate
polygamy. Who knows what would happen, after all, if elite people take more than
their "fair share" of potential spouses? But if we reject the argument that there
is something inherently wrong with gay marriage, why accept the same argument
against polygamy? It would be hard to argue that there is anything inherently
wrong with polygamy, even though it is more complex than monogamy. Remember that
polygamy refers to many marriages, not many wives. Both polygyny (many
wives) and polyandry (many husbands) would clearly support inequality and thus
be unacceptable in Canada; polygamy, however, would offer the same opportunity
to both husbands and wives. Given the required regulations, moreover¾and every
institution must be regulated¾we have no reason to assume that many people would
be able to afford more than one spouse in any case. But the point here is not
about popularity or even social desirability; it is about moral and legal
consistency. If members of the gay minority should be allowed to marry,
regardless of potential harm to society, why not members of this other
- Halpern et al. v. Canada (A.G.) et al.,
Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court), 12 July 2002, Blair, paragraph
- It is true that some Jews have become "self-haters." The
most disturbing examples come from Germany in the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. (See Amos Elon, The Pity of It All: A History of Jews in Germany,
1743-1933 [New York: Metropolitan Books, 2002]). It is worth noting that these
Jews were almost invariably the most assimilated ones, however, not the most marginalized
or isolated ones. The latter, with access to the richness of Jewish tradition
and the solidarity of strong Jewish communities, seldom internalized anti-Semitic
- Canada, unlike the United States, is very secular.
Not quite as secular as the countries of western Europe, but secular enough to
prevent or ridicule any reference to religion in the public square.
In Hall v. Powers (2002), the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the Durham
Catholic School Board could not forbid Marc Hall to attend the prom with his gay
partner, even though church authorities argued that this would contradict religious
doctrine on sexuality and even though it was a denominational school with special
protection under the Constitution Act 1867. The judge ignored the church's own
definition of authority, pointing out that Roman Catholics were divided on this
matter, and that the criterion for judgment should be a "fully informed ordinary
citizen" (who could be secular and even unsympathetic to the Church). If a constitutionally
protected church cannot uphold its teachings on sexuality (including its guidance
of adolescent sexuality), then so much the worse for the Jews, Muslims, Sikhs,
and so on. In Chamberlain v. Surrey School District No. 36 (2002) SCC
86, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that a school board in British Columbia would
have to approve for supplementary reading three books that featured gay parents.
It argued that no single conception of morality should be allowed to deny or exclude
opposed points of view. The majority opinion rejected the idea that parents have
a "privileged" role" in forming their children's values, one that can be expressed
through school-board participation, because that would contravene the broad principles
of tolerance and non-sectarianism.
- According to one online source,
the Canadian divorce rate was 45% in 1996; the American rate that year was 49%
("World Divorce Statistics," [undated], Divorce Magazine, [visited] 3
May 2003, http://www.divorcemag.com/statistics/statsWorld.shtml).
- "Males Could Create 'Designer Eggs,'" Montreal Gazette,
2 May 2003: A-17.
- In the United States, things are different.
Access to medical plans, for instance, is not given automatically to all citizens
as individuals. Some gay people could get on the plans of their spouses, if they
- We refer not to nationalism, which is about society
as a whole, but to what could be called "group nationalism" but is usually called
"identity politics." Underlying the demand for individual rights, after all, is
a qualification that usually remains hidden by political or ideological rhetoric:
this is about rights for the individuals of specific groups. The debate
over gay marriage, for instance, is ultimately about gay rights, not individual
- Closely related to that scenario is a more extreme (but
by no means impossible) one: anomie. Anomie refers literally to the absence of
law. In a larger sense, it refers to the absence of social cohesion and sense
of collective purpose. It could be argued - and we do¾that our society is becoming
more and more fragmented along sexual (though also racial, ethnic, religious,
and ideological) lines. The signs of social decay, at least the early warnings,
are everywhere in Western countries. Consider only the high rates of divorce,
the millions of abandoned wives and fatherless children, and the prevalence of
addictions. Not one of these problems, alone, would destroy a society.
