A Response to the 'Conservative Case' for Same-Sex Marriage: Same-Sex Marriage and 'The Tragedy of the Commons'
BYU Journal of Public Law, Vol. 22, p. 441, 2008
18 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2008 Last revised: 10 Jun 2015
Date Written: September 29, 2008
After initially reporting on the status of the movement for same-sex marriage in the United States and around the world, this article reviews the five key claims of the "conservative case" for same-sex marriage ("we exist," stabilization, sexual taming, social gains, and no harm) and compares them to the seven core principles of conservatism (preservation, institutions, caution, experience, distrust, individualism, and morality). It finds that the claims for same-sex marriage are seriously deficient when measured against those conservative principles. It presents a conservative case against same-sex marriage both in terms of those key principles of conservatism as well by reference to the practical harms and detriments to society, families and individuals that have come and may be reasonably expected to flow from same-sex marriage. Borrowing Garrett Hardin's famous "tragedy of the commons" metaphor, this article suggests that lack of personal responsibility for the common interest in marriage underlies much of the acceptance of same-sex marriage, and concludes with a call to consider the ultimate accountability that the consequences of our social choices will produce.
Keywords: marriage, conservatism, same-sex marriage
JEL Classification: D63, H42, I12, J12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation