Blogs > Liberty and Power > Same Sex Benefits Retort

Aug 27, 2004 8:47 am

Same Sex Benefits Retort

There is a short and long-term POLITICAL problem here that libertarians, comfortable with theory, are wont to tackle.

In the long-term, we (even Horowitz intimates this), may want the State out of the "marriage business," but in the short-term we live in the real, nitty-gritty world of state-governed rules that tightly bind state institutions in particular (note to Horowitz: your point concerning the latitude of private firms is well-taken but I, and most professors and students, teach or attend State universities or colleges. Perhaps I should have made that clear).

I don't see how we achieve, or advance our libertarian state-less marriage goals by simply extending current state rules to gays (because they have a lobby), but not to polygamists or others. What is the point? Sounds like mundane interest-group politics to me. More of the same. Libertarians aren't particularly good at this type of game.

As for this being a "small number of people," it is difficult to tell, as the "movement" has only just begun. Once attached to State rules or court decisions defining "equal rights" to mean gay marriage or same-sex benefits (but not polygamy), the door will be open to affirmative action of all sorts. As a long student of that area of civil rights, I know that activists take a victory in one area and use our judicial oligarchs, or friendly bureaucrats, to extend it in another.

Finally, Horowitz repeatedly states that marriage is a "desirable social institution." Perhaps this is so, though serial monogamy now seems to be the norm, and that institution has been under attack, or not as solid and "desirable" to those people who leave it (divorce) choose something else (cohabitate, remain single) or live "make-do" marriages. And, you skirt the issue of monogamy entirely: The classic argument is that monogamy makes for social stability (no unhappy mate-less males or females, as in polygamous societies). Another argument is that it is better to have two parents raise children; this is supported by social science research.

Interesting how everyone dodged the polygamy question. I searched a database of polls and found that polygamy is even less popular than same sex marriage (92% think it is morally wrong) even though major world religions (e.g., Islam) sanction it. A strong majority actually think a husband with more than one wife ought to be arrested but no one wants to enforce the sodomy statutes ("consenting adults" and all that). Love to see the gender breakdown of that poll!

Here is a strong argument for polygamy: It would help break down the temptation to "stray" into adultery (thus breaking the bonds of contractual marriage), protect the rights of religious groups to practice their "victimless" tenets, and halt the current discrimination against them too.

But there is that political reality again: The gay lobby overcame 92% opposition to gay marriage by working through friendly courts (damn the public!) but libertarians have yet to find a way to win victories of any sort. Whither the movement, should we deserve such a label. This whole debate shows how irrelevant we have become.

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