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Debating Same-Sex Marriage

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2012

    Disagreement Achieved

    In a point/counterpoint format, Corvino and Gallagher make the case for two competing views of marriage. Corvino, going first, follows people like Jonathan Rauch and defends the "conservative" case for same-sex marriage. Since marriage "promotes mutual lifelong caregiving in a way that no other institution does," (p.20) same-sex couples ought to be allowed to marry. To be sure, child welfare is an important aspect of marriage, but Corvino thinks that marriage is much more than this, hence why we recognize marriages between the infertile and elderly. Corvino is a sharp scholar who has done his homework: his opening essay engages with the arguments made elsewhere by Gallagher, along with other influential figures in the marriage debate such as Robert George and David Blankenhorn.

    Gallagher's chapter contains an impressive array of sociological, anthropological, and legal evidence. Indeed, her argument contained 172 footnotes compared to Corvino's 114. She argues that marriage is a natural institution grounded in real gender differences between men and women that is recognized -- and not created -- by the law. The sterile and elderly meet this requirement, as they are instances of a type of union in which can create new life, even if they cannot fully recognize the goods of marriage.

    Gallagher argues the the fundamental reason why same-sex marriage is unjust is because it is a lie about human nature. Since same-sex marriages are based on a mistaken view of human nature, their enshrinement into law will change traditional marital norms such as permanence and fidelity. Marriage is first and foremost about child welfare, for all children deserve a mother and a father. This important public purpose is why the state is involved in marriage to begin with. "Marital unions are necessary in a way that other unions (however morally good or individually beneficial) are not." (p.98) Friendships, for example, are inherently good, but obviously not deserving of legal recognition.

    After making the case for their respective positions, Corvino and Gallagher launch into rebuttals of the opposing positions. I won't go too much into them, except to say that both sides seriously and respectfully engaged with each other's arguments, a rare sight in the same-sex marriage debate these days. Personally, I thought Gallagher had the overall upper hand, although I would have liked to see more in her rebuttal to Corvino.

    All in all, this is a great book. Anyone interested in understanding the substance behind the same-sex marriage debate should read this.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2012

    Loved the book ! It was well written and presented both sides o

    Loved the book ! It was well written and presented both sides of the issues very well. It is so relevant to the issues today and helped me engage intelligently in conversations on the topic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2013

    I found this novel truly helpful to gaining a comprehensive unde

    I found this novel truly helpful to gaining a comprehensive understanding of the same-sex marriage argument. Funnily enough, I only found my own views solidified. Gallagher did a somewhat poor job of arguing against Corvino and, instead of addressing the major points he raised, she focused on minor things he said, such as herself being bigoted. Now, had she actually had a well-written, logical argument, maybe I could have more easily understood those who oppose same-sex marriage and adoption. However, now I feel like they're all bigots. While I am sure this isn't true, Gallagher should absolutely not have been the person representing those who disagree with same-sex marriage - she failed at her points quite terribly. One last thing to add, Corvino addressed the idea that Gallagher's organization, the National Organization for Marriage, only bashes same-sex couples. Gallagher couldn't refute it so she mentioned it in her counterargument, then oh-so-not-smoothly nitpicked through every single word he said not relating to that. If you have something against gay people, she ought to stop hiding like a child behind a lousy, argument that makes no sense and just say what she really means.

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