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Until very recently, no society had seen marriage as anything other than a conjugal partnership: a male-female union. What Is Marriage? identifies and defends the reasons for this historic consensus and shows why redefining civil marriage as something other than the conjugal union of husband and wife is a mistake. Originally published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, this book's core argument quickly became the year's most widely read essay on the most prominent scholarly network in the social sciences. Since then, it has been cited and debated by scholars and activists throughout the world as the most formidable defense of the tradition ever written. Now revamped, expanded, and vastly enhanced, What Is Marriage? stands poised to meet its moment as few books of this generation have. Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George offer a devastating critique of the idea that equality requires redefining marriage. They show why both sides must first answer the question of what marriage really is. They defend the principle that marriage, as a comprehensive union of mind and body ordered to family life, unites a man and a woman as husband and wife, and they document the social value of applying this principle in law. Most compellingly, they show that those who embrace same-sex civil marriage leave no firm ground--none--for not recognizing every relationship describable in polite English, including polyamorous sexual unions, and that enshrining their view would further erode the norms of marriage, and hence the common good. Finally, What Is Marriage? decisively answers common objections: that the historic view is rooted in bigotry, like laws forbidding interracial marriage; that it is callous to people's needs; that it can't show the harm of recognizing same-sex couplings or the point of recognizing infertile ones; and that it treats a mere "social construct" as if it were natural or an unreasoned religious view as if it were rational.
About the Author
Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He has been chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and has served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the President's Council on Bioethics. He was a Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore, he holds J.D. and M.T.S. degrees from Harvard University and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., D.C.L., and D.Litt. from Oxford University, in addition to twenty-one honorary doctorates. He is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal. Sherif Girgis is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. student in philosophy at Princeton. He has served as law clerk to Judge Thomas Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and to Justice Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court of the United States. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, a B.Phil. in philosophy from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and a bachelor's degree in philosophy with highest honors from Princeton. He is a coauthor of Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination (2017) and of several book chapters and academic articles in law and philosophy journals. The views expressed in this book and his other work are his own and not those of his law firm Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and the founder and editor-in-chief of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, New Jersey. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, and he received his doctoral degree in political philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (2018) and Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (2015), and he is a coauthor of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (2012) and Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination (2017).