Debating Same-Sex Marriage

Debating Same-Sex Marriage

4.0 4
by John Corvino, Maggie Gallagher

View All Available Formats & Editions

Polls and election results show Americans sharply divided on same-sex marriage, and the controversy is unlikely to subside anytime soon. Debating Same-Sex Marriage provides an indispensable roadmap to the ongoing debate. Taking a "point/counterpoint" approach, John Corvino (a philosopher and prominent gay advocate) and Maggie Gallagher (a nationally

See more details below


Polls and election results show Americans sharply divided on same-sex marriage, and the controversy is unlikely to subside anytime soon. Debating Same-Sex Marriage provides an indispensable roadmap to the ongoing debate. Taking a "point/counterpoint" approach, John Corvino (a philosopher and prominent gay advocate) and Maggie Gallagher (a nationally syndicated columnist and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage) explore fundamental questions: What is marriage for? Is sexual difference essential to it? Why does the government sanction it? What are the implications of same-sex marriage for children's welfare, for religious freedom, and for our understanding of marriage itself? While the authors disagree on many points, they share the following conviction: Because marriage is a vital public institution, this issue deserves a comprehensive, rigorous, thoughtful debate.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Debating Same-Sex Marriage is an important book that lays bare the philosophical arguments for and against the legalization of same-sex marriage."
--Andre Archie, The American Conservative

"Why do the advocates of same-sex marriage want what they want? And why do defenders of traditional marriage, as uniting men with women to form families, resist such a change? One cannot do better for achieving clarity on such questions than by reading Debating Same-Sex Marriage, co-authored by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher. Corvino, who teaches philosophy at Wayne State University in Michigan, and Gallagher, a co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, have achieved something of real value in this book, confronting one another with (in general) an admirable degree of civility. Given the space to build arguments for their own views, and to respond to each other at length, Corvino and Gallagher provide what are probably the best and the most complete arguments on either side of this momentous debate." --Matthew J. Franck, Public Discourse

"The debate over whether to recognize same-sex relationships as marriages is among the most sensitive, difficult, and important in American public life. . . . John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher know this, which is why their arguments on marriage are so measured, reasonable, and persuasive -- despite their own profound disagreement. . . . The total effect is to give readers a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments, without the usual spike in blood pressure."--Ryan T. Anderson, National Review

"This is a valuable addition to the debate." --Publishers Weekly

"Philosopher John Corvino and National Organization for Marriage co-founder Maggie Gallagher spar spiritedly but respectfully on such topics as the purpose of marriage, the rationale for state recognition, the interests of children, and the consequences for religious freedom." --Matt Reynolds, Christianity Today

"Readers have two good advocates to examine what's at stake and how it might be spun. How will it turn out? Trusting in God, but using the last words in the book: 'We shall see.'" --National Catholic Register

"Debating Same-Sex Marriage's format is quite interesting -- and massively effective...It's like witnessing a live debate between these two lively characters...I highly recommend this to all -- if only for a manual on how to respectfully debate a member of the opposing viewpoint. Well done!" --Elizabeth Raymond, San Francisco Book Review

"With debate intensifying over same-sex marriage, this valuable exchange of views could not be more timely. Maggie Gallagher and John Corvino set forth their opposing positions clearly, eloquently, and with admirable lack of rancor."--Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

"Maggie Gallagher is a hero to many of us who care about life, marriage and religious liberty. She is lucid, honest, compassionate, fearless and above all relentlessly reasonable in making the case for marriage as the union of husband and wife. Read this book to learn more about marriage, and about the views of millions of Americans who understand this is one fight we cannot duck."--Senator Rick Santorum

"John Corvino does a masterful job laying out the positive moral good in allowing same-sex couples to marry and exposing the weaknesses in arguments against such equality. With a mix of sharp philosophical analysis and wry humorous stories, Corvino makes clear why marriage need not be exclusively heterosexual in order to be good for couples, families and society. His remarkable collaboration with Maggie Gallagher to 'achieve disagreement' -- to uncover where they differ and why on allowing same-sex couples to marry -- helps move the conversation forward for all of us."--Chai Feldblum, Georgetown Law professor and founder of

