Here’s from James Taranto’s column today–comments that Andrew Sullivan has called “sane”:

Echoing Santorum, Kurtz raises the possibility of a “slippery slope” leading from same-sex marriage to polygamy. But one can easily draw a distinction. The widespread practice of polygamy would have great social costs. It would distort the sexual marketplace by creating an undersupply of marriageable women. (Polyandry, the practice of women having multiple husbands, is too rare to be worth discussing.) The result is the creation of what Jonathan Rauch calls a “sexual underclass” of “low-status men” whose prospects for marriage are virtually nil… By contrast, it’s hard to imagine any great social harm arising from official recognition of same-sex unions. Just about anyone who would consider “marrying” someone of the same sex is outside the ordinary marriage pool anyway… [James Taranto, “Best of the Web Today,” 4/29/03]

Is Taranto completely oblivious to the philosophical implications of his argument? What business is it of the government whether or not someone “reduces the marriage pool”? Suppose Catholicism differentially encouraged women to become nuns–would that mean society should proscribe women from doing so? If it became fashionable for women to refrain from marrying, would that justify society’s forcing them into marriage?

The premise from which Taranto is arguing sounds like a feminist caricature: People are breeding animals for society, who, if they can’t find a mate, deserve to have one provided by the state. This is completely antithetical to any notion of individual rights, let alone human decency. This is yet another example of conservatives’ willingness to dispense with rational principles.

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