A final line in the sand drawn by conservatives: As the body of research in support of same-sex marriage continues to grow, the case in favour of it becomes stronger. In the leftish circles I move in, Michael Kirby is regarded as something of a progressive demigod; if he says something, then the logic must be unassailable. Had they done so, London to a brick, state sanctioned same-sex marriage would be a reality now. Does it matter at all that the prospects for similar reforms in India and China are so remote that it is questionable whether they may ever happen? But as all these cases imply, even if formal legal equality could be perfected, it would be no substitute for marriage because of what marriage means. We need to ask what we mean by "equal" here. Many conservatives maintain that it is more recent changes following sexual revolution that has done the real damage to marriage. They work well in a pluralistic society because they embody a certain kind of neutrality on what is good and virtuous. Because a particular relationship is unable to function normally - that is, with all the functions intrinsic to that relationship - does not as a result confer the same status on a relationship that by its nature cannot possibly be open to any of those functions. But it doesn't add up to "marriage equality" in any pure sense. But I was not being deliberately tendentious. From the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in through to President Barack Obama's statement that he believes in gay marriage, America now allows its gay citizens to say 'I do' instead of 'I can't. He suggested that one way - by no means the only way - of clarifying what is at stake with same-sex marriage, was to apply an older, Aristotelian concept of justice.