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Reaction to same-sex marriage reflects our conservative resistance to change

Reaction to same-sex marriage reflects our conservative resistance to change

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Two letters Sunday accurately reflect our current unfavorable attitudes toward same-sex marriage ("Common understanding of marriage won't exist much longer" and "Judge oversteps his boundaries with ruling on gay marriage").

One of them expressed “disgust and revulsion,” which are two natural responses to a social innovation that at first blush seems weird, perhaps even gross. The other letter observes that a judge, “with the stroke of a pen,” has dared to change that “age-old institution.” The judge's decision flies in the face of what the writer terms “a physical fact of nature.”

I have objections to both of these reactions. For one thing, simply feeling a visceral horror at something new does not automatically disqualify it from consideration. It merely reflects our conservative resistance to change; it should instead prompt some quiet reflection. We should recall that other daring experimental practices, like, say, racial integration or even democracy, have excited similar initial horror.

Secondly, to tie marriage to “physical facts” is to reduce it to the purely sexual. Well, as many of us of a certain age have discovered, there is a good deal more to this sacrament than those rare bodily encounters.

Jamie Spencer  •  Des Peres

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