Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Further Talk on Proposition 8

Can the ruling striking down Proposition 8 go beyond restoring the freedom to marry to same-sex couples to bring about full marriage equality? Tom Thoens, as quoted in “Ask Matt Labash”

With the most recent court ruling {on gay marriage}, it would appear marriage to family members is now acceptable. If this ruling is allowed to prevail, could it result in brothers marrying brothers and sisters marrying sisters? It would also seem possible for all types of family relationships to be deemed acceptable as a new form of marriage. What am I missing in this ruling?

Labash responded…

But I’m missing how this ruling opens the door for brothers marrying brothers and sisters marrying sisters.

In the Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruling on Proposition 8, it was stated that the fundamental right to marriage can’t be denied without a good reason. Religion, personal distaste, and prejudice can’t used as the basis to deny marriage rights.

So while the case was about same-sex marriage, what basis is there to deny polygamy or consanguineous marriage that passes muster?

Due process and equal protection outweigh public sentiments.

Although he appears to be employing humor, the author actually starts to list some of the general positives to consanguineous marriage…

1. You come from similar backgrounds.

2. You have a much higher likelihood of getting along with your in-laws.

3. Over a lifetime, you would, as a couple, save a fortune on Mother’s Day cards, and you’d never have to argue about whose folks to visit at Christmas.

Seriously, some marriages fall apart because of conflicts between two different families, divided time and loyalties, etc. But consider the example of parents whose children marry. If they want, the elder and younger couple can spend every holiday (I’m using American English) together without the younger couple having to leave early or arrive late because they also need to spend time with another set of parents. Or, if the elder couple split and remarried others, there are just those two different households for the younger couple to deal with.

Every family has their own history and problems. If you grew up in the same family, you both have the same problems and history. You’re not taking on a whole new set of baggage, dealing with different traditions, etc. Even if you didn’t grow up in the same family, but reunited later, some of this advantage can be there.

My point is that there are tradeoffs to any relationship. If someone can find happiness with someone else, that is never to be pitied or dismissed. Parents may be horrified if their children fall in love (as they may be if their children come out as gay/lesbian or poly), but it could end up being a good thing for those parents.

Still, I doubt the law will ever permit it. While being gay is socially acceptable, incest is still not something to be celebrated publicly. To wit: there are plenty of gay bars, but to my knowledge, not a single incest bar.

Again, I know this is meant in humor, but there is a reason there are gay bars and no bars for consanguineous couples. Most bars are set up as places to meet new people, or socialize with a significant other, and maybe a friend and his or her SO. It becomes obvious why there is a need for a gay bar. Both kinds of bars are places that people who don’t know each other meet, or get to know each other better. Gay or straight, that is not needed in most consanguineous relationships because they already know each other.

But he does have a point about the public celebration. The perception that consensual consanguineous relationships only exist in poor, uneducated, rural families needs to be challenged. It is possible. It wasn’t all that long ago that people thought of gays as dirty, disordered deviants who met up in restrooms and the aforementioned bars, and that those bars were dives. There were laws against gays.

Lawrence v. Texas decriminalized same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriages started to become legal not soon after that. The general principles cited in Lawrence, Perry, and other decisions can and should be applied to bring about full marriage equality.
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