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March 4, 2013 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Letters from a Young Contrarian

The Sloppy Slope Argument

Dear Reader,

In the recent debate over whether the State should recognize love between two living, breathing, loving human beings equally or not (hint: it should), you may have heard Bob McCroskie and his ilk advance the typical ‘slippery slope’ argument that goes something like: “Legalising gay marriage will lead to the legalisation of polygamous marriage.”

I’m always fascinated by this efficient line of argumentation; efficient in that this lone sentence actually contains two, albeit lazy, propositions.

The first tenet of the argument is explicit: allowing same-sex love will lead to more-sex love. But the idea that New Zealand would become New Utah in no time were this Bill to pass is tenuous at best and absurd at worst. Amending an existing Act to remove discrimination on the basis of sex is wholly different to the law changes required to recognise a third, fourth or nth spouse. It doesn’t follow logically that polygamy or incest or bestiality laws would change at all; homosexuality is a distinct argument and should be treated as such. Interestingly enough, back in 2008 Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson stated that the government was moving to recognise triples in the family unit. If there’s any slippery slope, it’s from polyamory to homosexuality.

The next line of reasoning is insidiously implied: if the Marriage (Amendment) Bill passes and leads to polyamorous relationships being equally ordained by the state, then this will prima facie be a bad thing. It’s a loaded phrase, dripping with derision for and discrimination against a minority of people who choose to love more than one partner at a time. So what if this small subset of society is able to marry?

The institution of marriage has evolved over time from being a mere formality used by a man to take property of a woman into a special legal recognition by the state of its individuals’ love for one another. Spouses are afforded certain legal rights and the ability to declare themselves wed in recognition for the good that these particularly special relationships do to society. Every time marriage is liberalised, it is strengthened as an institution: when people were able to marry those of another class, another sex, another racial background, more people were able to share their love and derive benefit from it. Homosexuality and polyamory will be the next steps in the State’s long journey to realising that any lovin’s good lovin’.


Cam Price



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