For the first time, a Gallup poll shows that national support for same-sex marriage is the majority position: 53 percent support and only 45 percent oppose. There does not appear to be anything in the culture that would reverse that upward trend. The remarkable increase in support for the arrangement over last year's measurement "came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans' views did not change."
So Marvin Olasky's recent question to Focus on the Family President Jim Daly is a timely one: "We're winning the younger generation on abortion, at least in theory. What about same-sex marriage?" Daly's response was frank and sober:
"We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age-demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that. I don't want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture."
In the state of New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the legislature to establish same-sex marriage by law, supporters of the change call it "marriage equality." The idea is that there are these marriages out there, but some are legally recognized while others are not. It's just baseless discrimination, they say. As a consequence, some get inheritance advantages, tax breaks, employer benefits, and visitation rights in the emergency room, whereas others do not. So let's just treat all marriages the same way. (In last week's column, I argued, "But there's one problem. It's not marriage.")
But "all marriages" is an expandable concept limited only by the imagination. If Americans make their peace with same-sex marriage, there is no logical reason that marriage should not include any combination of people in any number. Incest? Polygamy? A cultic, free-love commune? Why not? People who are presently in incestuous and polygamous relationships are waiting in the wings, eager to get in on this "marriage equality."
When then-Sen. Rick Santorum made the reductio ad absurdum argument in 2003 that same-sex marriage would lead to legitimating bigamy, polygamy, incest, and, indeed, "anything," Slate supported his logic, asking, "Incest repellent? If gay sex is private, why isn't incest?" Of course, as we learned (but should have guessed) with homosexual advocacy, what starts out a demand for privacy quickly moves on to demand affirmation through legally recognized marriage.
In 2010, Columbia political science professor David Epstein was discovered to have been having an incestuous though consensual relationship with his 24-year-old daughter. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison. But under the rubric of "marriage equality," there should be no crime here, and nothing to shock. How Victorian, after all. Is the relationship unnatural? Apparently we're beyond that.
And polygamy? It's not just for old-order Mormons anymore. It has already had its normalizing television appeal on HBO's Big Love, a successful show that concluded its last of five seasons in March. When the show debuted, Charles Krauthammer noted its connection with the calls for same-sex marriage. We cannot "make one radical change in the one-man, one-woman rule and not be open to the claim of others that their reformation be given equal respect."
That so many people are fine with giving the name "marriage" to homosexual domestic arrangements is a sad moral indicator. If people become equally comfortable with all manner conjugal unions, then as Jim Daly said, Christians will have to start rethinking where we are in relation to the culture.