Maggie Gallagher
Last week two things happened:

In Massachusetts, seven same-sex couples appealed the case for gay marriage to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

In Washington, D.C., three Republican and three Democratic representatives introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment, which says: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

The FMA is the brainchild of the Alliance for Marriage, which has gathered an unusually broad multicultural, interfaith coalition of support from African American and Hispanic leaders as well as Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews. This broad support is not surprising: Marriage is not and should not be a conservative or liberal issue.

The usual suspects responded in the usual way: It's a "vicious attempt to make the U.S. Constitution explicitly anti-lesbian and gay rights," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women.

Gandy packs a lot into one sentence. To believe (as I do) that marriage is between men and women, that it aims to get mothers and fathers for children, and to regulate those sexual relationships (permanent, life-giving) upon which the very existence of the next generation depends makes one a vicious bigot.

No big news there. More surprising has been the tepid reaction on what the left likes to call the far-right.

Many economic conservatives have little stomach for this fight. They no longer understand marriage as a key social institution, carrying out an important public purpose. They see marriage as an essentially private relationship, a soft good to be encouraged by culture and religion and family, but having no intrinsic relationship to law (which is supposed to regulate important things like property rights).

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.