The Defense of Marriage Act came after the sexual revolution, no-fault divorce, legal abortion and the social acceptance extended toward unmarried couples sharing a household and toward single motherhood.

What was there left to defend?

We heterosexuals have played so fast and loose with all the elements of marriage that possibly our moral sensibilities on this issue are too blunted to be trusted. If that is the case, are we ready to speak to gay marriage and its potential impact for either good or ill?

One thing I do see clearly: The argument that nice people in loving relationships are entitled to get married is specious.

Marriage is not a reward for good behavior. Nor is marriage about receiving state or federal benefits, which benefits are subject to change at any point in the future.

And it is much too soon to understand the impact being raised by a gay couple may have on a child. If, a few decades from now, we come to realize harm was done, how will we act on that knowledge?

It can be very easy to get caught up in the feel-good mode that the barrage of pictures of loving gay couples may create. But I question any cause that depends so heavily on happy pictures, feel-good stories and specious arguments for its support. I am concerned about any difficult-to-reverse change that may result from too little thoughtful dialogue and reflection.

Zoe Goody is a resident of Cape Elizabeth.