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Polygamy foes look to amend Constitution

The American Family Association is urging support for a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., that would define marriage as one man and one woman.

The proposal comes after a legal scholar admitted that the arguments used to justify same-sex marriage will pave the way for legalization of polygamy and incest.

“We have a reached a frightening impasse,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “I fear the day just years from now when marriage has absolutely no definition at all.”

He cited a recent commentary by Kent Greenfield, a Boston College law school professor and Law Fund Research Scholar. Greenfield in 2011 wrote that members of the Occupy Wall Street movement pursue “a more substantive and robust view of liberty” than members of the tea party.

“This view of freedom often requires government assistance and attention,” he explained. “To protect people from discrimination, you need government to penalize it. To ameliorate poverty, you need government to create educational systems, school lunch programs, and homeless shelters.”

Greenfield, who writes of “our arguments for expanding the marriage right,” frankly discusses arguments that make “us sound dangerously close to those who oppose same-sex marriage by claiming it is ‘unnatural.'”

“As a matter of constitutional rationale, there is indeed a slippery slope between recognizing same-sex marriages and allowing marriages among more than two people and between consenting adults who are related,” Greenfield, a professor of law at BC, said in a recent online column.

Wildmon said that after marriage is increasingly watered down “until it is meaningless, marriage won’t be anything but a freewill agreement between any two people, or more than two people.”

“Since marriage is ultimately about the optimal nurturing environment for vulnerable young children, destabilizing the institution of marriage is a terrible thing to do to America’s children,” he said.

“God gave us the responsibility to protect this sacred union, and we should resist any effort to destroy it. What God has defined, man must not redefine.”

Huelskamp’s House Joint Resolution 51 is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would make marriage legal only between a man and a woman.

It states: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

The Kansas congressman has admitted it might be an uphill battle to protect traditional marriage but said he won’t know whether it will fly until he tries it.

In his article for The American Prospect, Greenfield said the left “is in this bind in part because our arguments for expanding the marriage right to same-sex couples have been so compelling.”

“Marriage, we’ve said, is about defining one’s own family and consecrating a union based on love. We’ve voiced these arguments in constitutional terms, using claims arising from the doctrines of ‘fundamental rights’ and equal protection,” Greenfield said.

So shouldn’t polygamists make the same arguments?

“What it boils down to is that when the government wants to exclude groups from something important like marriage, it has to show good reasons for the exclusions. And prejudice – simply thinking something is ‘icky’ – doesn’t count as a reason,” Greenfield said.

He said a possible argument is that polygamy and incest are “coercive.” And he also suggests same-sex marriage proponents could argue that polygamy and incest are “choices.”

“Maybe I am speaking out of school here, but arguments for marriage equality do not really depend on the claim that people have no choice about who they are. Rather, the argument that resonates most with Americans is that LGBTQ people have the same right to make choices about their families as straight people. … Are we confident that science will show that people who are polyamorous or who are attracted to a cousin are not hardwired that way?”

On Huelskamp’s website, he explains: “I firmly believe that marriage should be between one man and one women only. I was the proud sponsor of the Kansas Marriage Amendment, which passed overwhelmingly and with a record turnout in 2005, and I will continue to defend traditional marriage here in Washington.”

The dispute was escalated with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and its failure to review a decision by a homosexual judge in California that homosexuals there must be given marriage rights.

In a recent column, WND Founder and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah already raised the issue of marriage rights for polygamists and others.

“So why is one ‘lifestyle’ affirmed by the popular culture, the political class and the judiciary and the other is ignored – even to the point of jailing those who dare to practice it? This is not a rhetorical question. I really want an answer from someone who believes the right, just, moral course of action is to redefine marriage as an institution between any two people, regardless of their sex. It’s a question that deserves an answer as we march, without thought, into a brave new world of sexual revolution, casting aside 6,000 years of human tradition inspired by God’s law and an institution that has formed the cornerstone of civilization,” he said.

WND also recently reported on the reaction from those who advocate for multiple partners following the Supreme Court decisions.

“We polyamorists are grateful to our brothers and sisters for blazing the marriage equality trail,” Anita Wagner Illig told U.S. News and World Report.

“I would absolutely want to seek multi-partner marriage — it would eliminate a common challenge polyamorists face when two are legally married and others in their group relationships aren’t part of that marriage,” she said.

Illig, head of the group Practical Polyamory, argued it’s a matter of equality – the concept cited by the U.S. court in its decision.

“A favorable outcome for marriage equality is a favorable outcome for multi-partner marriage, because the opposition cannot argue lack of precedent for legalizing marriage for other forms of non-traditional relationships,” she said.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey predicted exactly what appears to be developing.

The London Daily Mail reported Carey told Prime Minister David Cameron that an “equal marriage” proposal would have further consequences.

Carey pointed out some British lawmakers are recognizing that if they permit same-sex marriage, there would be no reason to bar two sisters from being married or multiple-partner arrangements.

A California Supreme Court justice, Marvin Baxter, issued a similar warning when his court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2008.

Voters later that year overruled the decision, adopting a state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, that defined marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. But a homosexual federal judge, Vaughn Walker, struck down Proposition 8 in 2010.

Baxter dissented from the majority 2008 opinion that created same-sex marr for a short time in the state, arguing the consequences of the decision were not thought out.

He wrote: “The bans on incestuous and polygamous marriages are ancient and deeprooted, and, as the majority suggests, they are supported by strong considerations of social policy. … Our society abhors such relationships, and the notion that our laws could not forever prohibit them seems preposterous.

“Yet here, the majority overturns, in abrupt fashion, an initiative statute confirming the equally deeprooted assumption that marriage is a union of partners of the opposite sex. The majority does so by relying on its own assessment of contemporary community values, and by inserting in our Constitution an expanded definition of the right to marry that contravenes express statutory law.”

His warning?

“Who can say that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, an activist court might not rely on the majority’s analysis to conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified?”

Carey’s warning was nearly the same.

“Once we let go of the exclusivity of a one-man, one-woman relationship with procreation linking the generations, they why stop there?” he said. “If it is about love and commitment, then it is entirely logical to extend marriage to two sisters bringing up children together. If it is merely about love and commitment, then there is nothing illogical about multiple relationships, such as two women and one man.”

It was not even a year ago when Brazil, which started out by expanding marriage to same-sex duos nearly a decade ago, allowed three people in a polygamous relationship to have a civil union.

The man and two women had been living together for several years. Public notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues allowed the trio’s relationship to be formalized.

Polyamorists in Canada, which is ahead of the United States by several years in expanding the definition of marriage, are demanding formal recognition.