Atlantic Unbound | April 23, 2004
A Modest (Marriage) Proposal
Jonathan Rauch talks about his quest to establish a middle ground in the
s anyone who has tried to discuss the issue in politically mixed company
knows, reactions to the idea of gay marriage tend to be emotional and
polarised. "Love Makes a Family" has little overlap with "God Didn't
Make Adam and Steve." In the no-man's-land between the front lines of
this impending culture war, Jonathan Rauch—Atlantic
correspondent, social commentator, and marriage enthusiast—has staked
out a compromise position. His recent book, Gay Marriage,
proposes that by ignoring traditional arguments and thinking instead
about the consequences of gay marriage for society as a whole, most
Americans will find themselves able to agree that gay marriage is what
he calls a win-win-win.
The winning parties in this scenario are gays, straights, and America as
a whole. Taking as a starting point an affection for and belief in the
institution of marriage as both an indispensable personal support system
and a stabilizing social force, Rauch argues that it should be a matter
of general concern that marriage is suddenly in competition with
alternatives that fail to fulfil its uniquely positive functions. He
suggests that as gay couples, excluded from marriage, create their own
increasingly visible and successful arrangements, marriage will begin to
seem less attractive to everyone, leading people to seek out the
benefits of marriage without accepting the socially essential
responsibilities that go along with it. These unions will be less
supportive for the people in them and also more likely to fall apart,
leaving society responsible for individuals no longer taking care of
each other. Rauch also predicts that as homosexuality becomes more
accepted, an exclusive version of marriage will be further weakened
because it will seem incompatible with the values of fairness and
As a determined pragmatist and a believer in tradition, Rauch doesn't
fit the usual profile of a gay-marriage advocate. But he seeks to use
this to his argument's advantage, suggesting a way to reconcile the
equal-rights and libertarian supporters of gay marriage with its
religious and traditionalist opponents. At a time when recent and
impending same-sex marriages in San Francisco, Massachusetts, and
elsewhere are forcing the issue into the national consciousness, and
when the two sides have argued themselves down to irreconcilable
principles, this new approach may prove to have considerable appeal and
influence around the water cooler. And the water cooler, the office
holiday party, the neighbourhood, and the local and state political
institutions these social institutions feed into are where Rauch
suggests that the question of gay marriage will and should be decided.
Jonathan Rauch is an Atlantic correspondent, a senior writer and
columnist for National Journal, and a writer in residence at the
Brookings Institution. Before Gay Marriage, his most recent book
Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working (1999). He
is vice president of the Independent Gay Forum and lives outside
Washington, D.C. An
excerpt from Gay Marriage ran in the April Atlantic.
We spoke by telephone on Friday, April 9, 2004.
When and how did you decide to write this book?
I've been thinking and writing about gay marriage since 1995, and
have been thinking and writing about American families since the late
eighties. Back then I was writing about economics, and it became pretty
clear as I researched that a lot of what we think of as problems of
poverty and crime, for example, are really offshoots of the collapse of
the family. With fatherlessness and single parenthood increasing, there
were whole portions of America where marriage was becoming rare. I'm a
big believer in marriage, and I'm convinced that same-sex marriage is a
way to help strengthen marriage; it's part of the solution to marriage's
problems. So that's where I'm coming from.
And then, of course, the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in June,
and everybody panicked, and then came the Massachusetts decision,
ordering same-sex marriage as of May 17. It seemed like it was really
time to put some of these ideas out there, so everybody worked very
fast. I wrote the book in August and September and it was edited by
One of the most striking things about the book is its very measured
and logical tone. Did you consider alternatives to this approach?
No, that's just the way I write—sometimes I think I might be a more
effective writer if I were more polemical. But there is also a further
dimension: I do feel that there's a burden on advocates of same-sex
marriage, since it's a big change, to show that we have thought very
seriously about this and that we really do have good answers to the
strongest arguments that the opponents can make. So I made a very
deliberate effort to try to avoid inflammatory rhetoric or
grandstanding. I just tried to surgically dissect the arguments, to
really look at what's behind them.
What do you think about the marriages in San Francisco?
I can't decide what I think, to be honest. I think, on balance, that
it was probably not a very wise thing to do. But my head goes one way
and my heart goes another. My head says that it's not a good idea for
elected officials to protest the laws they're supposed to enforce—that
that's a role that other people should play. But my heart says there's
never a good time for a civil-rights protest. Elected officials are
capable of reading the state constitution, and it's not unreasonable for
them to say that a law that's on the books violates the constitution.
