Determining a bad idea’s antecedents usually is messy and often is impossible. Just when did a particular bad idea begin? Seldom is there an analogue to Athena coming fully formed from the forehead of Zeus.
Usually one bad idea derives from an earlier bad idea, which in turn derives from still earlier bad ideas. In order not to get lost in a long series that disappears into the mists of pre-history, you need to choose a point at which you can say, “For purposes of discussion, I count this as the origin of this bad idea.”
I’m going to blame last week’s same-sex marriage decision on the poet John Milton. Let me explain.
I don’t at all mean that Milton or any of his contemporaries or anyone for centuries following endorsed or even thought of same-sex marriage...