The moral equivalents of gay marriage

Let us skip all the usual rhetorical embellishments so that I can quickly get back to pretending that I care about my incoming finals.

Gay marriage advocates sneer or enrage at the comparison between gay marriage, polygamy, and incest (or more technically correct, consanguineous marriage.) I truly wonder why. Consanguineous marriage also involves two loving and consenting adults. And why stop at two? How about two women and three men loving one another in a lovely polygamous union?

Here is to preempt some of the common counterarguments:

I. Do not raise the biological argument against consanguineous marriage (i.e. inbreeding will cause harm to our gene pool), unless you also accept the following:

  1. Incest / consanguineous marriage is morally acceptable as long as birth control is used.
  2. People with known hereditary diseases should be banned from getting married.

II. Do not raise the equality argument against polygamy because

  1. The relationship is fundamentally consensual. As long as no one is forced into an inferior position, there is no reason to enforce equality in a relationship (gold-diggers would be extremely mad, would they not?)
  2. How do you define “equality” in marriage anyway? Would two men and two women all marrying one another constitute an “equal” marriage?

III. Also, do not bother raising the political / relativist argument (i.e. morality is whatever the majority decides to be) unless you accept that neither gay advocates nor homophobes are morally superior. If “right” is simply defined by “might”, i.e. whoever musters more ad, more opinion pieces, and ultimately, more votes, then homophobic ads or the recent North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage are completely justified. Both sides are exercising their “might”, and neither is more “right” than the other.

Note that I’m not saying gay, polygamous, or consanguineous marriage are right or wrong. I’m just saying that they are morally equivalent — be consistent and admit that if you accept one, you tolerate the others.

Comments and enlightenment are welcome.

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3 comments
  1. Mmvu said:

    Let us all say yes to polygamy. Because anything that can be theoretically imagined can also be perfectly translated into reality (which is why the job of a policymaker is so easy and great). Because historically and in cross-cultural comparison the majority of the cases of polygamy always involve at least two man, not one man and several women. Because those women always entered this kind of union according to their independent wills – not because of religion, parental force, or need for free/cheap domestic labor.
    Because when you legally recognize love between two individuals it is absolute must that you tolerate an institution that for hundreds of years has been exercising gender oppression and is still today part of a cause of economic underdevelopment in several countries.

    • anhqle said:

      But all of that — gender oppression, legislation difficulty, etc. — aren’t inherent in the basic concept of polygamy (marriage of many), right? That’s why I stressed that it is MORALLY equivalent, not politically, culturally, or practically so.

  2. Let us all say yes to polygamy. Because anything that can be theoretically imagined can also be perfectly translated into reality (which is why the job of a policymaker is so easy and great). Because historically and in cross-cultural comparison the majority of the cases of polygamy always involve at least two man, not one man and several women. Because those women always entered this kind of union according to their independent wills – not because of religion, parental force, or need for free/cheap domestic labor.
    Because when you legally recognize love between two individuals it is absolute must that you tolerate an institution that for hundreds of years has been exercising gender oppression and is still today part of a cause of economic underdevelopment in several countries.

    (không hiểu sao post comment rồi mà nó không chịu hiện ra O__O)

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