What I think would have been absolutely wrong would have been for Gavin
Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, to say he was going to issue
marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a court order to
stop. That would have been a real threat to the rule of law. He did not
do that, and, in fact, two courts ruled in three separate rulings that
he could continue to issue the licenses. So to that extent he actually
had the court's sanction. And then, when the higher courts said "stop,"
he stopped. At the end of the day, I think it's a really close call.
I'm a little bit surprised to hear you characterize gay marriage so
emphatically as a civil-rights issue, because the book seems to shy away
from that emphasis.
I think that gay marriage is a civil-rights issue, but it's not only
a civil-rights issue; it's also a family-policy issue and a morals
issue. My book discusses some arguments that have to do with civil
rights; I do argue it's wrong to say that gays don't matter, that if
what's good for them is bad for somebody else, to heck with them. But
many people have already covered the civil-rights aspect of this
extremely well, so the rest of my book focuses on the social arguments
for gay marriage, which I think are very important.
This is a loaded debate, and a lot gets lost if all we're talking about
is equality and what the law says. It's a problem if same-sex marriage
advocates wind up having to say, "Well, equality requires us to be
included in this institution even though that is going to harm millions
and millions of other Americans." First of all, that's not true. But
second of all, it's potentially a really big setback to making the case
effectively. So I thought it was very important to explain that this is
not a win-lose situation. This is not gays attacking marriage or gays
against straights. I wanted to show that there are enormous social
What do you think the effect will be of the San Francisco and other
The main effect so far has been to show gay Americans that they do
have friends in the straight world. And that's a breakthrough, because
until now the presumption among gay people has been, "Straight people
don't really care, and we're on our own." That has given people a huge
boost. The second big effect will be to show straight America that this
is an issue they've got to wrestle with. The marriages that have already
been performed show that a lot of people do view the gay-marriage
movement as a struggle for equality and freedom, and I think that has
led more Americans to grapple with this issue. The effect may be even
bigger when genuine marriage licenses are issued in Massachusetts on May
17—genuine meaning legal, enforceable licenses.
So you're not too worried about a political backlash?
Oh, heck yes. We're having a huge political backlash right now.
State after state is passing constitutional amendments banning gay
marriage. The Virginia legislature has passed a law which not only bans
same-sex marriage but also bans civil unions. It even bans private
arrangements between people of the same sex that would confer some
benefits of marriage: two people can't even make a contract with each
other in private. There's also the movement to ban same-sex marriage
nationally, which is a radical new intrusion into states' power, as well
as a very bad idea for marriage. So there's an enormous backlash.
What's your sense of the best-case scenario, proceeding from the
situation as it is now?
For me, the crucial thing is for the federal government to keep its
nose out of this. I think that it's much too early in the process to
contemplate the Supreme Court, for example, ordering same-sex marriage.
The law says that the states should decide this, and constitutional
jurisprudence has upheld that. On the other hand, it would be an even
bigger mistake for the federal government to ban same-sex marriage
forever, even in states where the population was in favour of it. That
would guarantee that we would spend the next five decades creating
alternatives to marriage, and marriage would become one item on a menu
If we don't do either of those things, I think the best scenario is that
a state or two will try same-sex marriage and we'll have a chance to
find out how well it works. Gay people will finally have the opportunity
to show that we are good marital citizens, and that our participation
strengthens the institution of marriage by making it more universal. In
time, I think, other states would come to see that gay marriage is a
benefit, not a threat, and would adopt it.
Do you think that the state-by-state approach would cause any harmful
demographic changes by driving gay people out of the no-marriage states?
No, I think that the effects would be good. One of the great
strengths of our federalist system is that it lets people choose to live
in a place where the moral and legal climate is congenial to them.
That's the genius of our system: it doesn't force everyone to have the
same law and live in the same kind of place. The public is still making
up its mind on gay marriage, and different regions feel radically
differently. California, especially northern California, is not a bit
like Oklahoma. So the divide is already there. The big mistake would be
to pretend it isn't and to enforce a single national policy that half
the country would dissent from.
