Libertarians (who often pose as conservatives) have been among the first to flee the fight for marriage. They think that all they need to adequately defend individualism is, well, a defense of individualism. What they don't realize is that by abandoning mediating institutions like the family, they are unwittingly countenancing the deterioration of institutions as mediating institutions. And insofar as the mediating role of institutions like marriage is compromised, the less of a buffer exists between the individual and the state. And, since in any brute confrontation between the individual and the state the individual ultimately loses, the libertarian social agenda (or lack of it) ultimately endangers the very individualism they purport to stand for.
Patrick Deneen at Front Porch Republic comments on some of the reasons for this:
But taking gay marriage as one of a number of general devotions of a progressive class, we see an overarching commitment to weakening and ultimately rendering wholly “voluntarist” any intermediary bonds that exist between individuals, of equalizing, rationalizing, and “liberating” the individual from chance, contingency, and unchosen obligations. Liberal theory has long struggled with the brute natural basis of families and child-bearing, the human association most closely grounded in nature, and hence, not easily subject to the liberal logic of individualistic voluntarism, on the one hand, and primary membership in the State, on the other. Milbank points out that gay marriage is a deepening of an already pervasive technological remaking of these elemental relationships.
Read the rest here.