Thursday, December 19, 2013

Same-sex marriage not "slippery slope" to polygamy

With the federal judge ruling in the "Sister Wives" case, some are blaming same-sex marriage as the "slippery slope" leading to polygamy. 

While it's true that the advance of same-sex marriage may embolden those for polygamy to be more vocal in the public and the courts, same-sex marriage in and of itself does not lead to polygamy, as explained well by Jonathan Rauch in this NPR interview (and likely in his book as well).

"Same sex marriage leads away from polygamy, not for it. It's odd to argue that because children need parents, you should be against polygamy. That's one of the arguments polygamists make - that, you know, you have more moms and a dad. Isn't that great? In fact, the problem with polygamy is exactly what's good about same-sex marriage, which is that everyone should have the opportunity to marry. 
We are not asking, gay marriage advocates, for the right to marry everybody or anybody, just to marry somebody. We're asking to have that opportunity. The problem with polygamy, historically, and there's tons of literature about this, Michel - polygamy is the oldest form of marriage and the most predominant form of marriage in human society - the problem with it is that it almost invariably means one man, multiple wives, and when one man takes two wives, some other man gets no wife. 
So a lot of people lose the opportunity to marry and you get societies where you've got a lot of unmarried young males who are very unhappy, a lot of social disruption, a lot of violence. And there's a whole academic literature on this. Gay marriage changes none of that. In fact, gay marriage leads us away from that to a society where everyone can marry.... 
...we got rid of polygamy for very good reasons long before gay marriage came along, and all those reasons will still be valid and all of those reasons continue to hold in a world where you have gay marriage. 
Remember, fundamentally what I tell people is when straights get the right to marry three people or their dog or a toaster, gay people should have that too. But until then, that's not what we're talking about. We just want to be able to marry someone instead of no one.”