Polygamy Equality

With Republicans and libertarians rushing headlong to fundamentally transform America’s marriage laws, I thought I’d make an observation. If marriage is no longer defined as one man and one woman, there is no chance that it will not include more than one of each, nor extend to marrying children. That’s because in reality it already does.

In the recent mania to redefine marriage, several straw men have come up. Opponents of redefining marriage have erroneously compared state recognition of homosexual marriage to recognizing the bonds of matrimony between adults who marry children, between close relatives, or even cross-species marriage.

Or is it so erroneous? After all, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Maryland allow pregnant teens or teens who have already had a child to get married without parental consent. With parental consent, many states will recognize marriages by those younger than 18.

It’s a question of where to draw the line. Marriage allows people to be more self-sufficient, requiring less government assistance. In this era of unsustainable government entitlement spending, fiscal conservatives and marriage advocates may find themselves arguing for fewer and fewer restrictions on who marries whom.

And there are certain religious traditions in which the underage are encouraged, with parental consent, to participate.

While not even vegans say animals should be allowed the right to enter into contracts, we are currently seeing how quickly opinions can evolve.  Today’s tongue-in-cheek “Animals are people, too!” could become tomorrow’s “Animals are equal. I really don’t see that happening, and people raising it ignore the fact that we can’t communicate with animals, to determine consent. 

My Two Mommies

States and the federal government already enforce child support payments. Suppose a man has children with Wife 1, but divorces Wife 1 and marries Wife 2. The state still enforces his duties to his children by now ex-Wife 1, usually recommending that the parents maintain a positive relationship — for the children, of course.

What if the relationships are so positive that, to share expenses, the man and Wife 2 decide to provide for ex-Wife 1 and their children directly, say by sharing a duplex?

What power of the state says that the man may not have an affair with ex-Wife 1 while married to Wife 2? As long as neither Wife complains about it, will the state intervene? Almost certainly not, except to make sure he doesn’t abuse his children, and continues his child support payments.

You can continue that exercise in whatever direction you want to take it. Polygamy is available de facto to any group of adults who want to take it up.

Happy FamilyPolygamy seems like a perfect hell on Earth to me, since I can’t keep track of what one woman tells me. Having shared child-rearing duties with a wife and ex-wife, I believe the difficulty of balancing those relationships would be beyond my capacity. But it’s not unheard of. People do it.

Not only do they do it, but they face an historical and ongoing religious persecution because of it. And despite Ted Olson’s arguments to the  Supreme Court, state recognition of polygamy would strengthen the position of women in polygamous relationships.

Having given up the fight on marriage redefinition, Republicans will be in no position to argue against state recognition of polygamy, nor even simple bigamy. Two wives in a duplex don’t share the same address. What does it matter how closely together they live?

These are not slippery-slope arguments, but more like approaching-cliff ones.

Proponents of redefining marriage point to miscegenation laws, and I understand they sincerely believe in that argument.  I don’t, however, since I don’t believe sexual preference is inborn and unchangeable.  Applying civil rights laws to personal choices is wrong, and a never-ending well of societal trouble awaits us if we do.

Along with pursuit of civil rights, traditional marriage has been a part of Republican Party platform since 1854. It is a mistake to abandon that plank, and the base of the Party, in an effort to reach new people. It’s far better to continue making the case that the intertwined leftist experiments in social engineering and government expansion are harmful, and to draw people in on our own terms.

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