Here in Maryland, on election day, voters will choose whether to support or reject a state law affirming marriage equality for the LGBT community. Polls say that they will endorse it (although we have seen before that the actual vote on gay and lesbian rights issues often underperforms its pre-vote polling). Similar votes will take place in Maine and Washington, while Minnesota voters will decide whether to explicitly reject and ban gay marriage. To date, at the state level, voters across the nation have consistently rejected gay marriage when the issue has been put to a vote. But that appears about to change, in the states where it comes up for a vote this year.
Still, opponents of marriage equality continue to bring out the same tired arguments about the awful things that will happen if we allow gay marriage to spread. You've heard it all: religious freedom trampled, people sued/fired/prosecuted if they dare to speak disapprovingly of gay marriage, etc. And of course, the dreaded "slippery slope." This is the one I want to talk about, because I think it is simultaneously the most ominous and irrational of them all.
Marriage equality opponents repeatedly say- and as far as I can tell, many seem to sincerely believe it - that allowing gay marriage is a one-way ticket to an anything-goes culture. Who can forget Senator Rick Santorum freaking out a hapless reporter by openly worrying about 'man on dog' sex? Why, they say, if we allow gay marriage, then we'll have to allow incest. What rational ground could anyone have for opposing that, once sam-sex couples are legally accepted? People will want to marry dogs and horses next. "Bestiality" is a sexual orientation, so we'll have to allow that too. Not to mention pedophilia! And polygamy! Yes, as soon as we allow consenting same-sex adults to have full legal recognition of their relationship, then all of these things will inevitably follow.
Are they serious? Apparently. But taking this to its logical slippery-slope conclusion: if they will all happen separately, then eventually they will all happen together! In other words: allowing gay marriage will inevitably lead to PGPB - Polygamous Gay Pedophilic Bestiality - in which men will marry entire litters of male puppies. And then have sex with them. Probably in public. While Godless, atheist, overpaid public school teachers force your kids to watch.
And really, isn't this the logical endpoint of the slippery-slope argument?
If gay marriage is allowed, we will somehow lose the ability to count, and inevitably accept polygamy as well.
If gay marriage is allowed, we will somehow lose the ability to tell children from adults, and inevitably accept pedophilia as well.
If gay marriage is allowed, we will somehow lose the ability to distinguish humans from animals, and inevitably accept zoophilia as well.
I don't know why they believe these things, because it's all as crazy as hell. But they keep saying it, and I assume they are honest people and believe what they say.
I think it's sad when someone is so terrified of gays and lesbians that they actually believe these things will happen. The paralyzing fear of "the other," of those who think and feel and act differently from yourself, must be overwhelming.
And yet, I also believe national acceptance of marriage equality is inevitable. The younger generations are overwhelmingly not burdened by the same fear and revulsion towards gays and lesbians so prevalent in the older ones. Because of this, if for no other reason than that the older, prejudiced persons eventually die off, the public acceptance of gays and lesbians as social and legal equals in every way will grow and spread. The flurry of anti-gay amendments and laws passed in the 2000's will come to be seen as embarassing relics - to eventually be overturned by courts or by the votes of a more enlightened and accepting generation. And the world will keep spinning merrily on (no asteroids or earthquakes or volcanos as divine punishment, however much some Red-Staters secretly long to see this). And our future selves and descendants will wonder what all the fuss was about.