Nor would the immediate results of legalizing gay marriage. But so many problems,
most of them closely linked, should give us pause. So far, every society has disintegrated
for one reason or another. Some are overtaken by more vigorous ones (almost always
more brutal). Others collapse due to internal paralysis (usually marked by, among
other things, the dissolution of family life). Still others mutate under pressure
(which is what transformed ancient Roman society into medieval Christian society
and then the latter into modern society). We have no reason to assume, in any
case, that our society will endure forever.
- Not because all
gay people are hedonistic but because the most visible gay people are those most
closely associated with the bar scene, the drugs, and so on.
The demand for surrogate mothers by gay men is already a fact in both Canada and
the United States. Even before any decision had been made on the legalization
of gay marriage in Canada, for instance, a massive spread in Canada's major daily
newspaper featured this very phenomenon. "Men, who years ago ruled out children,
in the brave moments when they came out to family and friends, are plunging into
parenthood as never before in a sweeping social movement some have dubbed the
'gayby boom.'" (Margaret Philp, "Gayby Boom," Globe and Mail, 3 May 2003:
- This problem, too, has already surfaced. Feminists, notably
members of the Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and
Genetic Engineering, have long argued that surrogacy is inherently demeaning to
women, turning female bodies into "wombs for hire," and also that it presents
insuperable psychological problems due to an innate desire of women to keep the
children they gestate (and thus break their contracts with the social mothers).
These feminists have agitated for an outright ban on surrogacy (although they
have identified no ideological problem with artificial insemination, which allows
single women to have children of their own). "While more gay men are
exploring the brave new world of reproductive technologies," writes Margaret Philp,
"it is a route to parenthood that could abruptly close under a proposed new federal
law being debated in the House of Commons. Bill C-13, An Act Respecting Assisted
Human Reproduction, would license fertility clinics, but also outlaw financial
compensation to sperm and egg donors and to surrogates, aside from expenses. 'My
belief is that surrogacy will be forced underground,' Ms. [Sherry] Levitan grumbles.
'People who can afford to will go to California." ("Gaybe Boom" F-5).
For the suicide rates of men and women, see 2001 Annual Report (Ottawa:
Statistics Canada, 2002) 46; see also Elizabeth Thompson, "Quebec Leads Provinces
in Suicides: Rate among Our Men Is More Than Triple That of Quebec's Women, Study
Finds," Montreal Gazette, 18 September 2002: A-14. For the school dropout
rates of men and women, see "Labour Force Statistics" [undated], B.C. Stats [visited]
3 October 2002, http://
- For more on this, see Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of
Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University
Press, 2001), the first volume of our trilogy on men; we are now at work on the
second volume, Legalizing Misandry: A Quiet Revolution Based on Contempt for
- Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture
(New York: Knopf; Random House, 1997). Some social and political experiments,
of course, are successful. Representative democracy is surely the most obvious
example. There were those who warned that the American experiment would never
work, for instance, or felt vindicated when the Civil War seemed to be ending
it. Though flawed, nonetheless, American democracy has endured. So it will not
do for us to make glib pronouncements about this new experiment. But the analogy
is somewhat superficial. Even though representative democracy was a novum in the
eighteenth century, democracy itself was not. It had been tried, albeit on a limited
basis, in ancient Greece. Many small-scale societies, moreover, have tried informal
versions of it. But gay marriage and its implications for both family and society,
as we have observed, really would be unprecedented. In theory, it could work.
In theory, after all, almost anything could work.
Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson. "Marriage-a-la-mode: Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage." Paper presented at Emory University, Atlanta, GA (May 14, 2003).
This article reprinted with permission from the authors. This paper will be published shortly by Emory University.
Katherine K. Young is professor of the history of religions in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University where she teaches in the areas of comparative religion, gender, ethics, and Hinduism.
Paul Nathanson, a researcher in the same faculty, is a freelance editor and author of Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America.
The authors have jointly written Spreading Misandry The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture. Katherine Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Paul Nathanson can be reached at Wordwatcher@vif.com.
Copyright © 2003 Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson