I remember when the debate over same-sex marriage first began.
I debated homosexual activists in the media and explained that it really wasn’t a matter of “marriage equality” as they claimed. After all, if marriage is no longer limited to unions between men and women, why should the institution be limited to couples?
“Ridiculous,” I would be told. “There’s just no demand for polygamy and group marriage.”
I remember laughing and explaining to homosexuals activists, who represent, at most, 1 percent of the population, that polygamy is supported by perhaps 20 percent of the population worldwide, including one of the three major religions.
It was inevitable, I explained, that you could not change the definition of marriage without opening up a Pandora’s box of other taboos like polygamy.
That box has now been blown open – and not just by Muslims, who have been strangely quiet about the same-sex marriage debate, in part, I suspect, because they know where it will lead. It has also been blown open by liberal, secular women, including Jillian Keenan in an article in Slate.
Here’s what she says, often 100 percent validation for what critics of same-sex marriage have been saying: “Recently, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reintroduced a tired refrain: Legalized gay marriage could lead to other legal forms of marriage disaster, such as polygamy. Rick Santorum, Bill O’Reilly, and other social conservatives have made similar claims. It’s hardly a new prediction – we’ve been hearing it for years. Gay marriage is a slippery slope! A gateway drug! If we legalize it, then what’s next? Legalized polygamy? We can only hope.”
“Yes, really,” she writes. “While 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. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.”
She contends that “legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn’t legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat.”
It’s the old story of decriminalizing vices because practitioners are merely driven underground where they escape the oversight of government. And, if there is one thing liberals love, it’s oversight by the government.
“Right now, all polygamous families, including the healthy, responsible ones, are driven into hiding (notwithstanding the openly polygamous Brown family on TLC’s Sister Wives, that is),” she writes. “In the resulting isolation, crime and abuse can flourish unimpeded. Children in polygamous communities are taught to fear the police and are not likely to report an abusive neighbor if they suspect their own parents might be caught up in a subsequent criminal investigation. In a United States with legalized polygamy, responsible plural families could emerge from the shadows – making it easier for authorities to zero in on the criminals who remain there.”
You’ve heard this story before. It’s why we have to legalize illegal aliens. It’s why we have to legalize drugs. It’s why we have to legalize prostitution. The government needs more vices to regulate and control and does such an amazingly efficient job doing so.
She even makes the constitutional case, though the Constitution is silent on the subject of marriage.
“It’s also hard to argue with the constitutional freedom of religious expression that legalized polygamy would preserve,” she writes. “Most polygamous families are motivated by religious faith, such as fundamentalist Mormonism or Islam, and as long as all parties involved are adults, legally able to sign marriage contracts, there is no constitutional reason why they shouldn’t be able to express that faith in their marriages. Legalized polygamous marriage would also be good for immigrant families, some of whom have legally polygamous marriages in their home countries that get ripped apart during the immigration process. (It’s impossible to estimate exactly how many polygamous families live here, since they live their religious and sexual identities in secret. Academics suggest there are 50,000 to 100,000 people engaged in Muslim polygamy in the U.S., and there are thousands of fundamentalist Mormon polygamist families as well.)”
To some of us, this sounds more like a capitulation to Shariah law than concern for the Constitution.
It turns out there’s also a feminist argument for polygamy. Who would have known?
“Finally, prohibiting polygamy on ‘feminist’ grounds – that these marriages are inherently degrading to the women involved – is misguided,” writes Keenan. “The case for polygamy is, in fact, a feminist one and shows women the respect we deserve. Here’s the thing: As women, we really can make our own choices. We just might choose things people don’t like. If a woman wants to marry a man, that’s great. If she wants to marry another woman, that’s great too. If she wants to marry a hipster, well – I suppose that’s the price of freedom. And if she wants to marry a man with three other wives, that’s her damn choice.”
And here’s the kicker: “The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less ‘correct’ than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. 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. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States – and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet.”
See, I told you so.