GAY MARRIAGE….Eve Tushnet writes to draw my attention to MarriageDebate.com Blog, which, while it has the disadvantage of sounding like a failed dotcom, has the non-dotcommish virtue of being clear in its mission: to debate marriage. In particular, gay marriage.

The site is run by Maggie Gallagher, and although Maggie herself opposes gay marriage Eve suggests that the site is “about 50/50 pro-con” and “passionate but respectful.” I’m not sure I can agree with the 50-50 description, since with the exception of one valiant trooper named Dale Carpenter the posts seem to be pretty heavily opposed to gay marriage, but the tone is indeed sober and nonconfrontational. Check it out for yourself if the topic interests you or if you want to contribute.

As for me, I don’t blog on this kind of thing much because it’s hard to think of anything to say that’s not just a gussied up emotional reaction. Basically, I favor gay marriage because it just doesn’t bother me and I can’t think of any good reason to deny it to anyone. There’s no telling why, really, and I’d have a hard time trying to invent an intellectual superstructure to justify my instinct.

Conversely, even among social conservatives it’s considered gauche these days to say flat out that homosexuals are yucky, but to my ears the arguments against gay marriage mostly sound like attempts to search out plausible intellectual arguments that, at their core, say exactly that. Gay marriage is bad because (a) it will lead to polygamy, (b) gays make lousy parents, (c) it will make marriage less attractive to virile straight guys, (d) it violates a biological imperative, etc. etc. These mostly seem rather desperately plucked out of the air, rather than the result of any serious analysis.

In a nutshell, social conservatives argue that gay marriage will rend the fabric of society in various ways, but it strikes me that this is one of a handful of issues in which, ironically, the actual damage is not caused by some objective harm to society but by the very fact that conservatives themselves insist on fighting the change tooth and nail. Just as the civil rights movement of the 60s turned sour largely because southern conservatives fought so bitterly against it, the same thing is happening here.

On the other hand, if they could just relax and realize that gay marriage or no, the kids will be fine, the institution of marriage will be fine (despite the, um, rather substantial damage it’s taken from heterosexuals for the past few decades), and bridal magazines will continue to publish thousand-page spring issues, then, in fact, everything would probably turn out fine.

Not that I think there’s any chance of that happening, mind you….