That's the mistake we made with abortion. Or, actually, that's the
mistake the Supreme Court made with abortion, and they started a
thirty-year culture and legal war which shows no signs of abating: every
judicial nomination is infected with abortion politics, states pass law
after law looking for ways to criminalize abortion. If the Supreme Court
hadn't imposed a single national policy, today virtually all states
would have legal abortion. One or two might not, and those would be
places where people who think abortion is murder would be able to live
in a legal climate conducive to their view of the world. Then this whole
vicious culture war wouldn't have happened. So, bottom line, I feel that
federalism makes us stronger and more unified as a country. It's a
strength, not a weakness.
Would you be willing to speculate on whether you think the
gay-marriage question will go that way?
I'm cautiously optimistic. I think that passing a constitutional
amendment is hard, and that the public doesn't support it. Public
opinion is evenly split, at best, on the question of amending the
Constitution, so I'm cautiously optimistic that a national federal ban
wouldn't pass. On the other side, I'm also pretty optimistic that this
time the Supreme Court will have the sense to let the states do their
thing. This court in particular has been extremely deferential to
states' authority. I think they learned a lesson from Roe v.
Wade. There's also the very important fact that we have more than a
hundred years of jurisprudence, virtually uncontested, that says
marriage is up to the states and that states do not have to recognize
each other's marriages. So for all these reasons—political, social, and
especially legal—I'm cautiously optimistic that we can get the
Do you think that at the state level the courts have a legitimate
role in this, that the charge that activist judges are overstepping
their bounds is false?
State judges absolutely have a role, and that role should be defined
by the state constitution and the people of the state. If people don't
like what the courts in their states are doing, they can change the
constitution, or change their judges. Massachusetts is on its way to
putting through a constitutional amendment which would ban same-sex
marriage, enact civil unions, and then put this to a vote of the people.
A popular referendum in Massachusetts would decide this issue. This is
not only not a threat to democracy—it doesn't get any more
democratic than this.
What do you think the legal and social status of Massachusetts
same-sex marriages will be if the state does amend the constitution to
ban gay marriage? Will the fact of legal marriages, even short-lived
ones, change anyone's attitudes?
My understanding is that the marriages themselves will convert to
civil unions. In terms of public perception, they might change attitudes
in both directions at once. My guess is that legal marriages will win at
least some local support for gay marriage, because when gay couples come
home with marriage licenses, their friends and neighbours will see that
the sky hasn't fallen, and that communities and families are stronger
when people are married. The opposing view is that people will be so
resentful of what the judges did that there will be a backlash. These
things are hard to predict.
What kinds of reactions have the book and your ideas received?
It's still early days, but what I anticipate is that this book will
take flack from both the left and the right. It will take flack from the
right, obviously, because it is for gay marriage. It will take flack
from the left because it is for marriage. The message of this book is
that marriage is unique and superior to other arrangements for couples
and society, that it's privileged and should be privileged. One of the
things that same-sex marriage will do is strengthen the special place
that marriage has in America, and there are quite a few people on the
left who don't want marriage to be privileged. They don't want the
government to have any kind of favourite relationship, so they'll be
uncomfortable with this.
Have there been any surprises from people who have read the book or
the article in The Atlantic?
Well, one very heartening thing that I often hear is married
straight people telling me that this book has greatly deepened their
appreciation of marriage. That means a whole lot to me, because to me
this is a book not just about gay marriage but about marriage. A
lot of people in America have come to think of marriage as just a
document from the government and a package of benefits. This book says
marriage is something much more than that: it's a promise that the
couple makes, not just to each other, but to their community. That's
what elaborate weddings are for, and that's why people ask spouses every
day, "How's your husband? How's your wife?" and expect them to know. The
community has an enormous stake in marriage, and plays an enormous role
in investing in a marriage, supporting it, and making it hard to get out
of. If someone says, "I'm getting a divorce," their friends and
neighbours and family and co-workers don't say, "Bully for you!" They
say, "Oh, gosh, that's too bad, I'm sorry." And what they're saying
there is, "We had a stake in this too, and divorce is a sad
event, sad for all of us." Even if a couple doesn't have kids, divorce
still means that two more people are out there on their own, and that
means more vulnerability and more insecurity.
How did your understanding of marriage and its importance develop?
