116 Something New
bu hey will also have a clear legal ramework or hose ransiions anda culural ramework or dening heir commimen o one anoher. Tecriics o gay marriage underesimae he posiive gains o he communiy while oversaing he poenial downsides, as I will argue laer.
Why Might Marriage Change Gay People?
Some peculiar aspecs o he marriage debaes emerge when looking a heull range o paricipans in he debae, which includes boh conservaives who oppose gay marriage and gay people who oppose prioriizing he goalo gay marriage and someimes oppose he insiuion o marriage isel.(In he nex chaper, I call hose gay people he “marriage dissidens.”) Alhough hey reach dieren conclusions abou wheher marriage willchange gay people—“I will,” say he gay marriage dissidens; “I won’,”insis religious conservaives—he dissidens and conservaives are, oddly,more alike han hey rs seem. Conservaives have an idealized picure o heerosexual marriage ha ocuses on he old breadwinner dad/careakermom/muliple children ideal marriage, wih marriage as an insiuion haames he baser insincs o men. Some gay marriage dissidens also as-sume an old-ashioned view o heerosexual marriage: wo people givingup heir individualiy o become one undiereniaed couple ha is guided by a sric gender code, wih marriage “domesicaing” gay men and lesbi-ans—in shor, he conservaives’ marriage dressed up in ancier language.Tis hisorically rozen perspecive conrass sharply wih he dynamic view o marriage skeched ou in he work o demographers, sociologiss,hisorians, and economiss who sudy marriage and modern amilies. Te broad range o modern amily orms, including marriage, remarriage, co-habiaion, blended amilies, and single parening, sugges ha marriagehas a very dieren social and personal meaning oday han i did a hun-dred—or even y—years ago.Te inense ocus on wheher gay people will be changed in some way by marriage migh seem odd o some academics who sudy marriage or aliving. For mos o hose social scieniss, he issue o same-sex marriagehas barely made he inellecual radar screen, much o my surprise. Oneexcepion is he noed demographer Andrew Cherlin. He argues ha mar-riage has become “deinsiuionalized” in he sense ha here are no lon-ger any “shared undersandings o how o ac,” ha is, social rules, embed-ded in marriage now o ell married people wha o do.
In his view, heindividual couple now largely sands alone o negoiae roles and behavior