Legalization of Polygamy?

polygamy-is-still-illegal1

One of the common arguments against gay marriage was the slippery slope argument. If we allow gay marriage, the next stop is surely polygamy, to be followed by cats and dogs living together, people marrying their toasters, and so forth. The recent attempt by Nathan Collier of Montana to get a marriage license for a second contemporaneous marriage (inspired by the Roberts dissent in the SCOTUS decision) seems to point to an imminent fulfillment of this fear, that polygamy will follow hot in the steps of gay marriage and become legalized.

This is of course a big topic, but I would like to make just two points to suggest people don’t need to move into their backyard shelters in anticipation of an immediate Apocalypse.

First, the vast majority of polygamists have no interest in legalization and certainly are not stumping for such a thing. The Montana attempt is an outlier.  Polygamist “marriages” do not involve multiple marriages sanctioned by the state. Rather, only the first marriage is recognized by the state; subsequent marriages are privately treated as such by the family involved and its supporters, but there is no color of legal sanction to those relationships. The vast majority of polygamists simply want decriminalization of polygamy, which is a very different thing from legalization. The Utah Brown decision, if upheld on appeal, is the only kind of legal protection most polygamists are after.

Second, legalizing polygamy is not something that could be effectively done with a single court decision. Once we gave up coverture, marriage in our law became essentially blind as to gender in its particulars (other than the question of who may enter the state in the first place). Now that gay marriage is lawful, our family law does not need a huge overhaul to accommodate it, as it is still a binary between two people only.

Legalizing polygamy would not be anywhere near so simple. It would require an extensive reworking of our law in many areas in order to be workable. Will these be treated as one group marriage (rather like a business association, which would then be governed by a board of some sort), or a series of (nonexclusive) binary marriage contracts? With multiple legal spouses, what do we do about insurance benefits? Who gets to make medical decisions? Child custody issues? Does a polygamous spouse get the immigration benefits of marriage? Which spouse gets social security benefits, or do you allocate them pro rata among all spouses or something like that? How would intestacy work? The practical challenges to legalizing polygamy would be legion.

These legal challenges could be solved by motivated legislatures committed to solving them. After all, writing laws is what they do, and certainly creative solutions to these kinds of conundrums could be found. But in the absence of a substantial constituency backed by public opinion stumping for such legal marital structures, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Comments

  1. hinduFriend says:

    Think you need to defer more to your social betters, who are driving all of this. Women loathe beta-provider males. Your social betters are gonna get multiple women via polygamy. They already have “soft” harems. Wake up.

  2. Mary Lythgoe Bradford says:

    Brilliant! Thanks, Kevin–

  3. Great thoughts, Kevin. Another issue you hint at is the false equivalency between polygamy and marriage equality. While recognizing the rights of gay Americans falls under civil rights, polygamy is not, in my estimation, a civil rights issue. Polygamy is a social arrangement that has nothing to do with an individual’s inherent identity. Now, we can debate whether polygamy is a social arrangement we want to recognize, and I’m open to that, but let’s not pretend like it’s the same situation as denying gay Americans the right to marry at all while allowing heterosexual Americans that right.

  4. I agree with your analysis on SSM not leading to polyandry/polygamy/polygany. However, I wonder if the next laws to go are laws against incest. As a young man in love, why couldn’t I marry my uncle?

  5. “the vast majority of polygamists have no interest in legalization”

    I’ve been reading early Utah Territorial court records, and have seen multiple plural marriage divorces in the probate courts prior to the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, so I’m curious why you think polygamists would have no interest in the legalization of plural marriage.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Amy T, see Anne Wilde’s comments in this article, which I think are an accurate reflection of the attitudes of contemporary Mormon fundamentalist polygamists:

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765676597/Polygamous-Montana-trio-applies-for-wedding-license.html

  7. Mark B. says:

    Your first point is of course equally applicable to gays and lesbians–if you turn the clock back 30 years.

    As to your second, I’m not sure that the difficulty of implementing the change would be relevant to an analysis such as Justice Kennedy’s–if the right to equal dignity that was found to exist in the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection means that people of the same sex can form unions and call them marriages, I don’t see a neutral principle that limits that right of equal dignity to just two persons. Not that I think Mr. Collier will succeed. But Richard Baker didn’t succeed in 1972, either.

