If you want to see just how intellectually desperate the argument against gay marriage now is, you should take a look at Charles Moore's piece in today's Telegraph. To all appearances it's not yer fulminating prejudice, though it does fall back on the plea of traditional meanings. Yet the absence of any principled reason for resisting the legalization of gay marriage, beyond the claim that it might not be a priority for 'the general public', is glaring. First note this innocently blind way of dissolving the interests of some people within the undifferentiated whole:
The number of civil partnerships contracted in this country is less than one per cent of the number of marriages each year. You can sell to most people the proposition that such small minorities should be fairly treated. You will encounter sales resistance if you insist they be allowed to redefine something which belongs to us all. That something, in this case, is marriage.
The simple point somehow missed by Moore is that, as things stand, marriage doesn't belong to us all; it doesn't belong to same-sex couples, which is the situation that needs to be reformed.
So what's Moore's reason against? Well, he points out other restrictions on who may marry.
You have to be adult. You cannot be married to somebody else. You cannot be closely related by blood to the person you marry. And the person you marry must be of the opposite sex.
It's as if any justified restrictions on who may marry must in turn justify any other restrictions. In which case, why not have laws against tall people marrying short people? The above list of Moore's may well put us on our mettle to explain why under-age and/or polygamous and/or incestuous marriage should be against the law. But if we think any or all of these types of union should be against the law, then we owe everyone a reason for thinking it. Moore doesn't even attempt a reason against gay marriage. There's a generic appeal by him to the common good, that's all - which, of course, would serve equally for delegitimizing tall-short or blonde-brunette unions, except that he hasn't shared with his readers how gay marriage offends against the common good.
Oh, and I haven't overlooked this bit either:
But it is a change to the practice of all civilisations everywhere throughout history... I support Tory modernisation, but I hope I am not being disloyal if I question whether even Mr Cameron has the capacity to rethink an institution which has dominated the world (for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer) since Adam and Eve.
What do you think Moore would have to say about the time-hallowed traditions and practices of gender inequality and the effort to change these? You can call him Desperation T. Cornpone.