cover image Debating Same-Sex Marriage

Debating Same-Sex Marriage

John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher. Oxford Univ., $16.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-0-19-975631-5

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 "%E2%80%98achieve disagreement'%E2%80%94that 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)