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Rick Santorum Was Right About Incest and the Slippery Slope

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
In April 2003, Senator Rick Santorum stated that, “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” For this he was mocked and vilified. It turns out he was right.

In my last article, “Here Comes Incest, Just as Predicted,” I pointed to a small but growing societal trend towards the acceptance of consensual, adult incest, especially when these unions do not produce children. I had already written about this in 2011 in A Queer Thing Happened to America where I warned that, “The trajectory is all too clear!” Others, of course, have differed with that assessment.

Law professor Courtney Megan Cahill, writing in the Northwestern University Law Review in 2005, described Santorum’s remarks as, “One of the more infamous slippery slope arguments in recent memory.”

Andrew Sullivan, writing in The New Republic, heaped scorn on Santorum’s reasoning: “If you want to argue that a lifetime of loving, faithful commitment between two women is equivalent to incest or child abuse, then please argue it. It would make for fascinating reading. But spare us this bizarre point that no new line can be drawn in access to marriage—or else everything is up for grabs . . . .”

According to Dahlia Lithwick, writing in SLATE in 2004, “The problem is it’s virtually impossible to debate against a slippery slope. Before you know it you fall down, break your crown, and Rick Santorum comes tumbling after.”

So much for taking Santorum (and before him, Justice Antonin Scalia) seriously.

But what is undeniable now is that more and more people, gay and straight alike, especially among the younger generation, are realizing that the same arguments that support homosexual unions also support adult, incestuous unions. (This applies especially to cases when the incestuous union is between two men or two women, where the possibility of children born with genetic defects does not exist).

I touched on this briefly in my last article, but it’s worth illustrating this point more fully on a popular level. Consider some of the comments in response to an article entitled “Twincest.” posted in May 2010 on, the flagship gay publication. (Again, this is not meant to be scientific evidence; it is simply anecdotal evidence, but as such, is quite representative.)

According to Alex, “As they can’t procreate, the main argument against incest is null. They aren’t harming each other, society, or anyone in particular, so let them be. It’s discouraging how many here have no valid arguments against them, other than ‘sick’ or ‘gross’. Such a situation is not my cup of tea, nor is it for many here, but being homosexual is not the norm in our society either. If we don’t want people calling us ‘gross’ or ‘sick’ when our actions hurt neither us nor people around us, we should refrain from such name calling ourselves.”

He added, “I would also like to point out that my last answer wasn’t based on ‘feelings’ I was arguing that if the only thing people can say against the situation is something like ‘gross’ and ‘sick’, it is hypocritical from a glbt perspective.”

Randall asked, “Who are you to judge them when they are harming no one?” (Does this sound familiar?)

Bailey claimed that, “Taboos on incest aren’t normal. They are indoctrinated and learned.” (Does this also sound familiar?)

Michael wrote, “I would hope gays, being the doormat of modern knee jerk taboos, would at least try to look at something like this from a few different angles before just throwing out condemnations.”

Danny explained, “What you feel is your business. If you don’t want to so participate, then don’t. But don’t think you[r] experiences must be reflected in anyone else’s experiences. You do not know their circumstances, or their DNA. DNA is a compelling motivator, above even that of an invisible, absent and silent deity!” (Their genes made them do it?)

John went one step further: “Being identical twins it is no surprise to me that they love as they do. It is the way God made them.” (God made them incestuous?)

Comments like these are not just found on gay websites. After a Columbia University professor was arrested for having a three-year, consensual affair with his adult daughter (mentioned in my last article),
Rush Limbaugh noted that students commenting on “the Columbia University student newspaper website are mystified as to why it’s illegal: ‘Wait, why is consensual incest a crime? It might not be appealing to everyone, but if they’re adults and they consent, who cares what they do?’ This is a typical comment from a student on the site.”

Exactly. “If they’re adults and they consent, who cares what they do?” Rick Santorum was right.

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