Marriage Equality Update

Ken AshfordSex/Morality/Family ValuesLeave a Comment

In New Hampshire: governor still mulling over signing the bill [UPDATE: Nope.  It still requires some signatures from Senate and House leaders — bureaucracy, on other words.  It hasn't even reached the gov's desk.]

In New York: NY state assembly passed marriage equality bill yesterday.

Media Matters has a nice compilation of the right-wing pushback, complete with their "slippery slope" argument:

Let me address the slippery slope argument (again), because it just doesn't seem to die.

First of all, as with all slippery slope arguments, there's no guarantee that just because X happens, Y is inevitable. 

That's because society is not comprised of idiots. The slippery slope argument assumes that society and the law can't make distinctions between situations that are different from one another.

The truth is, we can tell apples from oranges. For example, women got the right to vote, but that did not automatically mean that infants were next to get that right.  Where was the slippery slope there?  It simply didn't exist.

Sure, in the wake of universal acceptance of gay marriage, others (VERY VERY few, I might add) could argue that they want to marry their relatives or have multiple legal spouses.  But those arguments would have to be separately evaluated.

The slippery slope starts to get UNslippery when you address these other marriage arrangements head-on.  There are compelling reasons to ban incestuous and polygamous marriages, including genetic concerns about the children of incestuous marriages, the importance of preventing coercion and abuse within families, the increased likelihood of fraudulent (i.e., unloving) unions merely intending to take advantage of laws favoring married people (tax breaks, etc.), and concerns about how young girls and women have fared historically under polygamy.

Also, with polygamy, there is a clear community harm.  Historically, polygamy tends to be one man with many wives; it therefore takes many more women than men out of the marriage pool. This leaves heterosexual men with fewer marriage opportunities. Unattached men with poor marital prospects destabilize societies, and large numbers of such men in a society require strong mechanisms of state control to rein them in.  (Polygamy would also be a bitch to administrate from a government standpoint.)

By contrast, where is the compelling reason to bar same-sex couples from marriage?  It doesn't exist.  Permitting marriages of same-sex couples strengthens families and harms no individual.  Nor does it create a communal harm; in fact, just the opposite — gay marriage helps ensure marriageable partners for everyone; polygamy does the opposite.

This is why you can't equate gay marriage with polygamy or other forms of marriage.  Gay marriage harms no individual, takes advantage of no sub-class, is not prone to "sham" marriages, and creates no societal harm.  Can any of that be said for polygamous and incestuous marriages?  Absolutely not, and historical evidence bears this out.  It is those factors which prevent the slope from being slippery.

So, bringing up polygamy, incest and turtle-marriage is simply a dodge — an attempt to distract people from the injustice of denying same-sex couples the same opportunity to marry that different-sex couples want to preserve for themselves.