McKay Coppins: Defending the faith: How Archbishop Dolan is redefining the battle over same sex marriage
While opponents of gay marriage may have suffered a defeat in New York, same-sex unions still aren't recognized in the vast majority of the country — and Archbishop Dolan believes he and his fellow New Yorkers can play a vital role in keeping it that way.
"We have to do a better job of getting our point across," Archbishop Dolan said. "I admit that even some of our Catholic people need convincing."
He points to philosophical arguments for traditional marriage, like those advanced by professor George at Princeton, as well as sociological studies that show children are better off being raised in a home with a father and a mother. But ultimately, Archbishop Dolan said, one of the most important points the movement can make is that their opposition to same-sex marriage is not an expression of hatred for gay people.
"They have our love, they have our acceptance, they deserve our dignity and respect," said Archbishop Dolan. "And so we can't allow this ever to be reduced to an anti-gay question."
If traditional marriage advocates can find the right tone in making their case, Archbishop Dolan believes they will ultimately come out on top, especially as the gritty realities of redefining marriage — divorce, custody battles, shifting standards of fidelity — complicate the romantic public perception of the campaign.
"I think now it's still new enough that it's the flavor of the month cause for the culturally elite," said Archbishop Dolan. "I would say it will be more analogous to the Equal Rights Amendment of 30 years ago. Everybody thought that was a shoo-in, and for a while it enjoyed a lot of dazzle, and all of a sudden it faded away."
Of course, some pollsters and political wonks might tell the archbishop he's being a tad optimistic. But to Archbishop Dolan, that's what the church has always been about: good cheer in daily life, strong effort in the face of adversity — and high hopes even after defeat.
"We will never give up on the ideal," he said.
McKay Coppins is a reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, covering politics, religion, and national affairs. He lives in New York City. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org