Susan Shell is the guest contributor today to Maggie and Evan Wolfon's debate on marriage. Shell makes the point that the debate over marriage is about marriage, but about other underlying issues as well:
The issue of gay marriage brings to a head a central conflict between two fundamental moral positions that interact, like seismic plates, beneath the surface of contemporary political life. It is commonly thought that this issue pits secular liberals against religious conservatives. While this understanding is accurate up to a point, it is also seriously misleading. [Continue reading on the sidebar at right]
Shell concludes by suggesting that "Before leaping ahead with a radical redefinition of marriage" it would be wise to "think out more fully than has yet been done the likely consequences [of legalizing same-sex marriage] for liberal society more generally, especially concerning provision for the raising of a new generation of well-equipped liberal citizens."
Shell does suggest one limit to what the law may do: "What the law cannot do is to abolish the distinction between couples that can or might together produce children of whom they are the sole biological parents and those that cannot."