Is Polygamy Next?

 

shutterstock_124665844-2John Roberts seems to think so. From his dissent in Obergefell:

Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.

He continues:

It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. If “[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,” ante, at 13, why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” ante, at 15, why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the opportunity to marry “serves to disrespect and subordinate” gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same “imposition of this disability,” ante, at 22, serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships? See Bennett, Polyamory: The Next Sexual Revolution? Newsweek, July 28, 2009 (estimating 500,000 polyamorous families in the United States); Li, Married Lesbian “Throuple” Expecting First Child, N. Y. Post, Apr. 23, 2014; Otter, Three May Not Be a Crowd: The Case for a Constitutional Right to Plural Marriage, 64 Emory L. J. 1977 (2015).

I do not mean to equate marriage between same-sex couples with plural marriages in all respects. There may well be relevant differences that compel different legal analysis. But if there are, petitioners have not pointed to any. When asked about a plural marital union at oral argument, petitioners asserted that a State “doesn’t have such an institution.” Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 2, p. 6. But that is exactly the point: the States at issue here do not have an institution of same-sex marriage, either.

In theory, slippery slopes do not exist. Jonah Goldberg has argued that in democracies, the people draw lines where they want them. And in the case of SSM, I’ve heard arguments (albeit strained) from proponents as to why, in Roberts’s phrase, “the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not”.

But in practice, the slippery slope is real. Once people pushing for policy X get their way, they almost never stick around to help defend against the next encroachment. Instead they tend to lose interest, and vacate the field. Do you expect SSM advocates to now turn around and forcefully argue for “only two”? Neither do I. So down the slope we slide.

Exhibit A is an article in Politico, only the latest mainstream outfit to publish an op-ed endorsing the descent.

Polyamory is a fact. People are living in group relationships today. The question is not whether they will continue on in those relationships. The question is whether we will grant to them the same basic recognition we grant to other adults: that love makes marriage, and that the right to marry is exactly that, a right.

Civilization’s ultimate renunciation of polygamy was part of a strengthening of the rights of women and the protection of children. As traditional marriage erodes, whether through unmarried couplings, SSM, or polygamy, people may be surprised by the collateral damage wreaked on society’s weakest members.

Then again, maybe it will not come to pass. Roberts notes that there is no logical basis for failing to extending the Obergefell reasoning to polygamy. However, earlier this week, in King v. Burwell, Roberts demonstrated that reasoning and logic matter little in the law these days. So perhaps there is hope after all.

Published in Culture, Marriage
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  1. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Jamie Lockett:

    Concretevol: So would you consider ending churches tax exempt status because of their objection to ssm punishment by the government? I mean, these are the same people that hounded/audited and refused tax exempt status to various tea party groups solely because they opposed them politically but who am I to judge the motivations of such noble people. I think you may be forgetting the extent that the Obama administration has politicized every facet of life.

    I don’t believe any organizations should be tax exempt. I think that we should exempt either all organizations or no organizations (I favor not taxing organizations, only the individual). So I don’t see this as a punishment so much as a return to my preferred ideal.

    I’m talking about the motivation for doing it, not the end result.  It doesn’t matter whether they should be tax exempt or not in my mind.  You said they wouldn’t be punished by the government and I’m saying they will have their tax exempt status taken away as punishment.  If Jamie Lockett took it away as a matter of principle that is something completely different.

    • #61
  2. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Son of Spengler:

    Mike H:Two things. Yes, polygamy follows from the same logic. And it’s not that slippery slopes don’t “exist,” it’s that their existence doesn’t show that an earlier part of the slope is incorrect.

    Mike, when you say “incorrect”, do you mean the reasoning or the conclusion? A conclusion can be correct but arrived at based on flawed logic or a flawed premise.

    It matters because the existence of a slippery slope can be evidence of a flaw in the argument. If you believe that A is right and B is wrong, then an argument that supports both A and B probably has a hole somewhere.

    I meant the conclusion. The conclusion of course can still be correct, but a slippery slope doesn’t indicate it.

    One might believe that A is right and B is wrong, but the slippery slope could as easily be showing the error of your belief as it might indicate a hole in reasoning.

    • #62
  3. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Jamie Lockett:

    Son of Spengler: SCOTUS has effectively declared that opposition to SSM is irrational bigotry. That will have implications for those of us whose religious observance is about fidelity to God’s revealed word. SCOTUS doesn’t get to tell me what’s central or not central to my religion, and neither do you.

    While I found the decision to be a bad one based on the legal reasoning and precedent it sets I do not think that this is warranted. Kennedy explicitly stated that religious institutions were still free to object to SSM on moral grounds.

