A Time Essay Gay Marriage Essay Research

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A Time Essay Gay Marriage Essay, Research Paper If gay marriages are O.K., then what about polygamy? Or incest? The House of Representatives may have passed legislation last week opposing gay marriage, but the people will soon be trumped by the courts. In September the judges of the Hawaii Supreme Court are expected to legalize gay marriage. Once done there, gay marriage–like quickie Nevada divorces–will have to be recognized “under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution” throughout the rest of the U.S. Gay marriage is coming. Should it? For the time being, marriage is defined as the union 1) of two people 2) of the opposite sex. Gay-marriage advocates claim that restriction No. 2 is discriminatory, a product of mere habit or tradition or, worse,

prejudice. But what about restriction No. 1? If it is blind tradition or rank prejudice to insist that those who marry be of the opposite sex, is it not blind tradition or rank prejudice to insist that those who marry be just two? In other words, if marriage is redefined to include two men in love, on what possible principled grounds can it be denied to three men in love? This is traditionally called the polygamy challenge, but polygamy–one man marrying more than one woman–is the wrong way to pose the question. Polygamy, with its rank inequality and female subservience, is too easy a target. It invites exploitation of and degrading competition among wives, with often baleful social and familial consequences. (For those in doubt on this question, see Genesis: 26-35 on Joseph

and his multimothered brothers.) The question is better posed by imagining three people of the same sex in love with one another and wanting their love to be legally recognized and socially sanctioned by marriage. Why not? Andrew Sullivan, author of Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality, offers this riposte to what he calls the polygamy diversion (New Republic, June 7): homosexuality is a “state,” while polygamy is merely “an activity.” Homosexuality is “morally and psychologically” superior to polygamy. Thus it deserves the state sanction of marriage, whereas polygamy does not. But this distinction between state and activity makes no sense for same-sex love (even if you accept it for opposite-sex love). If John and Jim love each other, why is this an

expression of some kind of existential state, while if John and Jim and Jack all love each other, this is a mere activity? And why is the impulse to join with two people “morally and psychologically inferior” to the impulse to join with one? Because, insists Sullivan, homosexuality “occupies a deeper level of human consciousness than a polygamous impulse.” Interesting: this is exactly the kind of moral hierarchy among sexual practices that homosexual advocates decry as arbitrary and prejudiced. Finding, based on little more than “almost everyone seems to accept,” the moral and psychological inferiority of polygamy, Sullivan would deny the validity of polygamist marriage. Well, it happens that most Americans, finding homosexuality morally and psychologically inferior

to heterosexuality, would correspondingly deny the validity of homosexual marriage. Yet when they do, the gay-marriage advocates charge bigotry and discrimination. Or consider another restriction built into the traditional definition of marriage: that the married couple be unrelated to each other. The Kings and Queens of Europe defied this taboo, merrily marrying their cousins, with tragic genetic consequences for their offspring. For gay marriage there are no such genetic consequences. The child of a gay couple would either be adopted or the biological product of only one parent. Therefore the fundamental basis for the incest taboo disappears in gay marriage. Do gay-marriage advocates propose to permit the marriage of, say, two brothers, or of a mother and her (adult) daughter?