Politics professor Robert George and philosophy student Sherif Girgis GS aim to make a compelling argument for the traditionalist view of marriage in a forthcoming book, set to be published in December.
The book — titled “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” — seeks to improve the quality of the debate surrounding same-sex marriage, according to Girgis.
“It was bad for both sides and for public discourse in general for the debate to proceed largely by stigmatization and marginalization,” Girgis said.
George did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The purpose of the book is to challenge the arguments made by proponents of what George and Girgis refer to as a “revisionist” view of marriage, who claim that marriage should not be limited to one man and one woman, according to Girgis.
The book is an extension of an article by the same title, published by George, Girgis and Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan Anderson '04 in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy in 2010. Anderson is also a coauthor of the book.
“One of the main points we make is that this is not just a question about whether to expand or restrict the pool of people eligible to get married but a question of which vision of marriage to enshrine in the law,” Girgis said.
The book argues that marriage is distinct from other forms of companionship, such as relationships based on caretaking or friendship. The revisionist view, Sherif said, does not do enough to distinguish marriage from “simple companionship.”
“What is Marriage” differs from the previous work of George and Girgis by more thoroughly addressing objections and expanding upon their original argument for conjugal marriage.
“The positive argument [for conjugal marriage] is more compelling and engaging,” Girgis said, discussing the difference between the new book and their other work. “We try to sharpen the objections and concerns for the other side."
Politics professor Stephen Macedo, whose work argues that same-sex marriage is morally justifiable, said the liberties available to heterosexual couples should be available to homosexual couples as well.
“[The traditionalist view is] a very sort of restrictive view of morally acceptable or morally good sexual activity,” Macedo said. “It is, as I understand it, that a sexual act is morally good or acceptable only when it’s open to procreation, heterosexual intercourse within marriage and uncontracepted."
Macedo said public opinion is shifting and is now more supportive of same-sex marriage, as expressed by recent victories for same-sex marriage in this month’s elections.
The reason, Macedo said, is that arguments against same-sex marriage are weak. One of the most common arguments against same-sex marriage is that it would harm the interests of children, but Macedo said there isn't a lot of good evidence on that front.
Macedo said he doubted that the upcoming book will significantly impact public opinion.
“I’m sure it will be a carefully written statement of his position,” he said. “I don’t think many people will be convinced. The arguments are pretty well known on that side, and people aren’t being convinced by them.”
However, Girgis said that despite the victories for same-sex marriage in the recent election, there is room for argument.
“It’s certainly significant, but I don’t think it means that the future will be fixed by these blind forces of history,” Girgis said. “The future is not determined, it’s chosen. So there’s still a role for argument.”
Correction: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article omitted the class year for Ryan Anderson '04. The 'Prince' regrets the error.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/11/18/31868/