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There’s a delicious ending to Matt Franck’s piece at Public Discourse  today. An advocate of same-sex marriage ridicules appeals to the definition of marriage and to tradition by same-sex marriage skeptics, only to make the same appeals when faced with the question of polygamy:

[Lambda Legal attorney Hayley Gorenberg] had begun, in her prepared remarks, by calling on a standard of “rights” that cannot be defeated by appeals to “tradition.” And she had mocked judges who, in the early decisions on the case for same-sex marriage, had simply turned to a dictionary definition of marriage.

Yet, in her response to my point about plural marriages, Gorenberg herself turned immediately to tradition and to received definitions. Marriage just  is  a “binary institution,” she asserted, and changing that fact would entail all sorts of inconveniences. (The historic existence of polygamy in many places is proof that these inconveniences are not insurmountable, but this did not slow her down.)

Why mere tradition was  now  owed such automatic allegiance, she did not pause to explain.  Now  the prospect of altering a “whole raft of laws” associated with marriage filled her with horror and incredulity. She seemed quite oblivious of the fact that she was making my argument for me. Where was her concern about changing all the details and complexities of a forest of family law planted thick with assumptions about husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, always of opposite sexes?

Same-sex marriage advocates like Gorenberg are guilty of precisely the sin they accuse SSM skeptics of—-arbitrary, non-principled exclusion of certain persons from marriage. (Agree or disagree with their principles, the skeptics have offered principled reasons for limiting marriage to two people of the opposite sex.)

The question I have for SSM advocates is this: Do you support polygamy (and just don’t want the public to know) or do you deny that there’s any irony in your incomplete marriage revisionism?

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