Gosh, just so much thinking and writing over the years. Sometimes I
wonder if a lot of straight people might take marriage for granted
because they're so used to it. They don't see it the way a fish doesn't
see water. When you're excluded from the culture of marriage, the hope
of marriage, all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage, maybe
it's a little easier to appreciate what you're missing than what you
Do you think that marriage in America is pretty monolithic, or are
there significant differences having to do with race or class or
The legal institution is completely monolithic and the social
institution is also fairly monolithic. One of the great strengths of
marriage is that everybody knows what it is. Everybody knows it's the
obligation to look after your partner and make it your job, no matter
what else happens, to be there for that person. Everybody also takes for
granted that a certain package of legal benefits comes with it. Although
the social status of marriage is, I think, pretty monolithic, there has
been an enormous broadening, within the last thirty years, of the way
people actually conduct their marriages. I think that for the most part
that's a good thing, because it means a marriage can accommodate a
greater variety of couples. But the big change has not been marriage
becoming less monolithic in itself, it's that society has become much
less monolithic in its commitment to marriage as opposed to
non-marriage. A third of all American children are born out of wedlock.
Among African-Americans it's almost 70 percent. Cohabitation has
soared—that is, couples deciding not to get married at all, or deferring
marriage. There's also divorce, which is stable now, but is at very high
levels compared to any earlier time in our history.
Do you favour social programs that go into inner cities to try to
I do. There's a lot of experimentation going on with social work
that tries to shore up families, and shoring up families means shoring
up marriage, because marriage is what glues families together. That
means trying to help teach people how to be married and what being
married means. These programs are far from the magic bullet, but the
evidence shows that they can make a difference.
From your research, do you have a sense of how they make a
Every program is different, and there's no template. There are all
kinds of approaches being used: counselling, for example, and I believe
there are some incentive-based programs that provide benefits to people
who get married. There are also cultural programs that try to spread the
word about marriage, because there are whole neighbourhoods in this
country where a stable married couple is an exotic thing. I don't know
about you, but I grew up in a world where most adults were married. If
they were divorced, they were looking to marry again, because they all
took for granted that marriage was in their lives or in their future.
Marriage-promotion efforts are being made by lots of community groups in
different places all over the country, and they're very tailored to
particular situations and particular client groups. For example, a
single mother who is not in contact with the father of her children and
who wants to go out into the marriage market is in a very different
position from an unmarried couple who have a child and are trying to
decide whether to get married.
Do you think that marriage as it exists today is better or more
special than marriage as it has existed historically, or do you think
the institution has, even in its wide variety, always conferred the same
sorts of benefits?
Marriage has definitely changed enormously. Within my lifetime
marriage in some states was only between people of the same race. Within
my lifetime divorce was much harder to get. If you want to talk about a
change in marriage which is really enormous and significant, it used to
be taken for granted that "til death do us part" really meant "til death
do us part." Getting a divorce used to be a legal nightmare, and in some
countries divorce wasn't necessarily even possible; you'd have to get an
annulment. I'm not sure if America was one of those countries; it may
have been, as recently as the mid-nineteenth century. The liberalization
of divorce laws in the sixties and seventies was revolutionary: it
completely changed the terms of marriage. Some people like that and some
people don't, but it had far more effect on marriage than anything gay
marriage is likely to do, because it affects every couple in the terms
of their marriage.
Then you can go back earlier. It was considered revolutionary, and by
some an offence against nature and God, when the laws were changed in
the nineteenth century to allow wives to own their own property and have
economic independence. Until fairly recently, young people couldn't
decide whom to marry; that decision was considered to belong by right to
their parents, and marriage was essentially a business alliance between
families. And of course polygamy has been the norm in most human
cultures, though not a single one of those cultures has been liberal or
democratic. King Solomon had, what, 500 wives? So marriage is in
constant flux, and it always will be, and it always should be. It has to
Throughout all of these changes, have the benefits of marriage, as
you describe them in the book, persisted? Or are those benefits specific
to marriage as it exists in America today?
I think that the three central functions of marriage have persisted
pretty well. One is child-rearing; another is providing domestic
stability, which is especially important for young people and people who
need to get themselves established. In the days when marriage was a
business arrangement, you couldn't really start your life until you were
married. The third function is providing a safety net for everybody,
providing someone whose job it is to look after each individual. In
earlier forms of marriage, the sex roles were very different, very
structured. We've gotten away from that, something I think is all for
the good. What we haven't gotten away from is that over the centuries
the basic commitment of the marriage vow, which is a commitment to care
for another person come what may, has pretty much remained the true
north for marriage.
