More Arguments for Polygamy

Fascinating Stuff.

PolygamyWhile the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice.

…legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn’t legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat… Right now,all polygamous families, including the healthy, responsible ones, are driven into hiding… In the resulting isolation, crime and abuse can flourish unimpeded.

If a woman wants to marry a man, that’s great. If she wants to marry another woman, that’s great too… And if she wants to marry a man with three other wives, that’s her damn choice.

Though polygamists are a minority—a tiny minority, in fact—freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized groups among us.

Deep End’s response at Conservative Home is just so simple and obvious.

Keenan rather understates her case here. Though the formal practice of polygamy may be rare in the west (outside of certain minority cultures), informal polygamy is relatively common – for instance, in the case of a man who maintains a long-term relationship with a partner other than his wife). Why should the ‘other woman’ in such a relationship be marginalised as a ‘mistress’ when she could enjoy equal rights within some form of modern marriage?

As for the interests of children, western societies already tolerate – and, in many respects, encourage – a variety of non-traditional family structures.

Admittedly, the recognition of polygamous marriage would raise a number of legal complications – due to there being more than two people and more than one relationship involved. However, as we’ve seen in this country, same sex marriage has also raised certain complications, which have been resolved in various ways (for instance, by having no legal concept of consummation).

Of course, if you were to ask those who support same sex marriage whether they’d also support polygamous marriage, then most of them would say no – especially the politicians. But on what grounds would they justify their opposition? Certainly, as Jillian Keenan makes clear, the socially liberal case for legalising polygamy is pretty watertight. So what other grounds does that leave?

Well, one could always assert a traditional cultural norm – but social liberals may want to think twice before pulling on that thread.

Come on then liberals – tell me why this argument is wrong.

13 Comments on “More Arguments for Polygamy

    • It’s not a joke in the slightest. The argument is clear and logical. Once marriage is *only* about people who love each other and not about the specific biology of those people geared towards procreation, what is the argument that says “Two is good but three isn’t”?

      • It was the ‘legalizing polygamy will combat rape and child sexual abuse’ that got me. WTF! I thought it must be tongue-in-cheek.

        Actually, I’m not sure polygamy is bad for children. The children have more adults around to bring them up. It’s only a problem if rivalry breaks out (Joseph and the technicoloured dream-coat style), but it doesn’t need to be this way. Sometimes its a solution to the first wife being infertile and the women arrange it themselves and are good friends. We tend to project our own assumptions and fears onto other cultures. I don’t see what on earth it has to do with rape or child sexual abuse – why would this be more likely to happen in polygamous arrangements than monogamous in the first place?

        • I guess her argument is that if polygamous families are in public it’s easier to see where abuse might happen. But you’re right, without any proper evidence you can’t say that polygamous families produce more child abuse then monogamous ones. This argument is getting better every minute isn’t it?

          Where are our liberal friends? Strangely silent….

          • If all parties are happy, I really don’t see why not. In a sense, we’ve already legalisaed polygamy. As people against relaxing the divorce laws pointed out at the time, if a man has children by two wives still living he’s maintaining two households – what’s that if it’s not polygamy? Surely these situations are much harder for the children who live out of a suitcase and only see their father and step-siblings at the weekend? It’s much harder on the pocket as well, not to mention the animosity of the scorned first wife. All because the interfering authorities force this restrictive Christian philosophy of monogamy onto non-believers instead of trusting consenting adults to figure out their own domestic situations.

            • If you look around you can find examples of legal recognition of polygamous relationships – eg where an Islamic man has 2 wives.

              I’d say that the wedge is already in this particular door.

              I’m not sure how – when push comes to ultimate shove – the Human Rights Courts will be able to argue against recognising polygamy.

              If, for example, Mormons changed their teaching back to what it used to be, how do you reject that without risking a discrimination case?

              Unless, of course, we are going to unravel multiculturalism, or start valuing our “heritage” over other people’s values. I don’t see that happening; imagine the squeals.

        • Note to self: must learn to read original unedited articles before jumping in with comments. The ‘child abuse’ was referring to forced marriages of underage girls – not polygamous parents abusing their own children.

  1. Here’s this Christian Socialist’s case against polygamy:

    1. In practice most people who practice polygamy will be Islamists or fundamentalist Mormons, so allowing legal polygamy would hurt women. The author is being overly idealistic when she asserts that most women in these communities enter these relationships of their own free will.

    2. If polygamy became widespread it would lead to an underclass of young straight men who can’t find women to marry, which would destabilize our society.

    3. The case for gay marriage as a right rests on the fact that some people have an chosen and unchangeable orientation towards sexual and romantic relationships with people of their own gender. Therefore saying to gay and lesbian people that “you must marry someone of the other gender or no-one at all” is fundamentally unfair, a form of discrimination. There is no such fundamental orientation towards polygamy. If polygamists don’t like the fact that their marriages aren’t legal they can stop being polygamists. Telling gay people to stop being gay is like telling black people to stop being black, it just doesn’t work that way. That’s why changing the definition of marriage to include same sex couples is critical and a matter of justice, while changing the definition of marriage to include polygamists isn’t.

    Of course, as you have probably figured out I am not an unlimited multiculturalist or cultural relativist- there are limits to my liberalism. I think that when it is clear that our society is being unfair to people because of biological traits which they can’t change then our society needs changing. Thus we stopped discriminating against people of color and women, and we are in the process of stopping discrimination against LGBT people. (If I did think that sexual orientation was chosen and changeable I would be anti-gay.) This doesn’t mean that our society needs to respect every choice made by every individual, particularly when the choice strikes me as inherently antisocial.

    • Here’s the simply response.

      1) How bigotted of you. You are simply perpetuating stereotypes. You are just polyphobic. (See how this works?)
      2) How bigotted of you. You are simply perpetuating stereotypes. You are just polyphobic. (See how this works?)
      3) Unchangeable orientation? Are you accusing me of lying?

      Interestingly, the “Christian Socialist” couldn’t quote the Bible once.

      • My impression, from reading your story, was that you claim that your changed your behavior without changing your sexual orientation, which is why you call yourself post-gay rather then ex-gay. That is to say that you are still attracted to men, even though you are in a heterosexual relationship for theological reasons. I found this to be a refreshing bit of honesty from the conservative side, which is why I think you’re worth engaging with. If you do claim that you have changed which gender(s) you are attracted to, then no, I don’t believe you. I do think that anyone who claims to have changed their sexual orientation (as opposed to their behavior) is lying, yes. There are of course quite a few people who are unchangeably oriented towards both men and women (I’m one of them), and of course for us there is a genuine element of choice in terms of which genders we choose to pursue relationships with. But even that doesn’t involve a change in orientation- the attraction to people of both sexes is still there. ]

        • So let’s be clear – if anyone comes to you and claims to have seen a dramatic shift in their sexual orientation, you reject that because it doesn’t fit the way you think humans should behave and act?

          You are just a bigot aren’t you? And I say that to be deliberately provocative, to be a devil’s advocate. What gives you the right to dictate to someone else what they can and can’t do? What gives you the right to say to someone that they don’t have the sexual orientation they claim to have?

          Do you see how this works?

    • ‘If I did think that sexual orientation was chosen and changeable I would be anti-gay.’

      Could you clarify this sentence? Do you mean that if you thought that sexual orientation was chosen that would make you homophobic, or do you mean that if you thought that people could just stop being gay that you be against same sex relationships? Just curious.

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