Here Comes Incest?

So says Jeff Jacoby. I'm skeptical - not because the right to incest doesn't arguably follow from the logic of gay marriage, as Jacoby says, but because I think the demand for marrying one's sister is far too low to overcome the "ick" factor involved. The gay population is small, but not that small - even at 2-4 percent of the American population, it's large enough to create both a mass constituency for gay marriage and a still-larger percentage of Americans who count homosexuals as their friends and neighbors, and understandably wish them happiness as a result. Whereas even if the incest taboo begins to fray, I think the number of would-be Ptolemies and Cleopatras is so vanishingly small that Americans - including Supreme Court Justices - will never have much of an incentive to put the logic of Lawrence v. Texas ahead of their repugnance.

Moreover, the case for gay marriage appeals to Americans' sense of fairness in a way that the argument for incest doesn't. If gays can't (or shouldn't) marry straights, the pro-gay wedlock argument runs, then they deserve to marry someone. Whereas a straight guy who wants to marry his sister isn't just asking for the right to marry the kind of person he's attracted to - he's asking for the right to marry a specific person, and that's more easily refused.

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Just In