Perhaps this is merely a marriage (no pun intended) of convenience, an instance of “strange bedfellows.” However, a deeper connection is discernible. Long before the current debate over gay marriage, modern capitalism required the redefinition of the family and marriage. Gay marriage is only the logical conclusion of a long process of the redefinition of marriage into a largely private, interpersonal bond whose main purpose is the self-actualization and personal fulfillment of the contracting individuals, to be made and remade at the convenience of both or even one of the contracting parties.
Marriage had to be redefined by the demands of the modern economy, no longer a bond between man and woman, each a part of intertwined extended families, embedded in a community rooted in multiple generations of memory, joined together as contributors to the future of that community by the generation of new life, bound by the self-sacrificial acceptance of debt to the past and obligation to the future. Marriage was not merely, and perhaps even not primarily, about the “love” of the two (or, increasingly, more) individuals—important as that certainly was and is. Rather—as the publishing of the “banns” indicates—it was the entry of a new family into the life of a community—and the community was thought to have a say in whether the marriage should proceed (“If anyone should have any cause….”).
To liberate individuals from such deep commitments to people, place, and generations, marriage had to be redefined in accordance with our self-conception as utility-maximizing consumers, free agents who are not permanently locked into any arrangements that might not prove to be continuously pleasing or rewarding (or, which forestall other, better arrangements). Defined today as one of our “rights” (rather than as part of our duty), marriage should be like a consumer good—something that satisfies us, in accordance with our desires. It does not partake of a moral and natural and communal and sacramental ecology. Rather, it is part of our dominant marketplace of choice, a marketplace extensively constructed by the modern economic realm, and in which the modern corporation flourishes. The Grammy’s showed modern marriage in its purest redefined form: the focus was on countless couples, unfamiliar with each other, before an assembly of total strangers and televised on commercial television which exists to sell things.
The modern corporation and modern marriage are born of the same philosophical roots: rootless individuals seeking self-gratification in whatever way they see fit, short of “harming” another. Marriage is just another consumer choice, with the added advantage of tax benefits (it’s especially interesting to witness the Left’s insistence on gay marriage as a means for wealthy, oft-childless homosexuals to avoid inheritance taxes. After all, U.S v. Windsor wasn’t about “love,” it was about money). Corporations thus defend gay marriage for the same reason (and using the same tactics) they seek to undermine unions, environmental regulations, and tax policy—most obviously short-term gain, but more deeply, a society that needs to be remade in such a way that short-term gain seems the only game left in town: a thoroughly mobile society devoted to personal satisfaction, composed of individuals whose relationships are fungible and who have no strong relationship to place, history, or the generations stretching between the past and the future.
The paleo knob set to 11.