The author of that Daily editorial would do well to learn what the hell he's talking about, especially if he's going to keep up with his theater of condescension, because nothing's more embarrassing than being condescending and undereducated at the same time. Mr. Fay writes:
Also, the Christian concept of marriage predates any state-sanctioned licensing program, which means marriage is an inherently religious concept in America.
Hmm. What was marriage like before John Fay's parents got married, and before their parents got married, and before theirs, and before theirs, and before theirs? Fay's grasp of the history doesn't seem particularly complete. There was definitely a church component, but, um...
For centuries in Europe, formal marriage was a private contract between landed families, designed to insure that property remained within a particular lineage. In the upper classes, families essentially married other families, forging political alliances and social obligations among relatives and kin. It was during the Reformation, with the emergence of the early Protestant idea of “companionate marriage,” that the emotional bond between husband and wife came to be seen as an end in itself. As the social historian Lawrence Stone noted, this was a marked departure from the Catholic ideal of chastity, which considered earthly marriage a more or less unfortunate necessity meant to accommodate human weakness; “It is better to marry than to burn,” St. Paul had said, but he made it sound like a close call.
The philosopher Charles Taylor, in an examination of how our attitude toward interior life has changed over the past five hundred years, argues that the trend line runs in one direction: from a self-understanding gained from our place in larger entities—such as a chain of being or divine order—toward purpose discovered from within, through what we consider to be authentic self-expression. This is the distance Western culture has travelled from the church confessional to the therapist’s couch. In turn, the choice of whom to marry has become less about satisfying the demands of family and community than about satisfying oneself. When you add the contraceptive and reproductive technologies that have separated sex from procreation, what you have is a model of heterosexual marriage that is grounded in and almost entirely sustained on individual preference. This is a historically peculiar state of affairs, one that would be alien to our ancestors and to most traditional cultures today. And it makes the push for gay marriage inevitable.
There's a lot more to the piece—including information about constitutionality, a subject I know you're interested in, Mr. Fay, as well as tons of other smaller legal asides ("As recently as 1984, a man could not be prosecuted for raping his own wife; today, it’s a crime in all fifty states")—here. You're welcome, John. Least I could do. Go dawgs.
(Other things I've learned in the last five minutes: Fay is not prolific, having written only three editorials for The Daily, and the one in question is the first to be illustrated with a man who appears to desire to have sex with a sheep; he is a big television watcher, apparently his primary source for information; and he is the finance chair for the College Republicans at UW, according to an article in The Daily about campus reactions to news of Obama's victory ["The College Republicans also held an election party in Bellevue. John Fay, finance chair of the College Republicans, said the group didn’t want to speak with press at the time"].)
If you have thoughts about Fay's piece that you'd like to share with the editor of The Daily, the number is 206-543-2700. Dial 1 for the editor in chief and 5 for the opinion editor.