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Keywords:

  • same-sex marriage;
  • homosexual;
  • polygamy;
  • polyamory;
  • zoophilia;
  • incest

The campaign for same-sex marriage is animated by two, contradictory impulses: a libertarian-egalitarian strain that continually expands the boundaries of what is publicly legitimate; and a conservative one that seeks to reinforce traditional boundaries. Democratic polities would benefit from public discussion on whether to retain normative, sexual boundaries, and if so, what they should reasonably be. I outline a moderately conservative agenda that would limit public legitimacy to sexually exclusive monogamy (heterosexual or homosexual), but informally tolerate most, consenting, nonconventional sexual practices. A spirit of humility, empathy and tragedy will help us to exercise reasonable judgement as we redraw the lines on marriage and sexuality.