Equal marriage rights: not a slippery slope

Poor anti-gay bigots. As societal acceptance of same sex relationships grows, they find themselves running out of arguments against allowing same sex couples to marry, so have to resort to ever more tenuous arguments to support their desperate attempts to oppose change.

One such bogus argument is that granting equal marriage rights would be a “slippery slope”. That legitimising same sex partnerships is going to lead to campaigns to legitimise polygamy, bestiality and paedophilia. What utter nonsense.

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with consensual poly relationships. They’re certainly not for everyone; I can’t imagine myself in one. But I respect that it suits some, and I admire those who manage to make it work for them. I don’t expect to see anyone strongly campaigning for poly marriage rights in the near future, but I do hope this community gains further awareness and understanding over time.

Second, no one’s going to campaign to support paedophilia and other paraphilias. You know why? It all comes down to consent. Consenting adults in queer relationships deserve the same rights as consenting adults in heterosexual relationships. Because: consent.

When an adult pursues a relationship with a child, it’s characterised by a power imbalance, a lack of consent, and great potential for harm. No one’s seriously going to stand for that. So, dear bigots, relax – your gay neighbours getting married isn’t the start of a slippery slope: it’s simply and expression of their love for each other and the formalisation of an emotional and sexual relationship they’ve probably already been in for a while anyway.

In my mind, things become a lot clearer when we view relationships and sexual interaction from the perspective of consent vs. harm, rather than straight vs gay, or majority vs. minority.

Consent is important for straight couples, too, even when they’re married. Sex between two adult partners is not automatically okay because they’re married: it’s only okay if and when they actively consent.

Rape is wrong at any age, and should be treated as such. And in the rare occasions where a child willingly participates in sexual activity with someone much older, one has to question whether that willingness was the result of coercion. That’s why we have age of consent laws – to make adults, who hold the power in such situations, responsible for the wellbeing of the child. We make sexual activity with children illegal because of the great potential for harm, both now and into the future.

Drawing a link between consensual same sex relationships and perpetrators of sexual abuse is simply fear-mongering, and there’s no place for it in public discourse about a human rights issue like marriage equality.

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