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Twincestual Discrimination
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Sure, you hear often of discrimination against people who are not given their rightful marriage privileges, but are those you hear about the most often the only ones denied?



My greatest concern with incestuous relationships is not that they're "different" (is that really an argument, by the way?) or that children from such relationships have higher rates of genetic abnormalities (an incestuous couple can simply refrain from having children and we don't prevent non-incestuous couples with high probabilities of genetic abnormalities from having children); it's that there is a high risk of unintended, detrimental power imbalances. Now, this certainly isn't going to apply in all circumstances; there probably won't be any problematic power imbalance between two related persons that never had contact prior to the age of, say, 20. But in the case of an older sibling and a younger sibling (or older and younger cousins to a lesser extent), there is almost always a certain power dynamic built from that sibling relationship that might not bode well for a healthy romantic relationship. Teacher-student relationships, for instance, often have this problem even when both parties are above the age of majority; the nature of such a relationship (much like that between siblings) can lend itself to coercion and an abrogation of genuine consent. While I don't think this is sufficient to bar all incestuous relationships, I do think it constitutes a legitimate concern. (Disclaimer: I talk about not-consented to power imbalances as a problem; as my name might suggest, I am fully comfortable with power imbalances that have been consented to, as in a deliberately-chosen BDSM relationship. My worry is that long-standing and largely sub- or non-conscious power dynamics might not allow incestuous partners an ability to genuinely consent in some cases, creating a substantive risk of abuse or coercion.)

On a completely different point, I also wonder why precisely incestuous relationships require legal recognition in the first place. Of course, there's the point about society coming to accept a certain lifestyle and that's all fine and good, but that's usually NOT the primary reason why LGBT groups fight for marriage equality. Although the message it sends is important, LGBT marriage equality is about marriage BENEFITS--the ability to visit one's partner in the hospital, for instance. It's often the case that such benefits already extend to family--irrespective of whether the family member is in a romantic relationship--so incestuous marriage equality would not be nearly as significant in terms of expanding benefits to partners, precisely because incestuous partners, as family, already receive many (although perhaps not all) of the benefits conferred on married couples.

That said, I do think that this is a topic worth discussing and that "that's different and weird" is completely inadequate as an argument against incest.


I agree with the power dynamic imbalance but I will also point out that there are places where first cousins are legally able to marry and in some instances even siblings. While inbreeding is an issue it is often not a real issue until the second line breeding even occurs.
As a polyamorist I do see a need to either do away with the presumption of benefits of marriage or what constitutes "family" for the medical field. I understand the need to control the numbers of people who visit sick patients but this shouldn't be a place where discrimination is need to limit the number of bodies in a room do so on the basis of first come first served! For doctors who feel that they have the right to decide to push their religious or moral agenda remember your oath: First do no harm!
There are legally recognized and accepted ways of making ANY union free of these sorts of discriminatory practices but it is time consuming and expensive....and may not work anyhow.


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