A Critique of "For Gay Marriage," by Andrew Sullivan

Essay by lineman64College, UndergraduateA, February 2009

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In Andrew Sullivan's article, "For Gay Marriage", he is a man on a mission. He appears to be so fully committed to democratic values that he seeks to extend equal rights in marriage to homosexuals. And he makes an admirable case for equality and dignity for all people, including homosexuals. However, he could make an even stronger case by citing more studies and expert opinions.

Although Sullivan's meaning is well taken by sympathetic readers, the fact is that he could overcome much of the ambiguity of his presentation by citing more concrete studies, including long-term studies, which support his key points. For example, when he makes the assertion that "in some ways the marriage issue is exactly parallel to the military" (283), it is unclear exactly what he means. Is he referring to prejudice against gay soldiers? On the other hand, is he referring to a common requirement of self-sacrifice? The answer is simply not clear because Sullivan never cites any studies of the problem he has in mind.

An even more important point for Sullivan concerns child-rearing. He asserts, one may say correctly if he already shares Sullivan's opinion, that children raised by homosexual partners are as well adjusted as children raised by traditional, heterosexual parents. This would be a perfect opportunity for Sullivan to cite several well-conducted, long-term studies which bear out his view. But does he take the opportunity? Does he cite any studies? No, not one.

Another key point for Sullivan concerns the relative importance of legalizing gay marriage. He asserts that "if nothing else were done at all, and gay marriage were legalized, 90% of the political work necessary to achieve gay and lesbian equality would have been achieved" (285). But, Sullivan never explains where he gets the figure 90%. He could explain if...