  8. I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of legal experts thought similar things about gay marriage fifty years ago. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before group marriages gain the social traction it needs to become legalized. What I’m most certain of is attacks on the family will continue. Gay marriage is a minor issue compared to no fault divorce and elective abortions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if polyamorous relationships is the next battle against stable and healthy families.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Mark B., you’re right that if the Court found legalization of polygamy to be constitutionally required, then they could legalize it and leave cleaning up the (very considerable) mess to Congress and state legislatures. But SCOTUS doesn’t operate in a political vacuum. The lack of a substantial constituency pushing for this, and the the very extensive and challenging legal problems that would result, would I suspect (whether wittingly or not) influence how they approached the 14th Amendment issue in this kind of case. (Just my opinion, of course.)

  10. I do not understand all the pearl clutching about polygamy. Of course it should be legalized, using some of the same arguments as for gay marriage! In particular, as long as we’ve got a system that confers legal benefits on certain types of relationships, we should work to expand those benefits as widely as possibly and not allow the state to dictate which kinds of relationships are legitimate as long as all parties are capable of consent. Most of the arguments against polygamy–that it encourages patriarchy, that it correlates with abuse, that it would be a logistical nightmare–are probably true, but also apply to monogamous marriage.

    It seems like some religious conservatives are using the spectre of polygamy as a cudgel to attack gay marriage supporters (which is especially bizarre when Mormons do it), but instead of being defensive we should embrace this particular slippery slope. As a proud heterosexual, monogamous, married Mormon who would probably leave the church if it ever reinstated polygamy, I say legalize polyamorous marriage today!

  11. Isn’t one of the big sticking points still state/federal aid for polygamous families? What would the mathematical formula be for calculating Pell Grants, income to children ratios for welfare assistance, home mortgage programs, military benefits, employer insurance umbrellas, etc.? (Not that these details determine constitutionality or fairness.)

  12. These are good points. The other barrier to the slippery slope argument is cultural. For better or worse (I tend to think on balance, within constraints, it’s for the better), the Supreme Court’s constitutional jurisprudence is highly sensitive to the evolution of cultural norms. How else do we go from the view that excluding gays from marriage doesn’t present a substantial federal question in 1972 to the Obergefell decision in 2015? In other words, Justice Roberts’s dissent is probably right as a legal matter, but only if we assume that society’s view of polygamy is similar to society’s view of homosexuality. Of course, it’s not at the present time. But could it become so in 20, 30, 40 years? Maybe. But if it does — if by that future date, we have experimented with polygamy in certain quarters (U.S. states or internationally) and determined that it doesn’t have the harms to women and children that many today think it has, then why shouldn’t we extend marriage equality at that point to polygamous relationships? In other words, some slippery slope arguments (including those deployed in the gay marriage debate), they seem to assume that law is driven solely by logic. But as Mr. Justice Holmes famously observed, experience is at least as important. (To be sure, as an active Mormon who views the church’s foray into polygamy as a disastrous exercise in social experimentation, I would prefer to avoid any change in the law that would make it legally possible for the church to return to those dark days. I says this without intending any disrespect to the many valiant church members (including many in my own family history) who entered into such relationships with reluctance out of obedience to prophetic command.)

  13. I am growing more confused by the SCOTUS every day. What difference should it make that something is complicated, or if it is popular? I would think that simple and popular should have no bearing whatsoever in the rulings of the supreme court. I am no fan of legalized polygamy, but I disagree that this is much of a categorical difference with the case for SSM.

  14. Picking up on John Hatch (8:21am) — Obergefell tells us that marriage for same-sex couples is a rights issue, or in other words a matter for the Supreme Court and the Constitution. (That is, the majority, and therefore the law of the case, says so. The dissents would likely disagree.) By contrast, I believe that not just a majority but virtually everybody, including every Justice, would see polygamy as a new arrangement that is a matter for the States and State legislatures, not a Constitutional rights issue at all. Therefore, the individual States would be faced with the difficulties Kevin Barney suggests.
    Turning things around, suppose some one State did work through the complexities and authorize some form of multiple arrangement (multiple binary, or multi-party)? Is there a U.S. Constitutional impediment? A Federal statutory impediment? (Answers are probably “yes” and “yes” in the late 19th century, and “I don’t know” in the 21st century.) What about recognition? Would other States be required to recognize those arrangements? And if so, what rules would apply?

  15. I think it’s worth noting that the Canadian courts upheld the criminalization of polygamy even though SSM has been legal for years. There are real concerns about the effects on women and children (even though the term ‘polygamy’ encompasses both polygyny and polyandry, the majority seems to be a patriarchal-polygynous set-up).

