Summer 2016

Public Reason and the Anthropology of Orientation: How the Debate Over “Gay Marriage” Has Been Shape

David S. Crawford

INTRODUCTION

With the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision,1 arguments in opposition to the civil recognition of “same-sex marriage” have lost the legal debate in America. They also seem to be losing or to have lost the political debate both in America and other liberal societies.

The problem is not that there are no arguments. It is that judges, legislators, journalists, and regular citizens have increasingly found those arguments not only weak but in fact incoherent from the standpoint of public reason. That the arguments are incoherent then leads to the further conclusion that they must be based on bigotry and hateful intolerance. This development naturally puts defenders of the traditional idea of marriage on the defensive. It is especially unsettling for Catholics, who feel they have a long tradition of reasoned public discourse based on natural law principles. Typically, they respond with increasing frustration, often by means of a simple repetition of the usual arguments, but with greater stridency.

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1. Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. __ (2015) (hereafter cited as Obergefell).