Journalist Andrew Sullivan was discovered in 2001 anonymously soliciting partners on homosexual websites.  Thus, it might seem odd that Sullivan, who is HIV-positive, now champions marriage.  He has not mainstreamed orthodoxy into his lifestyle, however, but is crusading for “gay marriage,” an absurdity that is no laughing matter.

Sullivan’s mission is not impossible.  While 37 states have passed laws declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman—Alaska’s, Hawaii’s, Nebraska’s, and Nevada’s defense-of-marriage acts are state-constitutional amendments—the 13 remaining states that do not have such protections on their books risk being forced by the courts to recognize Vermont’s “civil unions” or California’s “domestic partnerships.”  What is surprising about Sullivan’s crusade is that he has been given a soapbox in corners of the supposedly conservative press.

After September 11, the former editor of the New Republic jumped aboard the War Party bandwagon and was welcomed by neoconservatives and establishment Republicans who prefer the “War on Terror” to the culture war and desire a diverse coalition of the willing.  Indeed, his desktop militarism is so hard-core that he is often identified as conservative, which shows how far the label has drifted from its moorings.

If Sullivan had not become the macho-macho man of the War Party, he might not be able to insinuate his pet passion into so many media outlets.  In October, for example, the Wall Street Journal’s “American Conservatism” forum featured a column in which he lectured conservatives to accept homosexual marriage.

“Gay Americans are no longer criminals,” he wrote in reference to Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruling that struck down state sodomy laws.  (Sodomy, according to Sullivan, is the necessary expression of homosexuality.  As he wrote in a recent New York Times column condemning a particular Roman Catholic moral doctrine—Sullivan claims to be a Catholic—sodomy provides an “outlet for [homosexuals’] deepest emotional needs.”)  Because conservatives can no longer regard homosexuals “as some permanent kind of Other”—even Dick Cheney’s daughter is a lesbian activist, he notes, as if the status of a politico’s problem child should end all debate—it is immoral to deny them marriage licenses.  Such “prohibitionism” deprives would-be “spouses” of the blessings enjoyed by married men and women, including that of rearing children.

If our culture were not so lost, it would be unnecessary to defend “traditional” marriage against this perverse variation on an old theme.  For, other than differences in the number of wives a man might have, marriage has been a constant throughout history: Outside of the DuPont Circles of the contemporary West, marriage has been universally recognized as the institutional arrangement  between members of the opposite sex for the rearing of children.  This is so natural and so obvious that only a fool could misapprehend it.

The family has been under assault in the West for some time, especially with the degradation of marriage from an institution affirmed by community and church to just another commercial arrangement administered by the state and subject to no-fault divorce.  Assaulting marriage is bad enough; promoting mongrel forms of “marriage” so perverse that no society can long tolerate—let alone accept—them, would only add more ruined lives to the culture war’s casualty roster.  With any luck, the United States will not have to discover this the hard way.