Kathryn Lopez

Not too long ago, conventional wisdom seemed to dictate that gay marriage in America was inevitable. Conservatives, surprisingly, would tell me this more often than anyone. But something has changed. Carrie Prejean has had an effect on us.

That's the argument made by my friend, Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, in the latest issue of National Review.

After a series of judicial usurpations, legislative victories, and public-relations onslaughts, the gay-marriage movement took a blow this past November, when Proposition 8 was passed in California. Voters affirmed a ballot measure that defined marriage as "between a man and a woman."

The sea change just may have come when a pretty, empathetic face came onto the national scene. A young beauty contestant was asked about her position on gay marriage, and she answered honestly (and as it turns out, bravely): "I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." She added: "No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

The fact is that however you spin it, gay unions are not marriage. And I write this totally aware that heterosexual culture has not done what it should to protect marriage. But our falling short -- individually and culturally -- is no reason to call the whole thing off and erase a cornerstone of civilized society.

Gallagher writes: "Same-sex unions are really not just like opposite-sex unions when marriage is in question. Celebrating all forms of adult romantic love equally is not a very good justification for redefining a fundamental institution whose public purposes reach far beyond the affirmation of romance."

The New York Times, just a day or so after Gallagher's piece ran, confirmed that something has changed. In an article titled "Backers of Gay Marriage Rethink California Push," the paper reported on how, discouraged by the political and cultural climate, many gay-marriage advocates are scaling back efforts to overturn Proposition 8. This, despite the supposed inevitability of which some of my friends on the right were all but convinced, not long ago.

And despite the shrill assertions of the Prop-8 protesters, it's not impossible to find members of the non-heterosexual community with an ambivalent view of marriage.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.