Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 18, 2013

Joel Clarke Gibbons
Pages 265-270

The Natural Need for Public Standards: The Case of Marriage Law

The conventional defense of same-sex “marriage” is that it frees men and women to choose the way they define marriage, but that calls for something that is quite impossible because marriage is a social reality. Like all such products of socialization, it is learned behavior, and it is learned from the established cultural norms. When we contemplate marriage, we confront an institution that we do not define for the simple reason that it does not matter to the individual what he means by marriage, what matters is what his or her mate means by marriage. That shared value is by necessity learned because it is a commitment that cannot otherwise be communicated in a credible way.