Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Andrew Sullivan answers Ross Douthat

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat argued Monday (in a piece reprinted on our Viewpoint page today) that the ideal of lifelong heterosexual marriage "is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit."

Douthat doesn't explicitly say that that acknowledgment means denying gays the right to marry, but that conclusion seems implicit when one reads his column.

At least Andrew Sullivan thinks so. Writer, blogger and editor ("Same Sex Marriage: Pro and Con, a Reader"), Sullivan replied to Douthat's column on his blog later Monday afternoon. After describing Douthat's column as "Ross at his most Catholic", Sullivan goes on to say:

"Ross' core argument is that "lifelong heterosexual monogamy at its best can offer something distinctive and remarkable — a microcosm of civilization, and an organic connection between human generations — that makes it worthy of distinctive recognition and support." I'm going to repeat what I have said before: I don't disagree with this at all. I remain in awe of the heterosexual life-long coupling that produces new human life. There is a miraculous, sacred, awe-inspiring aspect to it. I understand why this is a Sacrament, and have no interest in being included in such a Sacrament since it is premised on the very Thomist arguments Ross puts forward. . . .

"This is why the Catholic church upholds this as an ideal. And it does so with great wisdom. But, as Ross concedes, the question is whether this ideal should rest on its own laurels or needs to be elevated by law and doctrine to the highest level of human relationship, and also, in order to achieve this ideal, actively exclude others - both in the religious and the secular sphere? . . .

"To exclude gays and gays alone is therefore not the upholding of an ideal (Britney Spears and Larry King are fine - but a lesbian couple who have lived together for decades are verboten) so much as making a lone exception to inclusion on the grounds of sexual orientation. It is in effect to assert not the ideal of Catholic Matrimony, but the ideal of heterosexual superiority. It creates one class of people, regardless of their actions, and renders them superior to another. "

Sullivan's entire argument can be found here, along with photos from his own gay wedding.