It is often asserted that we have no control over those whom we are attracted to and this may well be true. Right now, the kind of women who win contests like Miss America are a very different sort than those who won, even just 50 years ago. And this is quite different from the sort of women the ancient Greeks idolized or sculpted. In different times and different places, people have had different tastes as to whether to prefer fat or skinny, or well-toned, or any other number of adjectives. The question is, can these tastes be changed? If forums of single people are any indication, then the answer is no. People would rather be frustrated and lonely, than change their taste in the opposite sex. This is just as true of women as it is of men.
But it is equally true, that historically, sexual taste has shifted wildly.
What is unalterable for us, is easily shifting ground given time and the most meager of incentives. We do not appreciate the role of the foundation in keeping the structure secure.
Case in point, divorce used to be prohibitively hard to get. It took years and and extreme circumstances, and even then, it left a stigma. It was argued that there were a lot of people in bad marriages who had ought to be released from it. When there was suggestion that this would weaken the institution of marriage, it was laughed down. At most, this would be a few percent of people. This would not change how most people acted, it was thought.
The problem with this line of reasoning, is that it makes a classic blunder on a level with involvement in land wars in Asia. It fails to account for the marginal case. In most cases, the marginal case is not you at all. But every times a person on the marginal edge makes a decision, it progressively destigmatizes it for everyone else.
As I said concerning divorce laws, it was done with the best of intent. It was done, with fantastic and unassailable logic. Marriage was too steady a public institution to see change, it was thought. And yet, here we are with divorce at rates at ~50%, with increasingly large segments of the population not planning on marriage at all. What we can imagine happening is a very poor guide to what is possible.
Economists have found that when changing things, it is the marginal case the you must take into consideration. In so many ways, most of us reading this blog are the last ones to be affected, but by the time it gets to us, its momentum will be unfathomable.
Likewise, public welfare used to be solely for the use of families temporarily down on their luck, not unmarried mothers. It was argued, quite logically, that unmarried mothers should not be discriminated against. When it was suggested that this would lead to an increase in unwed mothers, that was seen as ludicrous – who would choose such a difficult thing for such a paltry sum? And yet, what do we have now? The most meager of incentives, has destigmatized this to the degree that some high schools have 1 in 7 female students pregnant.
My point here is not to discuss divorce law, nor welfare policy, but to point out the effect of changing incentives and stigmas.
If you care to read more, I strongly recommend an essay by Jane Galt, who made these points better than I could have.
But what is codified into law, has the stigma progressively removed from it – it comes to be seen as morally acceptable. What is accepted progressively becomes public taste.
In other words, unless we want to see a lot of heterosexual marriage replaced by homosexual marriage.
Marriage does matter and not just to the few percentage points that gay marriage would immediately affect. It is not the effect today that is worrisome. It is the effect 20, 30, 50 years from now. It will affect the institution of marriage, and even the meaning of what marriage itself is for.
Anything else, is kindly meant, but shortsighted.