Marriage, papal names, Guantánamo Bay

Leading by Example

As strongly as Andrew Koppelman critiques What Is Marriage? (“More Intuition than Argument,” May 3), his own argument runs in strange symmetry with that of the three authors whose reasoning he rejects. For the authors of What Is Marriage?, homosexual people are unable to marry: “There is no bodily good or function toward which their bodies can coordinate.” The case is open-and-shut. But the same goes for Koppelman. Marriage, he says, “is not ‘essentially’ anything. It is a contingent cultural formation.” Now that Gallup has shown that 53 percent of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, it is time for a redefinition: marriage is “a practice which can be modified freely as our understanding of human needs change.” Again, open-and-shut. In both cases, for and against, we have marriage in the head (D. H. Lawrence famously complained against attempting to figure out “sex in the head”). Catholics have every reason to doubt the open-and-shut case on both sides of the argument.

Koppelman has written prodigiously on the subject of gay marriage, including an article in a Minnesota law journal eight years ago, in which he claimed the debate over gay marriage is “administrative.” The debate concerns “nothing as exalted as intrinsic value. It is the more mundane...

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