Thursday, March 24, 2005

Family Law and Incest...

If gay marriage is legalized, will it inevitably lead to the legalization of other sorts of marital arrangements? There is an interesting slippery slope argument here. And I don't think it's a foolish one.

The arguments in favor of gay marriage are largely being couched in terms of individual rights and the right to freely associate with other individuals. If one individual (who happens to be a woman) wants to legally contract with another (who happens to be a man), and if rights of contract are based on individual rights, then what grounds does the law have to prevent one individual (who happens to be a man) from marrying another individual (who happens to be a man)? But, as far as incest is concerned...If all these marrying rights are individually based, then what is to stop one individual (who happens to be a daughter) from marrying another individual (who happens to be her father)? There's no end to it.

But the legalization of incest would be at the bottom of the slippery slope. First gay marriage...which looks to be half way there. Next, polyamory. Which just got a big proponent in the way of University of Chicago Law School professor Elizabeth F. Emens. She just put out a paper ("Monogamy's Law: Compulsory Monogamy and Polyamorous Existence" in Volume 29, Number 2 of The New York University Review of Law and Social Change) arguing forcefully for the legalization of polyamory--multiple person marriages. My guess is that this will be the start of something big, and that if gay marriage isn't stopped soon, we will very quickly slide down the slope to legalized incest. How quickly? A generation. Maybe 30 years. Fast in legal terms. You can find a good article about it here, by Stanley Kurtz.

Now, not being involved in incest personally, and not being actually attracted to anyone in my own family, I am not the best person to be arguing for the interests of those who would like to legalize adult incest. In fact, I see lots of potential problems, as hinted at by my last post on Cousin Marriages. But I'm confident that if gay marriage goes through, polyamory will be next, and then adult incest. There just won't be any legal ground on which to oppose it.


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