Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 22:45:36 -0400

From: Ron Butters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Krauthammer column&response

Charles Krauthammer's specious comparison of same-sex marriage to polygamy

and incest should not hold up in court, because precisely the same arguments

have been discredited in overturning state laws forbidding interracial

marriage as "wrong or unnatural or perhaps harmful." If the law forbids John

to marry Sal because John is already married to Jane, John has a choice: he

can divorce Jane and marry Sal. But if the law forbids John to marry Sal

because the couple are of different races or the same sex, John has NO

choice, since John can't change his race, nor can he change his sex and still

be John. Granted, if Sal is John's sister (or brother) John also has no

choice. But, as Krauthammer points out, heterosexual incest can be forbidden

on such grounds as genetic danger; for the law to be applied fairly to all,

it would have to forbid homosexual incest as well (just as it now forbids

incest of persons beyond child-bearing age). A judge would have to be only a

tiny bit less dumb than Charles Krauthammer pretends to be to find a way to

allow same-sex marriages on constitutional grounds while excluding polygamy

and incest.

Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 1:04 PM EDT

From: BCS41


TIME Magazine

Time & Life Bldg.-Rockefeller Ctr.,New York,NY,10020

Send letters to the editor to:

FAX: Fax 212-522-0601


July 22, 1996 issue

ESSAY, page 102, by Charles Krauthammer


* If gay marriages are O.K., then what about polygamy? Or incest?

The House of Representatives may have passed legislation last week

opposing gay marriage, but the people will soon be trumped by the courts. In

September the judges of the Hawaii Supreme Court are expected to legalize gay

marriage. Once done there, gay marriage-like quickie Nevada divorces-will

have to be recognized "under the full faith and credit clause of the

Constitution" throughout the rest of the U.S.

Gay marriage is coming. Should it?

For the time being, marriage is defined as the union 1) of two people 2)

of the opposite sex. Gay-marriage advocates claim that restriction No. 2 is

discriminatory, a product of mere habit or tradition or, worse, prejudice.

But what about restriction No. 1? If it is blind tradition or rank prejudice

to insist that those who marry be of the opposite sex, is it not blind

tradition or rank prejudice to insist that those who marry be just two?

In other words, if marriage is redefined to include two men in love, on

what possible principled grounds can it be denied to three men in love?

This is traditionally called the polygamy challenge, but polygamy-one man

marrying more than one woman-is the wrong way to pose the question.

Polygamy, with its rank inequality and female subservience, is too easy a

target. It invites exploitation of and degrading competition among wives,

mith often baleful social and familial consequences. (For those in doubt on

this question, see Genesis: 26-35 on Joseph and his multimothered brothers.)

The question is better posed by imagining three people of the same sex in

love with one another and wanting their love to be legally recognized and

socially sanctioned by marriage.

Why not? Andrew Sullivan, author of Virtually Normal: An Argument About

Homosexuality, offers this riposte to what he calls the polygamy diversion

(New Republic, June 7): homosexuality is a "state," while polygamy is merely

"an activity." Homosexuality is "morally and psychologically" superior to

polygamy. Thus it deserves the state sanction of marriage, whereas polygamy

does not.

But this distinction between state and activity makes no sense for same-sex

love (even if you accept it for opposite-sex love). If John and Jim love

each other, why is this an expression of some kind of existential state,

while if John and Jim and Jack all love each other, this is a mere activity?

And why is the impulse to join with two people "morally and psychologically

inferior" to the impulse to join with one? Because, insists Sullivan,

homosexuality "occupies a deeper level of human consciousness than a

polygamous impulse." Interesting: this is exactly the kind of moral hierarchy

among sexual practices that homosexual advocates decry as arbitrary and


Finding, based on little more than "almost everyone seems to accept," the

moral and psychological inferiority of polygamy, Sullivan would deny the

validity of polygamist marriage. Well, it happens that most Americans,

finding homosexuality morally and psychologically inferior to

heterosexuality, would correspondingly deny the validity of homosexual

marriage. Yet when they do, the gay-marriage advocates charge bigotry and


Or consider another restriction built into the traditional definition of

marriage: that the married couple be unrelated to each other. The Kings and

Queens of Europe defied this taboo, merrily marrying their cousins, with

tragic genetic consequences for their offspring. For gay marriage there are

no such genetic consequences. The child of a gay couple would either be

adopted or the biological product of only one parent. Therefore the

fundamental basis for the incest taboo disappears in gay marriage.

Do gay-marriage advocates propose to permit the marriage of, say, two

brothers, or of a mother and her (adult) daughter? If not, by what reason of

logic or morality?

The problem here is not the slippery slope. It is not that if society allows

gay marriage, society will then allow polygamy or incest. It won't. The

people won't allow polygamy or incest. Even the gay-marriage advocates won't

allow it.

The point is why they won't allow it. They won't allow it because they

think polygamy and incest wrong or unnatural or perhaps harmful. At bottom,

because they find these practices psychologically or morally abhorrent,

certainly undeserving of society's blessing.

Well, that is how most Americans feel about homosexual marriage, which

constitutes the ultimate societal declaration of the moral equality of

homosexuality and heterosexuality. They don't feel that way, and they don't

want society to say so. They don't want their schools, for example, to teach

their daughters that society is entirely indifferent whether they marry a

woman or a man. Given the choice between what Sullivan calls the virtually

normal (homosexuality) and the normal, they choose for themselves, and hope

for their children, the normal.

They do so because of various considerations: tradition, utility, religion,

moral preference. Not good enough reasons, say the gay activists. No? Then

show me yours for opposing polygamy and incest.