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Friday, May 30, 2008

Sex and Eugene Volokh

The Volokh conspiracy is a blog with a focus on things legal. Eugene Volokh is a law professor at UCLA. And as cases involving sex are litigated, he and his cohorts comment on them, frequently citing the law and linking to the actual decisions handed down.

Eugene appears to be of a Libertarian bent and favors homosexual marriage. This is not too surprising since I believe, but can’t prove, that most academics do. To take a position otherwise would appear to be discriminatory and is certainly not in keeping with the evolution of our “living constitution.”

In this context, it is fascinating to see discussions of the controversy surrounding the Texas FLDS litigation. For those who have not been following this is a recent case in which Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) raided a ranch (Yearning for Zion Ranch) run by a polygamous group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Over 400 children were taken from their mothers and farmed out to foster homes based on the theory that they were in imminent danger.

A lower court agreed, an appeals court disagreed and the Texas Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court and ordered the children back to their parents.

Here is the part that I find interesting. Modern Liberalism demands that we get our noses out of other people’s bedrooms. It demands that we approve of homosexual practices and that we give our approval to homosexual marriages. But it has a visceral, prudish reaction to certain other sexual practices, demanding that – for example – people who approve of the marriage of teen aged girls to much older men be prosecuted.

Go back in time, not more than a few hundred years, and the sexual habits and morals of the day were the exact opposite. Homosexual practices were banned while marriages were frequently arranged between young girls and much older men and no one thought anything of it.

Things have changed since then, of course. We have the automobile, jet plane, the computer and indoor plumbing for the masses. But human morality has not evolved with the same speed and in the same direction as technology. If the courts find that it is required of the constitution that John and Bill should be allowed to marry, why do those who believe this, not only from a moral perspective but from a legal one, stop short of Frank marrying Jill, Mary, Elsie and Sophie?

What is it about the number “2” that creates a constitutional block to the latter marriage arrangement? I ask this in all sincerity since there is no doubt that the laws regarding sexual couplings and marriages are in a state of flux.

I can understand that people, having achieved their solitary objective of mainstreaming their personal sexual preferences now wish to stop all development and not extend new “rights” to less favored groups. But I would think that as a discussion of law and philosophy, such parochial considerations would be put aside.

I invite Professor Volokh to consider an answer.

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