EVEN BEFORE the morning paper was delivered to my door, I had a long string of e-mails from news groups and organizations announcing the decision in the New York same-sex marriage case. Once again, a major defeat. Over the next weeks, a few more piled up. In the last dozen years, in almost every one of the fifty states, overwhelming majorities in state legislatures or lopsided votes in ballot referenda have reaffirmed that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
Even the few victories for seekers of the right to marry have morphed into defeats. Legislators and voters undid favorable court opinions in Hawaii and Alaska. And, thanks to the insistence of marriage activists that only the real thing will do, the enactment of civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut and marriage-type rights in California and New Jersey have come to seem like a consolation prize, a spruced-up version of inferiority.