12/23/08

Scientists Argue for Marriage Equality . . . for Cousins

I couldn't help but notice this headline from Wired.com:

Cousin Marriage OK by Science

The religious right has argued that allowing same-sex marriage means permitting incest is not far behind. Now here I am bringing up marriage equality in relation to incest. I know; it feels weird--but I can't help myself. The Wired.com article cites the Public Library of Science Biology, zoologists, anthropologists, statistics from the National Society of Genetic Counselors, and genetics counselors themselves--all in favor of accepting cousin marriage.
Thirty-one states outlaw marriage between first cousins, making the United States the only developed country in which the practice is regularly banned. Most [laws] were passed in the Civil War's aftermath — not, say [Hamish] Spencer and [Diane] Paul, to reduce the chance of defects caused by combinations of deleterious genes, but as part of a radical expansion of government authority over private lives.

'Unlike the situation in Britain and much of Europe, cousin marriage in the U.S. was associated not with the aristocracy and upper middle class but with much easier targets: immigrants and the rural poor,' they write.
It sounds odd to me, but this article makes many convincing arguments. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

California much more tolerant of cousins than gays.

William Saletan at Slate.com has already drawn comparisons to our struggle for marriage equality with cousin-marriage:
HRC maintains that 'criminalizing the conduct that defines the class serves no legitimate state purpose,' since gays 'are not less productive—-or more dangerous-—members of the community by mere dint of their sexual orientation.' They sustain 'committed relationships' and 'serve their country in the military and in the government.' Fair enough. But couldn't the same be said of sibling couples? Don't laugh. Cousin couples are already making this argument.
Do we as a community come together in support of this under the marriage equality umbrella if the evidence for it is true?

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