A post on the American Prospect site by Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield is getting a lot of attention, especially from opponents of same-sex marriage, like Princeton’s Robert George, who believe the Left has been unfairly maligning them as scaremongers for years. Greenfield, who supports same-sex marriage, thinks it’s time to confess something: Conservatives who argued that recognizing same-sex marriage logically implied the recognition of incestuous and polygamous marriages were right all along:
You know those opponents of marriage equality who said government approval of same-sex marriage might erode bans on polygamous and incestuous marriages? They’re right. As a matter of constitutional rationale, there is indeed a slippery slope between recognizing same-sex marriages and allowing marriages among more than two people and between consenting adults who are related. If we don’t want to go there, we need to come up with distinctions that we have not yet articulated well.
Greenfield attempts to come up with distinctions–moral opprobrium, child welfare, coercion, the immutability of sexual orientation, lack of representation in the political process–but concludes that none of them really works. Here’s his final paragraph:
If these distinctions do not hold water, we have two options. We can continue to search for differences that make sense as a matter of constitutional principle. Or we can fess up. We can admit our arguments in favor of marriage equality inexorably lead us to a broader battle in favor of allowing people to define their marriages, and their families, by their own lights.
A signal of marriage wars yet to come.