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Monday, December 27, 2010

A Basic Freedom

William Saletan had more to say over at Slate.com. This was prompted by the beautiful death of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The distinction between marriage and partnership isn't the only institution being challenged. Technically, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Manual for Courts-Martial prohibit sodomy, bigamy, adultery, "wrongful" cohabitation, and incest.

I fail to see why a government employer such as the military should be able to tell an employee how to conduct their love lives. Rape, assault, molestation of minors should all remain illegal. But it should not the the employer’s concern if a soldier loves more than one other consenting adult, or if those adults are male, female, or have a close relation to the soldier. There shouldn’t be laws against such relationships inside or outside of the military.

Sodomy and adultery laws do seem outdated and silly. But if those laws are repealed on the grounds that consensual sex is private, it's hard to explain why the reform shouldn't extend to other laws.

It is hard to explain because those who try to explain it contradict themselves or invoke bigotry, but try not to admit it.

After quoting me, he goes on to write…

Laugh or snort if you want to, but it's a serious question. If DADT repealers are correct that sex is a matter of personal liberty and it doesn't matter "who you love," why shouldn't that defense cover polyamory and sibling couples?

There isn’t a good reason, so it should cover them.

You can argue that homosexuality is quite different. But to make that case, you have to go beyond privacy and consent. You have to draw moral distinctions.

Homosexuality isn't just a matter of who you love. It's a matter of who you are. And it's compatible with traditional sexual values.

First of all, why should an employer care whether or not something is compatible with “tradional sexual values?” Secondly, there is a long, ongoing tradition of polyamory, polygamy, and consensual consanguineous relationships.

You don't choose to be gay. You just are gay.

At least some people who are polyamorous (some of whom are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, by the way) didn’t choose to be polyamorous either. Polyamory is as natural to them as being straight or being gay. Some people in consanguineous relationships (again, they may be lesbian, gay, or straight) swear on their life (literally, given what they have to go through) that nothing else compares. While these two categories are not currently recognized mainstream as categories of sexual orientation, they are as much of what makes these people and their relationships who and what they are as gender.

A gay person can be just as faithful and monogamous as a straight person.

Why is monogamy important? It is assumed by the writer that it is, without an explanation being given. Right now, a soldier can have a series of ten short sexual relationships. Why is that any better than the solider having three wives and only having sex with those three wives?

If the fall of DADT is ultimately interpreted this way - as a rethinking of homosexuality, not of sexual morals generally - it won't satisfy libertines or libertarians. But culturally, it might prove easier to digest.

I give the culture more credit than that. More people are open to equality than a lot of people think. Let our soldiers, and the rest of the people, make their own decisions about who they will love, and don’t make them second-class citizens because of it.

Of course “straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual” is a different set of categories from “celibate, monogamous, polyamorous, etc.” and “exogamous, endogamous, and consanguineous.” but the military shouldn’t be concerned about any of those categories. Someone can be gay, celibate, and have endogamous attractions. Or, someone can be straight, polyamorous, and exogamous. What matters is how they do their job. Freely choosing the person or person(s) they love should be their basic freedom.
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