Somerville, the great social conservative hope, argued that by allowing people of the same sex to marry each other, marriage would go from being a child centered institution to something based on love and that change would have unarticulated negative societal repercussions. I will not go into the reasons here why the Conservative opposition to Bill 38 was intellectually, morally and legally bankrupt. Suffice it to say, it was. What I want to point out is that when it comes to the nature of marriage Somerville got things hopelessly ass backwardness. SSM did not open the door to marriage being based on romantic love. On contrary, it is because marriage is an institution based on romantic love that opened the door to same sex marriage.
She is making the same mistake again. Believing that SSM is transformative change and not an outflow from what marriage has evolved into being, she mistaking believes that there is a straight line from SSM to polygamy. As she sees it, if marriage is based on romantic love, as she thinks was established with the passage of C 38, there is nothing to say why one person, at least in principle, can not be married two or more people at the same time. What matters is that they love each other. The problem with such an argument is not only is it historically wrong, it skips over virtually all current debate about polygamy. Namely, does the institution of polygamy breed a whole host of social evils? Most people in the West think it does. Somerville thinks she can just make the entire debate go away in just a few short sentences. To wit: “
Also, we need to be careful to distinguish under-age sex, forced marriage, spousal abuse and child abuse from polygamy, itself. These horrible crimes do occur in polygamous marriages - and monogamous ones - and must be dealt with severely.”She is wrong.
As for Somerville herself, perhaps it is because I am a consequentialist and so do not have the time of day for “natural law”, but I think the press is far too deferential and I think she is a very average thinker.