    In any case, I think the LDS church would not return to it, even if it was legalized. They’ve spent too much time and money trying to distance themselves. My personal feeling was that it was necessary from a genealogical point of view (think of the swaths of second + spouses and subsequent children that would be lost if we were held to a strict one man-one woman standard in doing family history work) and not because of some higher law or CK requirement.

  16. Left Field says:

    Implied in a slippery slope argument is that polygamy is a bad thing. But somewhere in my complicated/ambivalent/indifferent views on the subject is an occasional opinion that gay, polygamous, and incestuous marriages among consenting adults all ought to be legal. What we call marriage equality still doesn’t really mean marriage equality. It doesn’t mean that everyone can marry the consenting adult of your choice whom you love. It means that you can marry the consenting adult of your choice whom you love, provided I approve of your relationship. That’s the same thing we had before. We can talk about inbreeding, but is it really the business of the government to regulate that? Can’t people evaluate the risks and make their own choices? The government doesn’t prohibit a marriage (or reproduction) between unrelated people who are known to have genetic traits that are guaranteed to produce severe genetic problems in their offspring. And certainly a marriage between two brothers doesn’t carry any genetic risks from inbreeding. What exactly would be the state’s interest in prohibiting such a relationship?

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a proponent of polygamy or incest even among fully consenting adults. I’m just having trouble coming up with something I’m comfortable with to justify its prohibition. I suspect what it comes down to is that at the present time, we just don’t have the stomach to permit such marriages. And that is exactly what has been the issue for gay marriage.

    I now return from the Land where Angels Fear to Tread…

  17. It’s been argued that being polygamous isn’t inherently part of the person like being gay is. That’s actually false. In mammals where the male is larger, the male usually has multiple mates at the same time (see lions, elk, deer, etc.). Scientists have shown that humans are inherently polygamous as well.

    I’m not saying I want polygamy back, but I am saying that you can’t use the “not innate” argument against it.

  18. Terry H says:

    Elder Boyd K. Packer died this afternoon. Church has confirmed.

    Sorry about breaking the thread. But I didn’t see that anywhere on the site.

  19. With all respect, your analysis is deeply flawed.

    First of all, you underestimate the amount of changes to existing family law required by the shift from man-woman marriages to man-man or woman-woman marriages. Entire sections of code in most states has traditionally been written in gendered terms. There are a wide variety of issues regarding adoption, and inheritance which will need to be resolved. It isn’t at all a simple matter.

    I’m not at all convinced as a qualitative matter that these shifts are categorically less difficult than that which polygamy would require.

    See this amicus brief before the court for more on some of the difficult questions that the shift raises.

    http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/BriefsV5/14-556_amius_neither_kuykendall.authcheckdam.pdf

    Second, and likely more importantly, the Supreme Court’s decision almost directly leads to polygamy. Your retort is that gay marriage is a civil rights issue because it involves immutable characteristics, but equal protection analysis was secondary to the Court’s decision which was rooted in substantive due process/fundamental rights. Justice Kennedy pointed out four facets of marriage which he believed made it apply to gays and lesbians fully. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out in his dissent, all four of these facets apply to polygamous couples. The issue will not be whether polygamy is an innate characteristic, but whether these relationships have the same characteristics of marriage which makes entering into such a union a fundamental right. Many courts will conclude that it does.

    Indeed, the fact that this has already happened right here in Utah shows that your argument is faulty. While the Utah court merely decriminalized polygamy, it is a natural step based on the recent ruling to extend that to recognition of polygamy. There is little preventing a court from doing so.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Daniel, the amicus brief you linked gives several interesting examples of issues in family law that will need to be tweaked in light of the legality of gay marriage. Thanks for linking it. I acknowledge that such issues exist; still, to me they seem to be far less daunting than those that would arise from transitioning from a binary relationship to (a) non-binary relationship(s).