"Maggie Gallagher is one of the most eloquent and influential voices for marriage in America today. Her arguments are carefully reasoned and often deeply moving. They have influenced politicians, judges, religious leaders, scholars, and a vast number of ordinary citizens who, at this time of uncertainty about the meaning and importance of marriage, are trying to decide what to think. Although her public witness for marriage has sometimes subjected her to venomous abuse, she does not respond in kind. Rather, she is exemplary in her willingness to engage those who see the marriage question differently with civility and grace."--Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

"John Corvino deserves a Gay Medal of Honor for the heroic work he has done in this book. John manages to keep his cool and offer thoughtful, engaging responses in the face of bad and sometimes infuriatingly insulting arguments. John is like your favorite college professor: he offers insight so cheerfully -- and at times so humorously -- that you can almost forget that he's tearing your term paper apart. In this case, the student is Maggie Gallagher and the 'term paper' is her flimsy, if passionately felt, rationale for denying gay and lesbian Americans their full civil equality. John makes an elegant, forceful, civil, and inspired case for equal rights under the law. Everyone interested in the debate over marriage equality -- particularly anyone who wishes to be armed with solid pro-marriage-equality arguments -- should buy and read this book."--Dan Savage, author of The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family, and founder of the It Gets Better Project

"Maggie Gallagher has been one of the staunchest advocates for traditional marriage in our lifetime, and she has now added what may well be the most cogent defense of that venerable institution yet written. Combining her philosophical training with real world experience, Gallagher articulates quite powerfully the societal risk of transforming marriage from an institution rooted in the biological nature of men and women and designed to foster the procreation and rearing of children, to one that is simply about adult relationships. A must read for everyone grappling with the policy debate currently underway, but particularly for those judges who think the policy decision is theirs alone to make."--Dr. John C. Eastman, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service and former Dean, Chapman University School

"The best part of this valuable point-counterpoint is John Corvino's patient, clear, and logical dismantling of every argument and insinuation made by the leading opponents of letting loving and committed gay couples and their families share in something we all agree is good. Corvino convincingly shows that the couples, children, kin, and communities deserve the simple Golden Rule of fairness and the civic respect that are part of America's promise of the pursuit of happiness, liberty, and justice for all, and that ending their exclusion from marriage would harm no one. No wonder a majority of Americans -- including, notwithstanding Maggie Gallagher's arguments, 63% of American Catholics -- have opened their hearts and changed their minds to support the freedom to marry."--Evan Wolfson, President of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters

"Corvino grounds his argument in solid data, pointing out weaknesses in his opponent's correlative (rather than casual) data and circular logic.... This is a valuable addition to the debate."--Publishers Weekly

"Though I have been critical of the arguments presented by Gallagher in this book, I actually think that the book in general is actually an excellent one. It lays out the arguments on both sides of this issue clearly and concisely. Hence, Debating Same-Sex Marriage is an outstanding book not only for the general reader who wants to know more about this debate; it would also be perfect for a university course examining this issue."--Robert Scott Stewart, Metapsychology Online Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wayne State University philosopher and gay rights advocate Corvino and conservative columnist Gallagher, cofounder of the National Organization for Marriage, engage in a same-sex marriage point/counterpoint. The book's stated goal is not to attempt a win but to "‘achieve disagreement'—that is, to uncover how they differ and why." But achieving this modest goal turns out to be remarkably difficult, the authors' concerted efforts revealing that the conversation has only become more complex. The book's structure resembles courtroom closing remarks, with each side making its case separately (followed by rebuttals). Corvino goes first, arguing in part that marriage's definition must be acknowledged to include more than simply procreation or the potential for a couple to have children. He agrees with many of his opponents that "a key part of the rationale for marriage is to support that kind of steady, enduring love even as romantic bliss waxes and wanes." If marriage is about reinforcing essential social contracts, then extending this privilege to same-sex couples will only increase the potential for social good. Corvino grounds his argument in solid data, pointing out weaknesses in his opponent's correlative (rather than causal) data and circular logic. Gallagher's disappointing response relies on stock answers that feel static given the arguable points Corvino offers as criticism. However, this is a valuable addition to the debate. (June)

Read More

Product Details

Oxford University Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >