For years, critics of the idea of same-sex "marriage" have made the point that accepting the proposition that two persons of the same sex can marry each other entails abandoning any principled basis for understanding marriage as the union of two and only two persons. So far as I am aware, our opponents have made no serious effort to answer or rebut this point. Their strategy has been to dismiss it as a mere slippery-slope argument (although the truth is that it is a more fundamental type of argument than that) and to accuse us of engaging in "scare tactics." Some have even denounced us as "bigots" for suggesting that same-sex relations are on a par with polygamy and "polyamory"—the union of three or more persons in a sexual partnership.
That was then; this is now.
A group of self-identified "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and allied activists, scholars, educators, writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, and community organizers" has released a statement explicitly endorsing "committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner." Got that? More than one conjugal partner.
The people putting out this statement are not fringe figures. The more than 300 signatories include feminist icon Gloria Steinem, NYU sociologist Judith Stacey, Columbia University anthropologist Elizabeth Povinelli, Georgetown law professors Robin West and Chai Feldblum, the Rev. Cecil Charles Prescod of Love Makes a Family Inc., Yale law professor Kenji Yoshino, Princeton religion professor Cornel West, writer Barbara Ehrenreich, and Pat Clark, former executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
The statement—titled "Beyond Gay Marriage"—lays out with remarkable candor and clarity the agenda of their movement. They have said what very few "gay marriage" advocates have heretofore been willing to reveal for fear that it would alienate people who might otherwise be persuaded to support same-sex "marriage" on the theory that "love makes a family." These are people who do not want to change the meaning of marriage or undermine the institution, but who might be open to the idea of "extending" marriage to "committed, loving same-sex couples."
In acknowledging that under the doctrine of "love makes a family," what applies to "committed, loving same-sex couples" must apply to "committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner," the signatories to "Beyond Gay Marriage" exhibit the virtues of intellectual honesty and logical consistency.
And they let the cat out of the bag. What lies "beyond gay marriage" are multiple sex partners.
The choice facing us as a nation is this: Either we retain as legally normative the traditional conjugal understanding of marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman, or we give legal standing and public approbation to every form of consensual sexual partnering and child rearing, including polygamy and polyamory. Just ask those notable "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied activists, scholars educators, writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, and community organizers." They'll tell you exactly what lies "beyond gay marriage." They already have.
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