    I simply don’t believe that SCOTUS will be legalizing polygamy any time soon. (I’m willing to bet my car that polygamy will not be legalized by SCOTUS in the next 20 years.) The Court does not operate in a cultural vacuum. In the absence of a substantial call for legalized polygamy by those affected (and such a call by a random guy in Montana ain’t gonna cut it), and without substantial public approval, I simply don’t see SCOTUS legalizing polygamy. The Court can’t help but be influenced by shifts in the wider culture. Such a shift has demonstrably occurred vis-a-vis gay marriage. Shows like Big Love, Sister Wives and The Five Browns have perhaps garnered some appreciation and sympathy for (some) polygamists, but this is nothing on the scale of the contemporary support for gay marriage. When even 61% of young Republicans support gay marriage, that is a definite cultural movement. I suspect such a shift will never occur vis-a-vis polygamy, or if it does it lies decades in the future at the very least. The appropriate distaste for FLDS-style polygamy will be a very powerful brake preventing any kind of a widespread cultural shift on this issue.

    It is interesting to me that one argument against gay marriage was that it was supposed to harm hetero-marriage as an institution, but I could never figure out what the harm was supposed to be. Apparently it would take potential partners out of the hetero-marriage market, but since such persons are gay they were not meaningfully in that market to begin with (and I am not a supporter of MOMs). But in the case of polygamy, one could make a case for how it would harm marriage as an institution. In a closed system, high-status males would bogart the available women for wives, leaving low-status males out in the cold (and leading to phenomena like the FLDS “lost boys,” where young men are evicted from the community to make it easier for the leaders to marry the limited supply of available women).

    While I simply do not believe SCOTUS is anywhere close to legalizing polygamy, I personally wouldn’t be scandalized by such a legalization (if there were controls in place to prevent the substantial potential harms deriving from that marriage form). I am descended from polygamists on both sides, and I admire and respect my ancestors, who I suspect would have been flummoxed by the ironic horror so many Mormons are expressing at the possibility of polygamy belng legalized.

  21. Kevin, it’s gonna happen. I remember back in 2008 there were folks trying to calm us crazy conservatives down about prop. 8. We were up in arms about the slippery slope from state legalization to federal legalization. And, well, here we are.

  22. #lovewins!

    Unless, of course, love winning requires the uprooting of long established socio-legal traditions.

    It’s amazing how quickly the sound and fury about love and dignity and inalienable rights is fading away, now that your pet constituency has gotten their way. It’s like you guys didn’t believe your own talking points, or something.

  23. John Hatch, I’ve always been a bit bewildered by the reasoning you express here. Can you really argue that one’s sexual orientation is more important than one’s religious beliefs? Perhaps you say, “Well, people change their sexual orientation less frequently than they change their religion, generally speaking, and that makes it more inherent to a person’s identity, and therefore more constitutionally protected.” But 1) there is no such “inherent identity” test in the Constitution, 2) sexual orientation is not mentioned anywhere as a civil right (it’s in the mysterious penumbra! we sniffed it out!), and 3) religious freedom actually IS enumerated as a civil right, and in the First Amendment, of all places, indicating its preeminent importance. So I really can’t fathom the argument that polygamy, where a sincerely and deeply held religious belief, deserves less protection under the Constitution than gay marriage.

  24. Kevin is right here because a social change can be endorsed by the Court once it has been through the long struggle of gaining acceptance through all the myriad channels in which the change impacts society. It is a slow and gradual evolution. Gay marriage did not start with Prop 8 in 2008, but long before that in Hawaii, back to a 1989 cover story by Andrew Sullivan, and earlier doctoral work by others. It has more than a generation of work built into it. The struggle was internal at first, as conservative thinkers like Sullivan worked against gay activists on the marriage idea (many of the key lgbt orbanizations actively worked against gay marriage in the earlier years of the idea).

    Then, when the Court articulates how existing constitutional principles apply to the new social arrangement, it does so only while noting how the specific social change already shows itself to be workable in all the myriad ways through which it struggled. The constitutional principles articulated exist in this context, as they always do, because our society arranges itself through a tradition of behavior and not in alignment with abstract principles.

    Polygamy has no credibility in this space because it has not worked itself in to the social fabric in any meaningful way. It could do so at some point, sure, but there will be a lot of hard work and proofs of its viability. Because it hasn’t even started down this road, it is right to say it isn’t happening any time soon.

  25. So DCL what gather from your assessment: as a matter of principle based on the reasoning that created SSM, polygamy is no different, but because the people making the pro-SSM decisions are (apparently) unprincipled and care more about popularity and social acceptance and polygamists aren’t well organized culture warriors, polygamy won’t happen any time soon.

  26. Scott Roskelley says:

    Polygamy will not be legalized since it is associated with mormons and Warren Jeffs. Liberal judges would have nothing to do with it. However if a popular actress who is openly bisexual seeks to marry both the woman and guy of her dreams as a 3way marriage it would get through. If the LDS church reversed its position and legalized sec 132 then polygamy could be legalized in Utah easily, but likely only in that state.

