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Barb Wire

Sibling-Marriage Equality: Say Yes to Incest


A recent article in The Telegraph titled “Incest a ‘Fundamental Right’, a German Committee Says” was precipitated by the infamous case of sibling incest in Germany that resulted in four children. The couple had not been raised together, and after they met, they fell in love and started a family.

The German Ethics Council stated that “‘Criminal law is not the appropriate means to preserve a social taboo….The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family.’”

According to the Council, the increased risk of genetic abnormalities is insufficient to prohibit incestuous marriage since “‘other genetically affected couples are not banned from having children.’”

Further, the Council believes that legalizing incest would allow couples who now are forced to live secret lives to live openly and without fear.

As homosexuals and their accomplices continue to dismantle marriage, questions about whether other marital criterion, like the requirement regarding blood kinship, can long survive.

If marriage is solely about “who loves whom,” as the Left claims, how can we the people justify preventing two (or three) brothers who are in love from marrying? Who are we to judge?

Several years ago William Saletan, writer for Slate Magazine and advocate for the legalization of homoerotic pseudo-marriage, made a strained  effort to explain why incestuous couples should not be allowed to marry while homosexual couples should be.

In his article, “Incest is Cancer,” Saletan argues that allowing, for example, adult siblings to marry would have an “incinerating” effect on families. He believes that if it were possible for close blood relatives to marry when they’re consenting adults, the family structure would be poisoned by confusion and mistrust:

Morally, the family-structure argument captures our central intuition about incest: It confuses relationships. Constitutionally, this argument provides a rational basis for laws against incest. But it doesn’t provide a rational basis for laws against homosexuality. In fact, it supports the case for same-sex marriage.

When a young man falls in love with another man, no family is destroyed….

Incest spectacularly flunks this test. By definition, it occurs within an already existing family. So it offers no benefit in terms of family formation. On the contrary, it injects a notoriously incendiary dynamic—sexual tension—into the mix….Now imagine doing that to your family. That’s what incest does. Don’t take my word for it. Read….what Woody Allen’s son says about his dad: “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression. I cannot see him. I cannot have a relationship with my father …”

Just to be clear, I’m with Ronan Farrow, Woody Allen’s son/brother-in-law, but I must admit to being surprised by such moralistic rhetoric coming from the non-judgmental mouth of a liberal. Perhaps if Farrow weren’t so prudish and provincial, he could be happy for the love his father and his sister have found. After all, how has their marriage affected anyone else’s marriage? It certainly hasn’t affected mine. Perhaps Farrow’s moral outrage is the toxic side effect of an outdated taboo that Farrow clings to and uses to feed his hateful bigotry.

Apparently Saletan hasn’t noticed that the intuition he posits as obvious—which is that incest confuses relationships—can just as easily be posited about homosexuality. Homoerotic desire and activity confuse and corrupt intimate relationships between two people of the same sex. Today, close same-sex friendships are ruined by sexual activity or by unexpected homoerotic advances.

Perhaps the Westermarck Effect will put Saletan’s mind to rest—at least about sibling incest. Children raised together during the first few years of their lives experience a psychological effect called the Westermarck Effect, which renders them desensitized to sexual attraction. Allowing siblings who meet for the first time later in life to marry would likely have no “incinerating” effect on any existing families or marriages.

There is another phenomenon called Genetic Sexual Attraction in which closely related adults who were not raised together experience a strong sexual attraction to one another. For liberals, wouldn’t this point to the naturalness of some sibling-attraction—perhaps even to a biological basis for it? (Although sibling-attraction may not correspond exactly to same-sex attraction, it certainly corresponds more closely to homosexuality than homosexuality does to race.)

If the existence of a phenomenon in nature means it is inherently moral, as liberals claim in regard to homosexuality, then surely they must believe—or feel—that incest is inherently moral.

If it is morally legitimate to act upon attractions if they are powerful, persistent, and unchosen, as liberals claim it is, then surely they must believe that it is morally legitimate for siblings to act upon Genetic Sexual Attraction.

Why aren’t liberals condemning the narrow-minded bigotry that keeps loving sibling couples locked in the proverbial closet? Why not expand the definition of marriage to include siblings? Why not extend marriage equality to all without regard to accidents of birth. Why not end discrimination against people based on their consanguinity?

Saletan concludes with this clear moral declaration: “[I]ncest is wrong. There’s a rational basis to forbid it. And we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.”

In Mr. Saletan’s view, the wrongfulness of incestuous marriage that provides the rational basis for prohibiting it derives from the fact that it “incinerates” families. No social science research needed.

Well, the wrongfulness of same-sex pseudo-marriage  that provides the rational basis for legally prohibiting it derives from the fact that it incinerates families by incinerating the bonds between children and their mothers and fathers—bonds which are the only justification the government has for being in the marriage business. If, as Saletan argues, the incinerating effect of different forms of unions on children is a legitimate state interest, then surely the incinerating effect of homosexual pseudo-marriage on the bond between children and their biological parents is a cause for state action.

Homoerotic pseudo-marriage is wrong. There’s a rational basis to forbid it. And we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.


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