No closet was big enough to hold Anthony Kennedy, but he came out of something dank and dark somewhere to liberate the gay caballeros. It certainly wasn’t the law. Not even the law could accommodate the purple emotional theatrics he poured into the Supreme Court’s decision rendering the Defense of Marriage Act null, void, mean, cruel, worthless and probably fattening.
When he wrote that Congress, in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, acted with the deliberate intention to “disparage and injure” same-sex couples, he tried to put everyone who disagrees with him beyond the limits of human decency. No more Mr. Nice Guy in the wedding chapel.
Antonin Scalia’s dissent, written more in disbelief and incredulity than in the anger attributed to him by critics envious of his way with the language, decried his colleague’s “legalistic argle-bargle” (a particularly clever phrase). “By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.”
Mr. Scalia, in fact, sounds like a man who knows what’s coming next, and what’s next, if not tomorrow then not later than Tuesday, is the radical idea of group marriage, with an infinite number of husbands and wives. Lawyers are stitching their briefs now. There’s an old name for it and a new movement pushing it, with the requisite professors with Ph.Ds spouting esoteric and exotic (if not necessarily erotic) names for everything, and even a magazine deploying visions of a noisy new world with enough snoring, nagging and burping to satisfy satyr or sinner.
Dr. Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who calls herself one of the founders of the polyamory movement, which is sort of like a bowel movement without the inconvenience. A big and hearty blonde, she’s an authority, or at least an advocate, for something called erotic spirituality, something else called “ecosex” (which sounds like something both green and fun), and “tantra and pelvic heart integration,” which doesn’t sound either very green or very much fun.
However, Dr. Anapol writes in her book, “Polyamory in the 21st Century,” a group marriage where everybody shares everything, from toothbrushes to wives, will be nirvana. Parking spaces will be at a premium but there will never be a shortage of sitters for the babies we can expect to be showered on the crowded hearth.
“More adults sharing parenting can mean less stress and less burnout without losing any of the rewards,” she says. “In a larger group of men and women it’s more likely that one or two adults will be willing and able to stay home and care for the family or that each could be available one or two days a week … it’s possible for children to have more role models, more playmates and more love in a group environment.”
Besides, she says, “people sometimes avoid intimacy [nudge, wink] in a conscious or unconscious effort to safeguard a monogamous commitment.” She concedes there’s no guarantee that polyamorous families will be “stable and nurturing” but she thinks polyamory may be “at least as good” as anything else. We should throw out arrangements that have worked well for thousands of years, across dozens of cultures, and hope for the best.
Absurd and goofy as this sounds, it’s on the way, and Justice Kennedy’s remarkable descent into the dark side clears the way for many versions of what he imagines marriage can be. His nose for the law detects the hint of orange blossoms when the rest of us only smell the sewer. He and the high court invoked a standard of “dignity” to rescue same-sex marital coupling from “a second-tier marriage.
“The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects,” he wrote, “and whose relationship the state has sought to dignify.”
The “kids” of the tumultuous ‘60s, the decade that trashed the civil society, dreamed potted dreams of a society with no limits or self-discipline: “If it feels good, do it.”
“It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it’s going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here,” Mr. Scalia wrote, “when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority’s moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress‘ hateful moral judgment against it. I promise you this: The only thing that will ‘confine’ the Court’s holding is its sense of what it can get away with.”
This court is confident it can get away with everything (and order a bigger marital bed). We’ve finally arrived.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.