CP: Which makes me wonder if the hysteria we're seeing now is kind of the death throes of that political movement.
Coontz: Yes, definitely that's true. For many people who subconsciously recognize that these changes are not going to be reversed, gay and lesbian marriage is the line in the sand that they draw: "Well at least we can stop them from marrying." It's a hollow line in the sand. After all, many people say every family should have a male and a female, but the majority of families that don't have a male and a female are heterosexual families.
Stephanie Coontz: "You keep getting this wishful thinking that women will give up their jobs and go back to the home, at least while they are mothers. That is not going to happen."
For some people this has become a way of coping with the fact that they're really not going to be able to change the fact that unwed motherhood, unmarried cohabitation, and divorce are here to stay. They are pretending to themselves that they can halt at least some of the change if they deny the right to marry to gays and lesbians.
CP: Which is such fabulous displacement when you think about all of the other things that are truly threatening families.
Coontz: Absolutely. Denying marriage to gays and lesbians becomes this sort of simplistic way of saying, "Okay, that's our goal. And if we reach that goal, we won't have to deal with the fact that single-parent families need support, that two-parent families--male and female two-parent families--are under horrendous stress and are being driven to divorce by the lack of family-friendly workplace policies." This is a magic solution to all that. And I mean that, it is magical thinking.