Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stepping Onto the Slippery Slope

New York state has struck a blow for equality, so we are told, by legalizing gay marriage.

I'd like to register a dissent. This is not just about equality. If it were there'd be little reason to oppose granting homosexuals the right to legal marriage. For many who have struggled to get gay marriage passed into law it may be an equal rights issue, but for many others it's about preserving marriage.

As we've argued here before, once marriage is no longer to be regarded as one man uniting with one woman, once the gender of the people entering into the relationship no longer matters, then there's no longer any logical reason for insisting that the number of people matters, or for that matter, that they even have to be people.

Once we've crossed the threshold of erasing the gender distinction in marriage we've placed ourselves on a slippery slope and will slide ineluctably to a nadir where marriage will be anything anyone wants it to be.

Some object that this is preposterous, that no one will want to legalize polyamory (group marriage), polygyny (multiple wives), polyandry (multiple husbands), or most bizarre, interspecies marriage. The objection is naive. There are already groups advocating all of these things and having eliminated the traditional gender distinction, there remains no logical, non-arbitrary basis to prevent society from going further if someone has the financial resources to press the matter in the courts and legislatures.

It's unfortunate that our politicians don't seem to care about the long-term consequences of what they're doing to marriage, but it's not surprising. None of the media discussion on the issue seems to be concerned with what transforming marriage portends for the future either.