06/15/2013 09:00 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Dear Opponents of Marriage Equality: It's Not a Slippery Slope

Dear opponents of marriage equality,

As the time for SCOTUS to weigh in on DOMA and Prop 8 nears, I've noticed that y'all are becoming slightly shriller (if such a thing is possible) in your insistence on the dire consequences of permitting same-sex couples to marry. All of these objections are ludicrous. They would have to be, since there are no legitimate, compelling reasons to deny loving couples the ability to legally commit to one another.

The most offensive of these objections comes in the form of the slippery-slope argument. It goes something like this: "If we allow same-sex couples to marry, we're going to have to allow polygamy! We'll have to allow people to marry children! And their pets! And toasters!"

Setting aside how offensive it is to compare gay relationships to pedophilia, bestiality, and polygamy (and it's incredibly offensive), this argument is easily deconstructed -- so easily, in fact, that it has been thoroughly debunked countless times before, but I'm going to go ahead and do it again, just this once.

Your average homosexual couple is not generally all that different from your average heterosexual couple. Both consist of two adult human beings who have formed a mutually-agreed-upon bond based on love, attraction, and commonalities of interest. The key phrase in the previous sentence is "two adult human beings who have formed a mutually-agreed-upon bond."

Let's parse this: When proponents of marriage equality refer to same-sex marriage, what we are talking about is that sort of bond. The key factors here are:

  1. Two human beings, both of whom are:
  2. Legal adults, and who are a part of:
  3. A mutually consenting relationship.

So let's see if the individual elements of the slippery-slope argument pass the smell test.

Polygamous marriage: Nope. It gets knocked out immediately, because it includes more than two human beings.

Marrying children: Nope. Two strikes against this, because one partner is not a legal adult and is thus not actually capable of giving consent.

Marrying pets: Nope. This one fails on all three factors. One of the "partners" in question is not a human and therefore can neither consent or be considered a legal adult.

Marrying toasters, chairs, end tables, stylishly tasteful pumps, etc.: Nope. Once again, this one fails on all three counts. One "partner" is not human. It's not even alive and therefore cannot either give consent or be an adult, legal or otherwise.

So you see, your slippery slope is not slippery at all. It's not even a slope. Your argument does not merely fail on its merits; it fails spectacularly.

The next time you feel tempted to turn to pedophilia, polygamy, and bestiality as a go-to argument against marriage equality, I want you to repeat the words "two consenting adults" to yourself 10 times, and then find another argument. Let me know once you do; I'll be happy to debunk it.


P.S. No, we can't just call it a civil union. More on that later.