    Well that didn’t take long.

    Idaho city’s ordinance tells pastors to marry gays or go to jail

    • #63
  4. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Mike, that’s precisely the approach of the Politico piece. So should I understand, then, that you are confident enough in the strength of the “free to love” argument that we should reconsider objections to polygamy?

    • #64
  5. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    The slippery slope is real.  One law creates a normalization which leads to other mindsets that were never envisioned or inhibited.  Nothing is in isolation.  There is no such thing as “leave it to the individual without it affecting me.”  Call it group or cultural psychology.  There is more rationale and cultural examples for polygamy than SSM.  In fact there are no cultural examples for SSM.

    • #65
  6. Badderbrau Member
    Badderbrau
    @EKentGolding

    Al Sparks:I don’t know if polygamy will become legal from this ruling or not.

    But I’m doubtful that polygamy will spread unless nature starts producing many more women than men.

    Polygamy doesn’t require many  more women than men.   It requires many more wives for the Rich and Powerful,  and a really angry set of poor men.   The middle class is going away anyway.

    • #66
  7. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Son of Spengler: In theory, slippery slopes do not exist. Jonah Goldberg has argued that in democracies, the people draw lines where they want them. And in the case of SSM, I’ve heard arguments (albeit strained) from proponents as to why, in Roberts’s phrase, “the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not”.

    As the author of one such strained piece…

    I think Goldberg’s point holds well — or, is more likely to hold well — when we’re talking about things expressly passed by law or amendment. That is, these mechanisms can say “X but not Y” without having to offer why. If Souter’s argument (at least, as much of it as I’ve read) had been the preamble to gay marriage legislation, that would have been one thing.

    In contrast, the kind of interpretative law that was used here demands logical consistency even in the fact of bad conclusions. Basically, I think my argument is now moot, given the specific argument the court adopted and the way it adopted it.

    • #67
  8. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I take back my earlier comment. I forgot about the TV show Sister Wives — in its 6th season! The Left’s effort to normalize polygamy began years ago. It has just been outshined by “gay marriage” and now the push for transsexuals.

    Bestiality can’t be that far off. There is already an entire channel (Animal Planet) devoted to breaking down the Great Chain of Being. As with the Yay Gay push, the confusion is rampant on both sides of the political aisle.

    • #68
  9. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @bridget

    Pointing this out in case someone hasn’t already: Scalia was roundly mocked twelve years ago for saying that Lawrence v. Texas would lead to a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  He was vindicated on Friday, even as he issued a scathing dissent.

    Roberts will be similarly vindicated; people are already moving for polygamy and first-cousin marriages to be legal under the Equal Protection Clause.  Now that we have forcefully declared that the people, through their state legislatures, have no interest in defining marriage or allowing marriages of a certain type, the field is wide open.

    The ACLU has just said that it will not protect the religious freedom of those who do not wish to participate in same-sex marriage.  They waited scarcely a few hours to declare their true colours – that same-sex marriage is, to them, about anti-Christianity more than increased freedom for all.

    • #69
  10. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @PainterJean

      The ACLU has just said that it will not protect the religious freedom of those who do not wish to participate in same-sex marriage. They waited scarcely a few hours to declare their true colours – that same-sex marriage is, to them, about anti-Christianity more than increased freedom for all.

    I do believe this is the case, and also explains why so many on the Left don’t take on Islam: they have the same enemies — Christians and observant Jews.

    • #70
  11. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Son of Spengler: Is Polygamy Next?

    No. Pederasty is next. Lowering the age of consent will be a big dealio in the coming generation.

    • #71
  12. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Son of Spengler:Mike, that’s precisely the approach of the Politico piece. So should I understand, then, that you are confident enough in the strength of the “free to love” argument that we should reconsider objections to polygamy?

    I’m confident enough that government shouldn’t be certifying marriages that you’re seeing the unraveling of state licensing.

    • #72
  13. Badderbrau Member
    Badderbrau
    @EKentGolding

    Maybe we can encourage all the Democrats, Progressives, and Big Government Repubs to engage exclusively and faithfully in Loving Gay Polygamy  as a way to reduce their Carbon Footprint and save Gaia!   A great marketing campaign could be done to encourage this….

    • #73
  14. user_977556 Member
    user_977556
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    Al Sparks:I don’t know if polygamy will become legal from this ruling or not.

    But I’m doubtful that polygamy will spread unless nature starts producing many more women than men.

    You are assuming one man marrying many women. Polygamy can be the other way around as well. It can also be a group of men and women.