Do you think that channelling people's attention toward family life
and domesticity inhibits any creativity or energies that might be
directed at other kinds of achievements?
No, it frees people up to have energetic and exciting personal
lives. You can't go out and have the kind of risk-taking career that a
lot of people want if you don't have a home to go back to that's pretty
stable and supportive.
Does that require one spouse to do more of the supporting?
No, I think it requires mutual support in the creation of the home
and in the knowledge someone will go looking for you if you don't come
home at night. That's just essential; home is where someone looks after
you, and family is your base. Married people are healthier, happier,
more prosperous, and more secure. They have fewer problems with
depression and crime, they lead longer lives—by every measure we can
calculate, married people do better on average, and that's even after
you account for the differences in the married and unmarried
populations. This isn't to say that single people can't do wonderful
things, and don't do wonderful things, but I think marriage is a help,
not a hindrance.
In the book you describe the increasing normalization of
homosexuality as a "bend in the river of history." Do you have a theory
about what caused history to take that turn? Or is there a moment you'd
identify when the "bend" became inevitable?
There's no moment; it's just a realization over the past thirty to
forty years that there are some people who are so constituted as to be
homosexual. It's the understanding that these people are not misbehaving
heterosexuals, that homosexuality is not chosen, that it is not
changeable, that it is not pathological, and that some small minority of
the population just is this way and poses no threat to anybody else. Of
course, today there are still a great many people who don't believe
that, but many people now do. Once that's accepted, then gay marriage
seems a natural thing, because it's not going to mean that lots of
straight people suddenly decide to have same-sex marriages and forgo
having children. It just means including gay people in the same social
compact that straight people make.
I think the acceptance came about as straight people started knowing gay
people, starting in the late 1960s. Gay people became much less willing
to hide and much more assertive about the fact that they were not sick
and they were not dangerous—and they were not going to be treated as if
they were. Now a lot of Americans know someone personally who is gay, or
have someone in their family who is gay, and other Americans see this on
TV. This makes it all seem much less scary and weird.
Do you think that popular culture has a role to play in the
It certainly has its effects, but I think it's as much following as
leading. It's part of the general trend toward acceptance of the fact
that homosexuality exists. As for its role in the future, I really look
forward to the day when you see happily married gay couples on TV. I
think that's a great advertisement for marriage, because it will further
underline that marriage is something that everyone should be allowed and
encouraged to do.
Do you think cohabitation on TV is moving things in the other
Well, as I said, culture and TV are as much effects as causes. Do
you remember what Dan Quayle said around 1990, that it does not help
when a popular TV show like Murphy Brown extols the benefits of
single parenthood? Obviously single parenthood is a part of life, it
shouldn't be hidden or disguised, but if you have a situation where it's
fashionable for people to be portrayed as unmarried, that doesn't help
exemplify marriage. By the same token, if you ban same-sex marriage, the
inevitable result is that you turn every gay couple into a poster-child
for cohabitation. You say to the world: look how great life can be
outside of marriage. And there are already enough heterosexuals out
there looking for excuses or reasons not to get married. I think that's
exactly the wrong message to send and it just baffles me why
conservatives would want to send it.
Is there anybody else making similar arguments to yours?
Yes, Andrew Sullivan, for example, and I think Dale Carpenter at the
University of Minnesota, although he's more interested in the legal
side. Most people thinking about this issue, though, are either coming
from the gay-rights movement and view marriage mainly as a matter of
civil rights and not social benefits, or they're coming from the
religious right and think of it as a matter of morality and a referendum
on homosexuality. The kind of thinking I'm doing here in this book is
much newer. It says, Wait a minute, let's think about family policy.
That's much more recent, because family-policy thinkers in this country
were busy doing other things and didn't really see gay-marriage coming.
It does seem to have come about unexpectedly quickly.
Tell me about it. My head is spinning.
Were the developments of the past couple of years surprising to you?
I vividly remember a conversation that I had with my father in the
fall of 1995. He advised me not to write about gay marriage, not because
of his views on the subject, but because he said it would marginalize
me. He thought that gay marriage was a wacko, out-there idea that no one
would take seriously, and that if I wrote about it, I wouldn't be taken
seriously. In 1995, that was how the world looked.
