Progressives had long recognized that the family was profoundly at odds with their project. The problem was what to do about something that was at once so recalcitrant and so deeply embedded in human nature. Communist regimes initially tried to do away with it, but failed because of their hurry and the crudity of their methods, and they soon gave up the effort. Liberal modernity has made much more progress, as it has in other aspects of life. Its strategy of radicalism by degrees has transformed religion more profoundly than communism ever did, cut our connection to the past more effectively, and is discovering how to control our thoughts and redefine our social relations under cover of what is thought to be freedom.
Its mills grind slow but they grind exceeding fine. The attack on the family, less a conscious campaign than a natural consequence of liberal practices and understandings that have become ever more demanding, has proceeded in depth and on a broad front. Step by step it has chipped away at the functions, solidity, and legitimacy of the family. Divorce has been made easy, childcare professionalized, schooling extended, family meals replaced by fast food, and a combination of professional expertise and all-pervasive electronic entertainment become the universal guide and teacher. A feminism that denies all legitimate distinctions between the sexes, except those intended to counter assumed masculine privileges, has become official in government and all respectable institutions.And here is the central insight:
What “gay marriage” does is bring the attack on the family to a new level by destroying the basis of marriage in human nature. It means that marriage is a creature not of nature or natural law or metaphysics but of what particular people want and law provides for them. It thereby puts the belief that marriage is a pure human construction at the heart of social life.But liberalism is never permanent; it is always in a state of becoming. So what's next? Kalb knows that too:
However bad things are, they can always get worse. If marriage is a pure construction, then the family is simply a group of people who agree to associate with each other and have whatever status the law defines. If that’s so, it’s not obvious what’s special about the bond between parents and children. That too has been considered a matter of natural or metaphysical right, a view that is radically opposed to the ideal of individual choice on which liberalism is based. So why not view it instead as a creation of the state for public purposes, a sort of foster-parenting arrangement, to be administered as such in the interests of the child and the larger society?Children's rights. Strap yourself in.