If you have total gay freedom and no gay institutions that can channel love and desire into commitment and support, you end up in San Francisco in the 1970s. That way of life - however benignly expressed, however defensible as the pent-up unleashed liberation of a finally free people - helped kill 300,000 young human beings in this country in our lifetime.Actually, Andrew, the absence of gay marriage in this country did not cause the AIDS crisis. Nor did "total gay freedom." It was caused by a virus, as you well know. And its effects were magnified thanks to the fine public health efforts of a Republican government you strongly supported. Well, that and Sullivan's own "consummate hypocrisy," as Richard Kim once put it. As Kim pointed out back then, Sullivan is despicable not so much for the obvious hypocrisy--read Kim's piece for the overview of Sullivan's own sex life--but because his politics are devoted to keeping power in the hands of the already-powerful. Just because he favors allowing the powerful to be gay doesn't alter the fundamental equation he promotes.
Civil marriage is nothing more than a series of benefits, mostly financial, that the government affords certain citizens. Should those benefits not be given to those who live in non-traditional family arrangements that still won't be covered by "gay marriage"? To those who simply choose to be single? To those who don't choose to be single, but are nevertheless? What exactly is the reasoning behind these policies? My ideal government would not expand the financial benefits of marriage to a slightly larger group of people, it would do away with them all together. If we want to provide financial assistance for child rearing, shouldn't that assistance be more directly linked to the having of children? I'm a pragmatist so I'm strongly in favor of legalizing gay marriage today, but I'm not going to pretend that it's going to solve many social ills, and in the hands of Andrew Sullivan I worry that it will actually create more.
Now, you might ask yourself, aren't you married yourself, Professor Gentry? Why yes, I am. I think there is a lot of good to be found in the ritualized union of individuals.* I think well enough of that concept to even consider it something of a sacrament, went so far as to have celebrated my own in a church. And that's exactly why I think the state has no place inregulating consensual relationships at all; render under Ceaser and all that.
And it's before my time, but I hear that San Francisco in the 1970s could be a pretty wonderful place.