"Beyond Gay Marriage"
The stated goal of these prominent gay activists is no longer merely the freedom to live as they want.
12:00 AM, Aug 17, 2006 • By RYAN T. ANDERSON
POLYGAMY? POLYAMORY? The end of marriage as we know it? For the past few years, and with increased frequency in recent months, defenders of marriage have been sounding the alarm as to the real goals of the so-called gay "marriage" movement. In response, gay marriage's "conservative" proponents have countered that the model of opposite-sex marriage, with its norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence, could apply just as well to same-sex partners. That everything which makes a marital relationship worthwhile to heterosexual spouses, to their children, and to the state would apply to gay couples as well. Essentially, that same-sex partners want the exact same things as straight couples. And that basic fairness requires recognition of their relationships by the government.
Defenders of marriage saw through this. Scholars like Hadley Arkes and Robert P. George noted that by rejecting the grounding foundation of marriage--the unique psychosomatic unity possible only between one man and one woman in conjugal sex--the state would lose the principled basis for refusing to recognize polygamous (one man to multiple women) or even polyamorous (multiple men to multiple women, i.e. group) marriages. For pointing this out, they were called slippery-slope reasoners, scaremongers, and bigots. After all, it was said, no one seriously argues in favor of state-sanctioned polygamy or polyamory; George and Arkes were just slandering the good name and intentions of same-sex marriage activists.
It turns out that George and Arkes's points were not slanderous, but prophetic. For now, a distinguished group of scholars, civic leaders, and LGBT activists has grasped the full implications of a retreat from the conjugal conception of marriage--and has publicly embraced those implications. These gay-rights leaders have explicitly endorsed relationships consisting of multiple (more than two) sexual partners, and have even argued that justice requires both state recognition and universal acceptance of such relationships.
Their statement, "Beyond Gay Marriage," was released recently as a full-page ad in the New York Times. Full of candor, the statement's mission is "to offer friends and colleagues everywhere a new vision for securing governmental and private institutional recognition of diverse kinds of partnerships, households, kinship relationships and families." The statement lists several examples of such relationships, among them "committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner"--that is, polygamy and polyamory. But this is mild compared to what follows: demand for the legal recognition of "queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households." The language is breathtaking. Queer couples (plural) who jointly create a child? And intentionally raise the child in two (queer) households? Of course, no reference is made to the child's interests or welfare under such an arrangement--only to the fulfillment of adult desires by suitable "creations."
Put simply, the logic of "Beyond Gay Marriage" would result in the abolition of marriage as we know it. The authors tellingly write:
The stated goal of these prominent gay activists is no longer merely the freedom to live as they want. Rather, it is to force you, your family, and the state to recognize and respect their myriad choices. The result of meeting these demands will be a culture, a legal system, and a government that considers a monogamous, exclusive, permanent sexual relationship of child-bearing and child-rearing nothing more than one among many lifestyle choices. The claim that marriage is normative for the flourishing of spouses, children, and society--not to mention any attempt to enshrine in law this unique human good--would be considered bigotry. In other words, marriage as a social institution would be destroyed.
The "Beyond Gay Marriage" statement should not be taken lightly, for its signatories are by no means drawn exclusively from the "radical" periphery of the gay movement. They are in many cases the mainstream voices. As Professor George then noted on the First Things website: