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Friday, January 13, 2006

Craig Westover v Captain Ed

Captain Ed gives the standard slippery slope rant suggesting that gay marriage leads to polygamy, and suggesting current happenings in Canada back this up. Craig Westover responds to Captain Ed's points.

First and foremost the conservative approach definitively acknowledges that the authority to define marriage rests with the legislative branch of government, not the courts. The liberal/Canadian approach is to use the courts to mandate changes in marriage laws. Independent of same-sex marriage, the issue is one of separation of powers; arguing the issue based on one’s visceral reaction to same-sex relationships diminishes the importance of the separation of powers issue.

Second, focusing on same-sex marriage, same sex marriage requires no extension or change of marriage laws or benefits. Marriage is still between two people. No new privileges are required for same-sex couples that don’t already exist for opposite-sex couples. Other than eliminating the restriction on gender, there is no required change in marriage law.

To define a "polygamous marriage," definite changes must be made, as the Canadian study recommends. There must be an extension of benefits. The law must address and untangle multiple partner family relationships. There must be massive changes in marriage law. The prospects for civil litigation increase geometrically.

Moreover, the benefits to society of two-person committed relationships is a conservative reason for supporting marriage. Same-sex marriage extends that societal benefit. Discounting gay activists, who are out to destroy marriage because of their political philosophy not their sexual orientation, same-sex partners that seek the spiritual commitment that comes from "marriage" affirm, not deny marriage tradition.

Polygamy does none of that. It complicates the legal system. Unlike incorporating same-sex couples into the existing marriage construct, polygamous marriage forms a whole new construct. Recognizing that the legislature has the sole authority to define marriage, there is no obligation to recognize polygamous relationships simply because same-sex marriage might be recognized. They are disconnected issues.

Along the same lines, polygamous marriage can be debated right now irrespective of the status of same-sex marriage. It's a heterosexual activity, that produces lots of children -- something opponents of same-sex marriage argue such relationships cannot -- so maybe it's a good thing. I am being factious, but the point is valid -- same-sex marriage has more in common with traditional marriage than it does with polygamous marriage.

Read Craig's whole post. Dale Carpenter wrote a column addressing this issue which is available at the Independent Gay Forum.