Proponents of Washington State’s same-sex marriage law–being challenged this fall by Referendum 74–like to characterize the issue at stake as one of “marriage equality.” If they really believe that, they can’t have spent more than about five minutes thinking about it.
Historically, society has encouraged marriage between a man and a woman. Why? More often than not, it makes babies. And society needs babies. When our birth rate drops below the replacement level, for example, our economy tanks. But babies need long-term care, both physical and emotional. And in most cases the people best equipped and most inclined to provide it are the baby’s biological parents. Legal marriage has been at least as much about the needs of the children as it has been about the desires of the principals.
But revisionists argue that marriage is primarily about sexual love, not children. That marriage is not about anything so mundane as the social good. That it’s primarily about the needs and desires of the people in it. That it’s about treating all relationships equally.
But then they don’t.
Consensual incest between adults is already legal in China, France, Israel, the Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Turkey, according to a 2007 study by Germany’s Max Planck Institute.
At the Toronto Film Festival last month, writer-director Nick Cassavetes’s film, Yellow, featured a main character who had an affair with her brother. “You know what?” said Cassavetes.
This whole movie is about judgment, and lack of it, and doing what you want.
Who gives a shit if people judge you? I’m not saying this is an absolute but in a way, if you’re not having kids – who gives a damn? Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want?
When David Epstein, a professor at Columbia University, was charged with incest with his adult daughter in 2010, his attorney, Matthew Galluzzo, argued:
It’s OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home. How is this so different?
Or is it, in the eyes of marriage equality proponents? It’s a question that needs answering.
But really, isn’t the criminalization of sex with minors that the Court mentioned just a cultural hang-up of ours?
Child marriage is a recognized part of sharia law. Ten-year-old girls marry legally in Saudi Arabia. And Iran is considering dropping the marriageable age for girls to nine. Ten million girls a year are married under the age of 18. And that number is expected to jump to 100 million by 2021.
When raising children in a stable environment is a key social end of marriage, clearly letting the children themselves marry is counterproductive. But once we stop focusing on the needs of children and start focusing on the desires of the marriage partners themselves, the prohibition against child marriage becomes arbitrary.
Sexual relationships involving three or more people are legally recognized in The Netherlands.The first civil union of three partners–between two bisexual woman and a heterosexual man–was registered there in September, 2005.
In May, 2012, South Australian Greens Party Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young sponsored a bill to legalize gay marriage in Australia. The name of the political campaign is Australian Marriage Equality (AME). So Australian polyamorists were understandably outraged when Hanson-Young said marriage “should involve only two consenting adults.”
If sexual love is the criterion for what should be legal, then Hanson-Young and AME are hypocrites. And restricting marriage to couples is entirely arbitrary and discriminatory.
O-o-o-o-or the marriage equality folks are seasoned politicians. They know to boil the frog slowly.
Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, whom the New Yorker once called the most influential philosopher alive, has no problem with human-animal sexual relationships. In a 2004 interview, he told a reporter who asked about bestiality:
I would ask, “What’s holding you back from a more fulfilling relationship?” (But) it’s not wrong inherently in a moral sense.
Singer has written at some length, and more favorably, about human-animal sexual relationships in “Heavy Petting.” (Originally written for a pornography e-zine, the essay is a favorable review of a book extolling bestiality.)
Same-sex marriage laws arbitrarily move just one of the traditional boundaries of marriage while leaving all the others intact. But it’s breathtakingly arbitrary.
Once we start redefining marriage, there’s no logical place to stop. Not the partners’ sex. Or close blood relationship. Or age. Or number. Or even genus and species. All boundaries are smashed, and anything goes.
And I do mean anything.
If you live in Washington State, please join me in voting Reject on Referendum 74. Don’t redefine marriage.