Polygamy Steps Up

Now on the horizon:

  • The AP reports that “A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.”
  • A commentary in Politico by Fredrik deBoer aruges “It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy, with the subhead: “Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism.”
  • Jonathan Rauch responds (also in Politico) No, Polygamy Isn’t the Next Gay Marriage.
  • Similarly, Cathy Young writes at Time Polygamy Is Not Next.
  • In response, a commentary in by Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review asks Is Polygamy on the Right Side of History?, contending that Rauch and Young are naïve if they think that the polygamous marriage movement isn’t going to ride the same emotional appeal as same-sex marriage.

That’s a lot of focus in the week following the Supreme Court’s landmark gay marriage ruling!

While there are far fewer polygamy advocates than gay people who wanted to marry, it’s clear that the polyamorous are now making the same kinds of arguments that advocates of same-sex marriage equality advanced. I have no idea how this will play out, but the debate is clearly gaining prominence.

More. The Washington Post chimes in with Is polygamy next in the marriage debate?:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts’s dissenting opinion raised the question of whether the court’s rationale could be used to legalize plural marriage down the road.

“Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not,” Roberts wrote. “Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world.”

Some are now using Roberts’s arguments to revisit the idea of legalized polygamy.

Well, Roberts seems to have opened the door.

4 Comments for “Polygamy Steps Up”

  1. posted by Houndentenor on

    Polygamy would require a serious restructuring of marriage laws. Same sex marriage did not because most laws involving marriage were already written in gender-neutral language. This is not the same thing at all. Even so, those who oppose the legalization of polygamy should get started on sound legal arguments, not emotional propaganda, in case these cases go to trial. And unlike with gay marriage, using the Bible will not work since polygamy is widely practiced in the Bible and never condemned (except once and only for men seeking to become deacons in their church).

  2. posted by Lori Heine on

    More homocon useful idiocy.

    If social conservatives want to avoid some major shift in society that would bring about a demand for legalized polygamy, they would be doing things very differently than they have been. The economic empowerment of women, and our greater autonomy in society, is the greatest safeguard against any mass breakout-rash of polygamy.

    Laws change when societal customs change. Conservatives, like progressives, often fail to understand this. The tail does not wag the dog.

    The most that would happen, by way of polygamy ever becoming practiced here (outside of Colorado City, Arizona or a few Sharia-observing enclaves) is something akin to what happened in the Sixties. Some young people, in communes and such, practiced experimental modes of living, including group marriage. For all but a few eccentrics, it fizzled out and died a well-deserved death. Decades later, nearly all of those adventuresome young people are now monogamously married, with kids and even grandkids from those monogamous unions.

    I’m tired of the pandering. People need to stop letting themselves be jerked around by half-baked, Aunt Pittypat-clamoring-for-the-smelling-salts rhetoric like the sort we’re hearing, post SCOTUS ruling, on IGF.

  3. posted by Jorge on

    This does not bother me. We can always pass a constitutional amendment making marriage between two people.

    And if that doesn’t work, we can always pass a law making civil unions between two people, and then reversing which one (marriage or civil unions) we give preferential treatment to.

    People think just because the Supreme Court said something that random court cases create anything they want, but things are never so simple.

  4. posted by Tom Jefferson III on

    1. I think it is very dishonest and cynical to compare racial or sexual based discrimination in marriage law, to the number of people that a man or woman be legally married to any any time.

    2. Oddly enough people (almost) always talk about polygamy in terms of a man having multiple wives. Few women — with an education — are eager to become wife number 2, 3 or 4. This is why such marriages get forced onto women (or girls) or a case of some sort of very, very, religious fundamentalist group that seeks polygamy as an extension of the man having rule of thy woman folk.

    3. What no comment about the Kentucky county clerks (two counties I believe) that have decided that they can pick and choose which laws that have to follow?

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