Further Down the Slippery Slope
When the latest drive to legitimate homosexual marriage began, one of the arguments used against it was this, spoken by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum:
If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.He was blasted and excoriated without mercy by those pushing the agenda. "Wrong, wrong, wrong," they cried. "This is different."
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Polygamists in Utah are now doing just that, using the same law that homosexual activists used to extend their rights.
Polygamists are citing the U.S. Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas (2003) ruling to challenge marriage laws. In Utah, the ban on polygamy came under attack as civil rights attorney Brian Barnard brought a federal lawsuit, Bronson v. Swensen, No. 02:04-CV-0021, on January 12, 2004, against the state based in part on the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Lawrence.You can read some more here.
Two other attorneys have also referenced Lawrence in defending polygamists. The Arizona Daily Star cited convicted bigamist and child rapist Thomas Green, whose lawyer, John Bucher, argued in Utah v. Green that Green’s convictions should be thrown out in light of Lawrence.
I'm of split mind on this. One the one hand, marriage has been a bond used by society to keep issues of legitimacy and inheritance straight. It has also been a way to keep society stable. Using religion and the fear of eternal damnation kept the numbers and amount of straying low(-ish). So did the possibility of unintended pregnancy. Stable families are the best way to raise children, and so to be encouraged. I'm not aware of any societies in relatively modern times that have had homosexual marriage on a par with hetero-marriage.
On the other, things have changed. We have medicine to tell us who is related to whom. We have central depositories of records, accessible by computer and Internet, to keep inheritance straight. We have the Pill, to remove unintended pregnancy; and safe abortion to catch the ones the Pill doesn't.
Making democracy the basis of our government has also changed things. Instead of the family, represented by the father, being the basis of government participation and decision-making, we made it the individual. Our government must deal only with individuals, or it's not democratic. It can't favor some over others. Full participation requires it.
That basis fueled a lot of social changes. Women have entered every area of society, which is good. Religion, seen as a tool of oppression, began to lose influence. The fundamental punishment behind marriage lost its power and so marriage lost its iron grip.
It has all come to where we are today: Marriage now is a contract between people, negotiable and breakable. Reduced to contract status, there's no reason it can't be between any parties willing to make one.
That's where we are today. Men and women put their own interests first. Marriage is so degraded in meaning it has become malleable to any who can push its edges. Thanks to a successful push by women to have the government and private enterprise take over some part of child-rearing (supported by men who were glad to be freed as well), raising well-adjusted kids isn't central to marriage any more. The argument for government licensing of marriage loses strength.
I supposed the libertarian in me should be happy, but I look at the teeming chaotic mess and worry for the future.