Magazine article The Christian Century

Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage

Magazine article The Christian Century

Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage

Article excerpt

Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage

By Stephen Macedo

Princeton University Press, 320 pp., $29.95

An ardent supporter of marriage as a civil institution who is interested in fending off its radical liberal critics, Stephen Macedo traces the milestones on the road toward marriage equality for same-sex couples. He explores in depth the cultural shifts, legislative actions, and landmark court cases that paved the way for the remarkably speedy success of the marriage equality movement.

To be sure, there were setbacks--or, depending on your perspective, temporary victories for the opponents of same-sex marriage. But according to Macedo, the rise of same-sex marriage was inevitable in a just and democratic society. With the recent broad acceptance of homosexuality as an immutable characteristic and not an alternative lifestyle preference, as well as the mass exodus of gay people from the closet, many Americans went from being squeamish about gay marriage to being squeamish about telling their gay friends that their relationships are less than valid. As Macedo notes:

   Exclusion of gay and lesbian Americans
   from marriage is, like their exclusion
   from the military, invidious: a
   badge of inferiority and second-class
   status that perpetuates harmful
   stereotypes and stigma that are bound
   to be especially damaging to children
   and young adults.... Keeping gays
   from marrying accomplishes nothing
   for the greater good.

After establishing that there is no legitimate reason to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples who desire to marry, Macedo proceeds with his key task: debunking the slippery-slope arguments that predict that marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans is a gateway to the legalization of polygamy. Here it becomes clear that Macedo has laid out his careful justification of same-sex marriage in such a way that the same principles may be used to reject non-monogamous marriage. Again, justice and the common good are central.

Macedo leans heavily on evidence gathered by the Supreme Court of British Columbia as it upheld the criminality of polygamy. Polygamy, that court found, is harmful to women and children, as well as to less powerful males who cannot compete with wealthier men for wives. "Traditional polygamy is not merely contingently but inherently unequal," Macedo writes, and when inequality is the evil that one is intent on rooting out, this is a condemnation with great weight.

In addition to discussing research on polygamy, Macedo presents disturbing anecdotes highlighting the horrors of very young girls being raised to enter polygamous marriages with much older men. …

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