That said, I want to talk a bit about the "slippery slope" argument.
Generally speaking, the slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy--one which I personally despise. It basically goes like this: "If we allow X, then before you know it we will have Y, Z, and A!" In other words you do not argue against the actual topic at hand, but against some fearmongered future state.
Fox News and MSNBC are fantastic at this on opposite ends of the spectrum. If an Alabama judge puts up the Ten Commandments on the courthouse lawn, MSNBC thinks we are on a slippery slope to a theocracy and we will all be wearing scarlet letters on our clothing and burning copies of Darwin. Yet when those Ten Commandments are removed, Fox acts as though the government is two months away from starting locking up churches and outlawed the Bible.
It's just fearmongering. "Where does it end?" is what the slippery slope argument is based on.
However sometimes there is some legitimacy to it. And I think gay marriage does run that risk a bit. Not in the way some think--I'm not saying "Let them marry gays and soon they'll be marrying goats" or whatever craziness you've heard.
But I do think the logic is very, very shaky ground.
You see, everything must have some definition. Marriage, traditionally, has been defined as, "The legal relationship between one man and one woman to live together, for the primary purpose of having and raising children." That was the primary definition for most of American history.
This is clear and simple to understand. It is also easy to understand who cannot be married. You cannot marry more than one person ("one man and one woman"); you cannot marry homosexually ("man and woman"); you cannot marry very incestuously because of the birth defect issue ("for the primary purpose of having and raising children").
The problem today is that the gay marriage civil rights movement has now caused a very unclear definition.
It is now defined as, "A legal relationship between spouses who intend to live together as sexual and domestic partners."
Why is that a problem?
Well let me give you three situations which fit perfectly fine in this new definition in addition to homosexual relationships:
- Statutory rape: If both are consenting, what is to stop a 40 year old from marrying a 13 year old?
- Incest: If both are consenting and wish to live together as partners, why couldn't they?
- Polygamy: If all are consenting, why should they be limited to one partner only?
Now by changing the definition to "adults" you can negate the first one, so let's do that. But what about the second and third?
I simply cannot think of any definition of marriage which allows homosexuals but outlaws incest and polygamy.
The entire basis of redefining marriage, after all, is that "consenting adults who are in love should be able to marry." But why not incest and polygamy, then?
If marriage is stripped of any moral or Biblical basis, and is simply based upon what one feels about another adult, then how can we exclude such people? There is nothing inherently dangerous to society about polygamy, or even incest--one cannot argue that either of them poses more danger than homosexuality. So if we allow one, why not the others?
And don't pretend like it isn't reasonable. Europe approved homosexuality long before we did, and already Scandinavian countries are debating incest law, and Germany is debating bestiality.
My guess is that polygamy is the next battleground in the U.S. Once all states have approved gay marriage (which I think is inevitable at this point), the extremist Mormons in the west will step in and begin arguing for polygamy. And what leg does the state have to stand on? If they are consenting adults in love, then if and that is our criteria for marriage they should be able to be married. Incest will probably take a generation or two due to the taboo it still holds. But as we have seen with gay marriage, a generation can make all the difference in the world with regard to taboos.
This is one slope that truly is slippery. And my gut tells me that my grandchildren will grow up in a world in which polygamy, incest, and gay marriage are all completely normal.