  27. Left Field says:

    The Utah constitution prohibits polygamy and requires that any amendment of that provision has to be approved by congress.

  28. Glenn Thigpen says:

    Kevin, et al,
    I would not care to prophesy how quickly or how slowly a polygamy or polyamory movement might gain steam. Few would have predicted ten years ago how quickly attitudes have changed about homosexuality and SSM.
    The Supreme court does sometimes respond to social trends in defining new rights and in abrogating rights. The polygamy issue was one such. That was the basis for ruling against the religious freedom defense in the Reynolds case.
    However, the Supreme court bucked the majority social views in civil rights arena way back when. I do think that Justice Roberts was pretty much on target with his comments. But I think that polyamory will be the actual next wave with polygamy naturally going along for the ride. In addition to the Browns making their move, there is an uptick interest in making polyamory legal. Here is one link. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/06/29/polyamorous-rights-advocates-see-marriage-equality-coming-for-them. I think it will come, I just do not know how fast.

    Glenn

  29. Clark Goble says:

    We should be careful here. First, while polygamists tied to apostate groups from Mormonism often don’t want illegal polygamy they are often a minority or polygamists. I’d lay good odds that immigrants from Africa and the Middle East make up a much larger group of polygamists. Now many of them don’t want it know for reasons fairly similar to Mormon apostate groups. But I suspect many would like to be out in the open.

    While it’s understandable that this issue is being viewed from a Mormon angle due to shows like Sister Wives or the like, I suspect the real challenges will end up being tied to immigrants.

    Regardless of how uncomfortable the topic is, I think many people probably correctly think that moving the practices into the light will enable better social services and stopping domestic abuse. A great story on this from a few years ago was this one in the New York Times.

  30. Clark Goble says:

    Whoops. That should read, “…often don’t want legal polygamy…” I didn’t mention the reasons but welfare is one. Preventing disruption to the relationships and culture is an other.

    I should add that if a lawsuit pops up, it’ll almost certainly do better with a loving polygamist marriage of immigrants. Expect a lot of attorneys to already being eyeing test cases.

  31. Clark Goble says:

    Kevin (8:13) I think they’ll legalize it within a decade. Most of the same problems that really incentivized the SSM decision apply to polygamy. Consider child custody cases for instance where polygamist wives aren’t recognized. Consider hospital rights. Nearly every case you could bring up on practical grounds for why gays were being denied practical rights by not having marriage apply equally to polygamous wives. In addition the fact Kennedy decided the law the way he did sets precedence. And Kennedy’s reasoning simply wasn’t along utilitarian grounds. Nearly every part of the reasoning Kennedy made could be applied to the polygamous wife of an immigrant. Perhaps more.

    Now the counter move is the utilitarian grounds. And certainly you’re right that polygamy seems to have more obvious social ills than gay marriage. As I said I think Kennedy’s decision undercuts that reasoning somewhat. But one could also make the counterargument that keeping such marriages in the dark increases the damage. Finally you can be sure that some polygamous wife will make a demand reading marriage rights for citizenship if her husband gets naturalized.

    It’s interesting in all this that while people are pointing fingers and Mormons and LDS oriented apostate groups the person who has the closest ties to polygamists isn’t Romney or Hatch but Pres. Obama whose father was a polygamist.

  32. Gerald Smith says:

    I think that Justice Kennedy’s last paragraphs of the decision established that government should not stand in the way of true love. Such a statement, now part of the official record, will impact how we look at other forms of marriage, including plural marriage, incestuous relationships, etc. In picking up one end of the stick, the SCOTUS will now have to pick up the other end, as well.

  33. Is Kennedy’s SSM approach about love or civil rights, Gerald? And why would you obfuscate on that — what are your incentives for doing so?

  34. Also, this: “It’s not same-sex marriage that leads to polygamy. It’s the denial of female education, property, income, and right of choice in marriage.” – David Frum.

  35. LDS, not quite what I meant because it is not the reasoning of Justice Kennedy that created SSM based families. It’s the practical facts on the ground. It’s the way in which intestacy (and the way wills are interpreted), health care decisions, social security and VA benefits, child custody, divorce, and community property, have all worked themselves out in gay marriages without abrogating the substantive rights of any of the parties or causing other social harms. Just because polygamists face many of these same issues does not mean that the language and idea of equality can get them through all of these hurdles in ways that continue to protect all of the parties.

