The favorite rhetorical trick of the anti-gay marriage crowd is the slippery slope: if we allow gays to marry, then there is no reason three people can’t marry, and so forth and so on. Every sane reasoner knows that such arguments are ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean people don’t make them. The latest iteration of the slippery trope goes something like this:
>Activists are deployed across the country challenging traditional marriage, and it is more than likely that some additional judges will compound the Massachusetts mistake. This increased judicial approval of same-sex marriage will metastasize into the larger culture. Indeed, an insidious, but less recognized, consequence will be a push to demonize–and then punish–faith communities that refuse to bless homosexual unions.
So argues Douglas Kmiec, professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University. To lubricate the slope, Professor Kmiec draws an extended analogy with the Boy Scouts:
>While it may be inconceivable for many to imagine America treating churches that oppose gay marriage the same as racists who opposed interracial marriage in the 1960s, just consider the fate of the Boy Scouts. The Scouts have paid dearly for asserting their 1st Amendment right not to be forced to accept gay scoutmasters. In retaliation, the Scouts have been denied access to public parks and boat slips, charitable donation campaigns and other government benefits. The endgame of gay activists is to strip the Boy Scouts (and by extension, any other organization that morally opposes gay marriage) of its tax-exempt status under both federal and state law.
In the first place, it should be noted that there is a fundamental difference between the Boy Scouts use of public funds and property to discriminate against individuals and any church’s right to bless what it wants. No one doubts Bob Jones University’s right to prohibit interracial dating among those who subscribe to its version of Christianity, but hardly anyone could argue that the university should receive public funds to further that policy.
Since the analogy fails, it’s hardly likely that churches will be punished in any other than the usual way–losing members and earning the moral disapproval of those who disagree with their view.
Besides this, what’s really confused about Kmiec’s argument is that he thinks churches will have to make the affirmative step of “blessing homosexual unions.” Conservative churches maintain all sorts of discriminatory belief systems (women can’t be priests, nor can married people, nor can, get this, open homosexuals) and they continue to exist. They even receive rich federal grants for charitable work not associated with proselytizing.
There is one positive thing about slippery slope arguments: they slide both ways. The person who claims outrageous conclusions will follow opens himself to criticism about what justifies his affirmation. So, one wonders, what justifies this:
>Many share the view, as I do, that marriage is a moral reality incapable of redefinition by court edict.
Just because many share the view that it’s a moral reality, doesn’t mean it is. If such things were determined by popular vote, all sorts of craziness would follow, wouldn’t it?