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Witte: Same-sex marriage?

The logical case for same-sex marriage seems nearly ineluctable today. In the course of the past three decades, American state laws have effectively reduced marriage to a terminal sexual contract between consenting adults. Prenuptial and separation contracts allow parties to define their own rights and duties within the marital estate and thereafter. Unilateral no-fault divorce statutes have reduced marital dissolution to a formality. Lump sum marital property exchanges provide many divorcing parties with a clean break to marry anew. Criminal prosecutions for fornication, adultery, polygamy, and other classic sexual crimes have largely fallen aside. Free speech laws protect all manner of sexual expression, short of obscenity. Privacy laws protect all manner of sexual conduct, short of exploitation of children or abuse of others. Given such generous freedoms of marriage and sexual privacy, many states may feel hard pressed to resist the next logical step to legalize same-sex marriages.