Sem Harry Reid, D-Nev.

It must be an election year.

The reason I know this is because the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, is trying to curry favor with traditional marriage defenders by launching a crusade against polygamy.

The reason Reid feels safe doing this is clear: There is little electoral support, even among Democrats, to legalize polygamy.

It isn’t based on principle. It’s based on polls.

Reid last week called for a federal task force to investigate polygamist communities in Utah, Arizona and Nevada.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Mormon senator from Nevada urged the Justice Department to look into the interstate activities of sect leader Warren Jeffs and other polygamist activists.

Jeffs, 50, is charged with two felony counts of rape as an accomplice, accused of arranging a “spiritual marriage” between an underage girl and an older man. Each count carries a penalty of five years to life in prison.

The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was arrested Aug. 28 by the Nevada Highway Patrol during a traffic stop. He is being held without bail. He had been a fugitive for nearly two years when he was arrested. Besides the Utah charges, Jeffs is facing two felony charges in Mohave County, Ariz., for a similarly arranged marriage involving an underage girl.

“For too long, this outrageous activity has been disguised in the mask of religious freedom,” Reid said. “But child abuse and human servitude have nothing to do with religious freedom and must not be tolerated.”

That’s all well and good. But it would seem to be a simple matter to prosecute Jeffs for violating two state laws. After all, polygamy is already illegal in all 50 states. So, why is Reid so anxious to turn this matter into a federal case?

And the irony is that Reid and many others in his party seem to have no problem with legalizing – by hook or judicial crook – same-sex marriage.

As judicial scholars such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and others have noted, the very same legal and moral justifications for same-sex marriage would make it nearly impossible to outlaw polygamy.


What do those promoting same-sex marriage say is their primary reason?

They say it is discrimination to define marriage as only a union between one man and one woman. If that is so, how can it not be discrimination to define marriage as a union between just two adults?

I’ve asked the question of those promoting same-sex marriage how they can make such distinctions with a, pardon the expression, “straight” face, and the answer is always the same: There is just no great demand for polygamy in the country.

Unfortunately, that response fails the truth test on two counts:

  • Back in March, I showed that there is a growing movement of polygamy activists that has been rejuvenated by the same-sex marriage argument. It was as predictable as clockwork. Scalia predicted it in his dissent in the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Texas’ anti-sodomy laws.

  • If “demand” is the primary justification for rewriting the most basic marriage laws, then those laws are based on nothing immutable. The values that shape those laws mean nothing. As soon as demand is sufficient, we will need to adopt new laws permitting pederasty, inter-species unions, incest, you name it.

So what Reid is doing here is not defending the institution of marriage at all. He is merely trying to get votes for himself and his party in an election year. He is doing it in a manner that demonstrates his own moral relativism. He is doing it in a way that is disingenuous. He is doing it in a way that shows he will condone any behavior that can generate a sizable constituency. If polygamists ever become a strong enough voting bloc, watch for the Democrats to embrace them and become their political spear-carriers.

Does Harry Reid believe same-sex marriage is about ending “discrimination”? Or does he believe it is about ending only a certain kind of “discrimination”? What does he really have in mind?

What about bisexuals who love both men and women? Should they be denied the right to marry one of each?

Don’t expect any enterprising newsmen to ask the tough questions of Harry Reid. These are the thorny questions without pat political answers. He would rather pretend that changing an age-old, tried-and-true institution overnight is no problem. He’d like to pretend there will be no unintended consequences. He’d like to pretend this is really no big deal. He and most of his Democratic Party colleagues would like to pretend this is just another battle for “civil rights.”

Why is Harry Reid against polygamy? Because he doesn’t like it.

Yet he accuses those against same-sex marriage of being “intolerant.”

The truth is we’re all intolerant of things we don’t like. Harry Reid and the Democrats just draw the line in a different place than most Americans. His line is not based on anything more than his own preferences, while the lines drawn by the defenders of traditional marriage cite thousands of years of historical and religious experience.

In other words, Harry Reid supports some kinds of discrimination. Everyone does. Harry Reid and the same-sex marriage advocates just want to be able to pick and choose which traditions are immoral based on their own biases, their own predilections, their own worldview, their own patterns of behavior, their own morality.

Here’s the question every single American needs to ponder: If marriage is redefined in a radical new way to eliminate any kind of “discrimination,” what possible justification could there be to continue to discriminate against group marriage or consensual incest?

The reason this is such a troublesome issue for the same-sex marriage activists is because they know their position is extremely unpopular as it is – even if they could somehow contain their demand to the issue of allowing Bruce to marry Lance and Heather to marry Wanda. It gets even stickier when one marriage involves all four of them.

One same-sex activist told me not to worry about polygamy because there was just no demand for it.

Nonsense. I would suggest to you there is a far bigger demand for polygamy in this country than there is for same-sex marriage. After all, there are already tens of thousands practicing it. I would also suggest there is more tradition to support polygamy and fewer religious and moral objections to it.

Give Harry Reid and the Democrats who support same-sex marriage a big zero for consistency and intellectual honesty.

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