It's not even ten years later and now you've got millions of
good-hearted Americans wrestling with this issue and taking it very
seriously, whereas just a few years ago they would have said, "Don't be
ridiculous, I'm not even going to talk about it, get out of my face with
that garbage." The moral debate we're having now is one of the most
touching and moving things I've ever lived through. Obviously not
everyone agrees with me, and I don't expect them to. But at the end of
the day, Americans are morally very serious people. They're weighing
this carefully, really thinking about it. I'm very happy to have lived
to see that.
Do you think that people who are weighing it are weighing it
increasingly from a social-policy point of view?
No, they're weighing all kinds of things, but I think they're mostly
searching for a way to do right by their gay friends and fellow
citizens. Not all of them are; some say that homosexuality is disgusting
and these people should just get off the planet. But a lot of people are
saying, "Okay, I don't want to change something as basic as marriage if
I don't have to, but I do want to do right by my gay fellow citizens.
How do I do that?"
I'm curious about your decision to use the first person and personal
experience in the book. Was that an easy decision to make?
Yes, because that's how I write, and also because it's important for
people to know I have a vested interest so that they can evaluate the
book properly. I also talked about my own experience because it's
important for people to understand that we're talking about real
people's lives. This isn't just theoretical; there are 9, 12, 15 million
Americans—roughly the population of Illinois—who are deprived of the
single most important social institution in adult life: that is,
marriage. Most people would rather give up the vote than marriage, and a
lot of people, real people, are being excluded from that. Real people
are unable to care for their partners because they are being shut out of
hospital rooms. Real people are finding their partners shut out of the
country because they're classified as unrelated individuals. Real people
are losing their houses when one of them dies. And on and on. The point
I'm making is there's a lot of real injury being done, and people need
to know that these are real human beings, real individuals, and every
Back to the equal-rights argument?
Equality is very important, don't get me wrong. Extremely important.
But it's also about basic decency; it's about do unto others as you
would have them do unto you. If you wouldn't be willing to tell 12
million straight Americans, "tough, you can't get married, it's not
convenient for the rest of us," then you shouldn't do that to 12 million
gay Americans, not just as a matter of equality but as a matter of basic
We are a better and stronger country when we do our utmost to treat all
individuals with respect and to open opportunity to every individual.
And we're a stronger country when our civic institutions are universal
institutions, when they're defined by what they oblige instead of by
whom they exclude. Voting is stronger because women can vote, and
marriage will be stronger when gays can marry.
You say "when gays can marry." Do you think it's inevitable
that gay marriage will eventually be legal?
Well, it looks like it's almost inevitable that it will be legal on
May 17 in Massachusetts, so I'm willing to say to that question, almost
certainly yes. If you mean will it be legal on every square inch of
American soil? I think that might be a long way off. Will it become
broadly accepted? Yes, I'm cautiously optimistic that it will be. I
think if we do this with due deliberation people will see that it works,
and will see that it's a positive thing. States and citizens across the
country will come around to thinking it's a good thing. but I think that
it will take a while. The majority of the country is still against it. A
significant minority thinks that homosexuality is a very bad thing and
that gay people, if they want to do that, should do it in
private, with no help from the government and no other form of
Do you think that gradual social change is better than sweeping
social change as a rule, or is it specific to the situation?
Sometimes sweeping social change is necessary. Take the Civil War—a
horrible thing, a really horrible thing. If it had taken ten years
longer to abolish slavery and we could have avoided the Civil War, I
would take that deal. But sometimes you're not left with any alternative
to social dislocation.
The genius of America, though, is that normally we don't back ourselves
into a corner that way. And by temperament, I'm a radical
incrementalist. I believe in fomenting revolutionary change on the
geological time scale. My friend David Frum, who is an avid opponent of
gay marriage and a self-professed conservative, will tell you that he
thinks I'm the only real conservative in Washington, in the sense of
generally taking the view that you can achieve almost anything if you
have a little bit of patience. And, as Gypsy Rose Lee the stripper once
put it, "Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."
Is that part of why you chose to argue in such a reasoned, measured
That's a soft-ball question! But yes, I think that's the great thing
about our country, that if you have a case, people will listen to you.
That's not necessarily true in the short term, where demagoguery often
rules. But in the longer term, when people stop panicking and start
thinking—which they inevitably do—they do evaluate argument. And that's
why I wrote this book. I have a lot of confidence in the ability of the
American people to understand that the universal culture of marriage
will be a good thing.