IT WAS A YEAR AGO last month that the Vermont law authorizing same-sex civil unions -- marriage by another name -- took effect, and The New York Times marked the anniversary with a story on July 25. "Quiet Anniversary for Civil Unions," the double headline announced. "Ceremonies for Gay Couples Have Blended Into Vermont Life." It was an upbeat report, and its message was clear: Civil unions are working just fine.
The story noted in passing that most Vermonters oppose the new law, and that many support a constitutional amendment confirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Presumably they have reasons for not wanting legal recognition conferred on homosexual couples, but the Times had no room to mention them. It did have room, though, to dismiss those reasons -- whatever they might be -- as meritless:
"The sky has not fallen,' Governor Howard Dean said, 'and the institution of marriage has not collapsed. None of the dire predictions have come true. . . . There was a big rhubarb, a lot of fear-mongering, and now people realize there was nothing to be afraid of.'"
In The Wall Street Journal two days later, much the same point was made by Jonathan Rauch, the esteemed Washington journalist and vice president of the Independent Gay Forum.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, he wrote, worry "that unyoking marriage from its traditional male-female definition will destroy or severely weaken it. But this is an empirical proposition, and there is reason to doubt it. Opponents of same-sex marriage have done a poor job of explaining why the health of heterosexual marriage depends on the exclusion of a small number of homosexuals." . . .