  36. Adam E. says:

    I agree with what I understand to be the point of the post – that there are some mechanical differences between legalizing same-sex marriage and legalizing polygamous marriages – and also the comments (e.g. Mark B.) that ultimately, these differences will not matter to judges. When the primary basis for granting a right is “love” and how two people feel, then there is no practical reason for withholding marriage from polygamists. On the other hand, judges are neither legally consistent or practical. They decide according to their politics, and interpret the law however they need to to agree with their politics. The right to practice polygamy may not be initially granted to a white FLDS family, but I could see a Muslim family being granted the right, since more justices may be more sympathetic to Muslims as being persecuted by our society. Kevin is right that it may not happen soon, because not enough people in our society are pushing for it, and justices are ultimately political creatures, but I do think it is just a matter of time, and the same-sex marriage legal opinion(s) will be the basis for the polygamy opinions.

  37. Gerald Smith says:

    Trond, it is because the reasons given in a winning decision are often used to argue future cases. Since Justice Kennedy placed a big portion of his decision on the condition of supporting loving relationships (whether one agrees with it or not), it becomes a staple argument for other groups who wish the same legal protections. Why shouldn’t a polygamist receive protections for all of his wives, including medical, death benefits, etc? And given it is a loving relationship, perhaps one that’s endured for decades, why should that one not receive recognition?

  38. I think “…the denial of female education, property, income, and right of choice in marriage” comes from a place of sectarian practice of polygamy. I don’t know why it would have any place in a secular, educated Western type of environment, which is exactly where SSM arises.

  39. Take Amy, married to Bob, and their good friend Carl. They’re all in the late ’20s, and after some frank discussion, they think it would be great if they get together and Amy have two husbands. They’re already having sexual relations. She’s already a stay at home mother, has a child with Bob and is trying to get pregnant with Carl. Both Bob and Carl have decent jobs. They buy a duplex and maintain somewhat of a separate household. They say they love each other. What possible argument could you use against allowing Amy and Carl to get married?
    Don’t know who is the father of next child — so what, who cares? Do some DNA testing if you really want to know. She’ll become a baby maker — so what, who cares, that’s none of our business. She can already do exactly what she’s doing, and in fact has been doing it, for several years without government sanction, thank you. It’ll encourage incest — no it won’t. Why would any of them want to have sex with their own children? Amy won’t be educated — Amy is already educated — earned her PhD in Women’s Studies, in fact. And so forth and so on. There isn’t a single argument an SSM supporter can make against this plural arrangement that doesn’t come off as hypocritical.

  40. Gerald Smith, the basis for the Obergefell decision is the confluence of the protections afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses. The reasoning is indeed imprecise, as the Chief Justice amply explained in his dissenting opinion. However, it is not simply based in the love between people. It is based in the moral question of whether civil rights should be denied to a certain segment of the population simply because they were born gay. It raises some level of concern, don’t you think, that we are comfortable advocating that such people who were born gay should indeed experience deprivations of civil rights as compared to citizens who were born straight, and based on the majority’s religious determination that committed, monogamous romantic relationships and families of the 2% who were born gay are sinful and should therefore be prohibited by a secular state that supposedly does not establish a religion?

  41. Mark Henderson says:

    Even though Slippery Slope is one of the classical logical fallacies, I think the concern is valid in this case. Here is a thought experiment I did a while back: If the reason for allowing Gay Marriage is so that those involved can live real, fulfilled lives, how many people would it take for bi-sexuals to be satisfied in a marriage relationship? Clearly the answer is four. This of course would not be polygamy but rather polyamory like that practiced by the Oneida Community, but the point remains.

  42. it's a series of tubes says:

    Mark, you might want to check out the fantastic “Another Story, or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” by Ursula K. LeGuin, and the concept of 4-person marriage or “sedoretu” presented therein.

  43. Tubes – I reviewed the sedoretu reference, very interesting. But for the homosexual aspect, you could change the parameters around and have hetersexual couplings among the two couples. Of course, that is the problem with changing the definition of marriage. People can already cohabitate in any number of combinations with varying sexual choices — hetero, bi, or homo. (If the Jerry Springer show reflects what’s going on with those in their ’20’s, then casual sex among genders not at all uncommon) If we’re going to look at those relationships solely under the guise of #lovewins, then I still say all such combinations merit legal recognition at this point.