in the Not-Yet Set

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 03, 2006

Today's New York Times has discovered -- or, more likely, invented -- the phenomenon of "hetero hold-outs," and treats us to a cheery puff piece on the subject:

Some heterosexual couples, mostly in their in 20s and 30s, are protesting the inability of gay and lesbian couples to marry by putting off their own marriage. Unless wedded bliss is available to everyone, in every state, they say, they want no part of it.

"Wedded bliss"? If you're inclined to suspect that these heroic couples have denied themselves the wedding more often than the bliss, this article will not put your doubts to rest:

Despite having a son, 18, [Andrea Ayvazian and Michael Klare of Massachusetts] are among the couples who say "not yet" to marriage until gays and lesbians have the same right to marry as heterosexuals.

I'm sure the 18-year-old in question is waiting with bated breath for the Big Day ("Will Mom wear white ...?") so as to celebrate the postponed union of his exceptionally prescient parents, who must have begun their nuptial strike during the Reagan administration -- when gay marriage was barely a gleam in the old man's eye. Yet it's clear that Andrea and Michael, like the other heroes the NYT holds up for our admiration, have done without the ceremony of matrimony rather than its privileges. They congratulate themselves, fittingly, on a protest without a price.

The most important fact pertinent to this article is that it appears in the Times' Fashion & Style section. Because it is morally frivolous, the campaign for same-sex marriage has died of its own weightlessness wherever proposed as a claim to be taken seriously. Yet a hugely prosperous society can spend a lot of attention on un-serious things -- particularly its own diversion -- and much elite opinion on social issues is formed less by dialectic than by style.

This is important. Whereas a principled stand is inherently criticizable and requires defense by argument, a fashion just is. By the same token, a change in fashion isn't explained or debated or voted on, it is simply announced -- among other places, on the pages of the New York Times. If you can't persuade your fellow citizens that a social innovation is righteous or reasonable, it's best to convince them that it's chic.

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