The case for same-sex marriage has been politically triumphant, and its victory looks inevitable. It nonetheless is curiously incomplete. It has succeeded, not because the most sophisticated opposing arguments have been considered and rejected, but because those arguments have not even been understood. Those arguments rest on complex claims, either about what sustains the stability of heterosexual marriages or about what those marriages essentially are. The most familiar claim, that recognition of same-sex marriage jeopardizes the heterosexual family, demands an account of the transformation of family norms in the past half century. Major social change should not be undertaken without a full awareness of what is at stake.
This essay remedies a major gap in the literature. It critically surveys and evaluates the arguments against same-sex marriage. You may not be persuaded by them. In fact, you shouldn’t be persuaded by them. But you need to know what they are.