07 November 2015

The slippery slope is proving true

I have never accepted the premise that the argument of the so-called slippery slope is an automatic logical fallacy. Those who make such a claim - so it seems to me - can only do so by looking into the future without an honest assessment of the past (both distant and recent) and/or a realistic understanding of human nature.

The thought process that leads to the notion of the slippery slope is rather simple. A person looking at Situation A concludes, based on the evidence at hand, that it will lead to Situation B. After considering Situation B, the same person concludes that Situation B will lead to situation C and that Situation C will lead to Situation D. If we are honest, we use this thought process every day of our lives as we consider our actions and the actions of others and make judgments about them. No one considers it a fallacy when used in everyday life; it is only when it is used in matters of importance that they cry foul.

After reading the Supreme Court decision of the case of Obergefell vs. Hodges, many logically minded people - myself included - wondered how long it would be before a father and son or two brothers argued for the right to enter a marriage as redefined by the state.

According to the majority opinion of the court, written by Justice Kennedy, what constitutes a marriage is simply this:

The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation.
Let us, for the sake of argument, presume that Justice Kennedy is right about the nature of marriage. What, then, would prohibit a father from marrying a son or prohibit two sisters marrying each other? According to Justice Kennedy's argument, nothing. The ruling speaks only of "same-sex couples" and makes no mention of familial relations that would still legally prohibit an opposite-sex marriage.

Before the Supreme Court issued it's decision, many people took to social media with the simple slogan imprinted over an equal sign, "Love is love." It sounds nice, doesn't it? I was bold enough to ask people if, given that slogan, two brothers should be able to marry each other. Only rarely would someone say, yes, two brothers should be able to marry each other. While I strongly disagree with them, I commend them for at least following their argument to its logical conclusion.

Most people, however, simply refused to respond to my question in any way whatever, and some even "unfriended" me for daring to ask the question and question their logic. They knew by voicing their objection to incest that their argument fell flat, that it is not as simple as "love is love."

When we made this argument both before and after Obergefell vs. Hodges, our argument was repeatedly dismissed as being that of the slippery slope and, therefore, unworthy of attention.

Now, consider this curious and unusual situation in presently underway in the state of  Pennsylvania:
Nino Esposito and Roland "Drew" Bosee
Photo: Michael Henninger/[Pittsburgh] Post Gazette
Before states across the country began striking down bans on same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court ultimately decided the issue nationwide, some gay couples used adoption laws as a way to gain legal recognition as a family, and the related benefits such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.

Nino Esposito, a retired teacher, adopted his partner Roland “Drew” Bosee, a former freelance and technical writer, in 2012, after more than 40 years of being a couple.

Now, they’re trying to undo the adoption to get married and a state trial court judge has rejected their request, saying his ability to annul adoptions is generally limited to instances of fraud [more].
Some hope for sanity was given in the judgment of Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole, who ruled that Esposito and Bosee cannot enter marriage - redefined or otherwise - "because they are legally father and son" and the courts had no justification for annulling the adoption. However, as should be expected, his decision is being challenged.

Enter Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) who, coming to the couple's defense, wrote to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and to the White House asking "that gay couples who have previously entered into adoptions can annul them in order to receive marriage licenses." Regrettably, the full text of Senator Casey's letter does not seem to be available online.

Enter, also, the ACLU, which "is hopeful that the Superior Court will apply established legal principles to allow annulment of adoptions by same-sex couples who that they can finally partake of their constitutional right to marry."

The current law is clear: fathers cannot marry their sons and adoptions cannot be annulled except in serious instances. In order for the Superior Court to rule differently than Judge O'Toole, the higher court must either ignore the current law or the current law must be changed. How long do you think it will be before the latter happens? I expect we will see such a piece of legislation introduced within the next several weeks.

Once that legislation passes (as it surely will in the false name of compassion), what will be the next step? If love is simply love and marriage is simply an "enduring bond" though which "
two persons together can find other freedoms," it will not be long before incestual marriages become legal. There appears now to be now legal reasoning to prohibit them.

I sincerely hope I am wrong in my assessment of the situation, but time will tell if I am right and the slippery slope is real.

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