Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gay marriage is a a slippery slope, yet not so steep

I see two broad arguments in favor of allowing gay marriage.  One is equality.  The other is individual choice and freedom to enter contracts.

The first is tied up in all manner of moral and ethical issues.  I don't see what I can contribute to the discussion, as I see it as a personal matter.  Someone either sees gay people as people who are gay and therefore people with the accompanying rights, or they do not.  A few might be in transition, asking questions and thinking about it, but only their own thoughts and experiences can change them.

The second one, the manner of liberty, is the slippery slope.  At its heart is the notion that individuals may enter into a contract without restriction, as long as it does not harm others.  I see two potential sources of harm to others.  One would be children raised by gay couples turning out worse than those raised by straight couples.  There is no evidence to support this and there is no similar standard in straight marriages, nor is marriage even based on child-rearing.  The second potential source of harm stems from employers and taxpayers shouldering the burden of extended marriage benefits, such as pensions, healthcare, and government entitlements.  However this 'harm' stems not from gay marriage but from marriage in general and how our laws treat it.  The same harm exists in straight marriage.  There is a third category, of moral outrage or decay or decency, but those are all of little legal weight and amount to little more than imposing one's perspective on others.

Getting back to the contract, the inevitable question arises: Why only two people?  The contract perspective seems to allow polygamy as well.  That's the slippery slope: from gay marriage to polygamy.  Then what?  Given that we've gotten here on a slope of contract rights, nothing else.  Animals cannot sign contracts.  Children cannot either.  The contract perspective on gay marriage is not a slippery slope to bestiality and pedophilia, only to polygamy.

That leads to the question: What's wrong with polygamy?  In the abstract, perhaps not much (I have raised one issue in the past), though particular cases can turn out badly.  I suspect that legal and social rejection of polygamy means that the few people who engage in it are inevitably going to be unusual in some way, for better or worse.  If people think that gay marriage is the slippery slope to polygamy, fine.  If that's the case, then figure out what's wrong with polygamy.  Defeat it in society and the courts.  If polygamy is the actual problem, then fight it, not committed monogamous couples.


Ephemeron said...

"Then what? Given that we've gotten here on a slope of contract rights, nothing else. Animals cannot sign contracts. Children cannot either."

Companies can. So can nations.

Klepsacovic said...

Given the historical use of marriage to unite political/geographic groups, maybe things are just going full circle.

I do think it is possible to differentiate between living, autonomous beings and concepts. Hopefully the Supreme Court will notice that distinction next time it is asked the implications of corporations personhood.