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Seems to me that a lot of the objections to gay marriage — and a number of other things — depend on respect for tradition. It’s something like “Our traditions give us a good way of life. Changing it to any large degree could risk losing large parts of it.”

(This viewpoint isn’t against all change. For instance, change is okay if it means changing things back from how they are now to the way that they traditionally were. Or a change is okay if it allows us to preserve or revive traditions — for instance, using new media to promote old-fashioned values.)

The anti-gays have a point: Change does threaten traditions that are among the underpinnings and foundations of our way of life.

But I differ from them in two big ways.

First is how much a change will threaten a tradition. When all-white, all-male, all-Christian universities began diversifying, I’m sure that traditionalists predicted the complete downfall of those schools. The schools changed, but not as much as the traditionalists feared.

Then there’s the content of the tradition. Judaism and Christianity traditionally condemn gay relations as sinful and shameful but praise marriage as respectable and honorable. So permitting gay marriage means treating something awful as if it were wonderful, and that’s unacceptable —

— if you believe in that aspect of traditional Judaism or Christianity. I don’t. Those faiths have traditions that I like, such as the Bible’s idea of loving thy neighbor and its vision in which every man shall live under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall make him afraid.

But forbidding consenting adults to marry? That’s too mean for me.

I think that legalizing and honoring gay marriage actually strengthens some traditions — for instance, the American tradition of letting people enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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