March 17, 2006
Doug, over at Below the Beltway, is talking about gay marriage and polygamy. It seems that there’s been a dustup between some prominent bloggers and some prominent op-ed columnists over whether the government sanctioning gay marriages will eventually lead to polygamy. It appears that Doug, like I do, doesn’t see a way to accept the validity of the former and not of the latter. And it also appears (although I may be reading into this) that Doug, like I, doesn’t see a problem with that. See his entry for the various links (debates between Charles Krauthammer, Andrew Sullivan, and Ann Althouse), but here’s one of the specific things that Doug wrote:
One of the strongest arguments in favor of gay marriage that I’ve encountered is the one that says that the government has no right to intrude into the personal relationships of consenting adults and forbid them from entering into a legal status, in this case marriage, that they wish to enter into freely. This doesn’t mean that government is endorsing the relationship, any more than it endorses a producer of pornographic films who forms a corporation to run his busines. It merely means that the government is allowing people to engage in consenual activities that affect nobody but themselves. The logic, if you accept it, seems to me to be unassailable and its hard for me to find an argument that says that polygamy is per se different.
The way I look at this, it’s coming, and it’s going to happen in the relatively near future. You can make peace with it, you can fight it, or you can try to play at the margins a little to allow both camps to accept it. Although, for some people, they’ll never accept that others are living lives a little differently than they are, but that’s too bad for them. That’s freedom.
I think the answer is simple. Make marriage what it’s supposed to be, a religious covenant. Leave the state to doing one thing, and one thing only: sanctioning civil unions between consenting adults, whether it be two adults or several. Yes, it’s going to be messy, as the laws for next of kin, for inheritance, etc, are not yet developed. But they will be.
Here was my response on Doug’s blog (although the comment doesn’t seem to be going through, as Blogger has just crashed again):
We’ll probably have gay marriage in the US within 5 years (in some states), and pretty well within 20 years nationwide. 20-25 years after that, we’ll have legally sanctioned polygamous marriages. Whether or not they’ll be officially called marriages by the governments providing the license, remains to be seen. But this is coming, whether people like it or not.
We can either fight the battle as one of morality between christians and “those heathens”, which is bound to eventually be lost by the christians, as they’re creating a system by which their religion confers upon them benefits that are being denied to others wrongfully. Alternatively, we can understand and trumpet the idea that marriage is a religious concept, and that the state shouldn’t be involved. If the religious folks really want to protect the sanctity of marriage, they’ll divorce it from the State (pun intended )…
Personally, I don’t really care if two gays or 8 polys want to “marry” each other. It doesn’t affect me either way. Although, I can imagine what the introduction of QINKs (quad-income-no-kids) will do to real estate values!
The simple fact is that the line of reasoning that says if you accept gay marriage, it will lead to people demanding the government recognize polygamous marriage, is right on. All the common arguments in support of gay marriage apply just as strongly to polygamous marriage, and all the arguments against polygamous marriage apply to gay marriage. They’re a package deal (although they won’t be accepted at the same time, one will lead to the other). You can’t rest in the middle on this one, you either support both or you support neither. And since I can’t really see any logical issues with allowing two or more consenting adults to contractually agree to what I would call a civil union, I’ll have to count myself in the camp of supporting both. If the religious folks really want to “save” marriage, they’ll put it back in the church’s hands, not in the government’s.
A Stitch in Haste linked with On Krauthammer on Polygamy
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