    Whether Americans know it or not, polygamy was legalized with this Supreme Court ruling. All it will take is one court case and it’s done.

    Marriage is already a mess. We have huge numbers of out-of-wedlock births and a high divorce rate in traditional marriages. Divorced parents are fighting over their children. Child support is not being paid. Kids are being hurt. Can you imagine the damage polygamy is going to cause?

    Better batten down the hatches. It’s going to be a very bumpy ride.

    • #74
  15. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    According to the New York Times, what’s next is …

    … obtaining federal, state and local legal protections in employment, housing, commerce and other arenas, just like those barring discrimination based on race, religion, sex and national origin.

    The results of which would be …

    … that antidiscrimination laws will inevitably be used to force religious people and institutions to violate their beliefs, whether by providing services for same-sex weddings or by employing gay men and lesbians in church-related jobs.

    Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/us/gay-rights-leaders-push-for-federal-civil-rights-protections.html

    • #75
  16. Lensman Inactive
    Lensman
    @Lensman

    The most likely attack on the prohibition of polygamy will be by a resident alien or naturalized American citizen who brings his several wives with him from an Islamic country. Since a majority on the Supreme Court has been willing to bestow constitutional rights on enemy (illegal) combatants overseas, it’s not that difficult for them to require recognition of the validity of the marriage(s) “performed” overseas.

    Once we had a constitutional republic. Now we have a country ruled by an oligarchy of philosopher kings called “Justices” who use the constitution as a vehicle for imposing their wisdom on the country, except when they are re-writing laws passed by Congress. Even Chief Justice John Marshall would disapprove.

    This most recent example of misrule should add fuel to the fire for an Article V Convention (called by the States) for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution. Any amendments passed by the convention will then go through the usual ratification process by 3/4 of the States.

    Georgia has passed a resolution calling for the convention. How many other States have done so? If you want to push back, then get the legislature of your State to pass such a resolution.

    • #76
  17. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Theodoric of Freiberg:

    Marriage is already a mess. We have huge numbers of out-of-wedlock births and a high divorce rate in traditional marriages. Divorced parents are fighting over their children. Child support is not being paid. Kids are being hurt. Can you imagine the damage polygamy is going to cause?

    Apparently, the divorce industry in New York City alone is worth over a billion dollars:

    • #77
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Theodoric of Freiberg:

    Al Sparks:I don’t know if polygamy will become legal from this ruling or not.

    But I’m doubtful that polygamy will spread unless nature starts producing many more women than men.

    You are assuming one man marrying many women. Polygamy can be the other way around as well. It can also be a group of men and women.

    Whether Americans know it or not, polygamy was legalized with this Supreme Court ruling. All it will take is one court case and it’s done.

    Marriage is already a mess. We have huge numbers of out-of-wedlock births and a high divorce rate in traditional marriages. Divorced parents are fighting over their children. Child support is not being paid. Kids are being hurt. Can you imagine the damage polygamy is going to cause?

    Better batten down the hatches. It’s going to be a very bumpy ride.

    What is going to happen to the government’s huge interest in the child support industry?  Any news from the front lines?  (Once upon a time, at a DECUS computer user group meeting, I was surprised and somewhat horrified to learn of the size of the IT establishment that was required to look after child support in Michigan.)

    • #78
  19. user_348483 Coolidge
    user_348483
    @EHerring

    Don’t worry, John Roberts, at least they will have health care, if there is a doctor to serve them.

    • #79
  20. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Theodoric of Freiberg: Whether Americans know it or not, polygamy was legalized with this Supreme Court ruling. All it will take is one court case and it’s done.

    It might indeed be coming. But that this ruling makes polygamy logically permissible does not mean that SCOTUS will grant polygamy the same protection in a future ruling. SCOTUS has ignored judicial restraint and precedent in this and previous rulings, so it could just as easily ignore this ruling in future verdicts.

    SCOTUS is not restricted by sound logic.

    • #80
  21. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Aaron Miller:

    Theodoric of Freiberg: Whether Americans know it or not, polygamy was legalized with this Supreme Court ruling. All it will take is one court case and it’s done.

    It might indeed be coming. But that this ruling makes polygamy logically permissible does not mean that SCOTUS will grant polygamy the same protection in a future ruling. SCOTUS has ignored judicial restraint and precedent in this and previous rulings, so it could just as easily ignore this ruling in future verdicts.

    SCOTUS is not restricted by sound logic.

    This is very true. Our laws exist at their grace. The idea that they are ready for polygamy just because the logic is there is a huge jump.

    • #81
  22. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    There needs to be a formal passing of the Rainbow Flag from a gay guy to a polygamist.

    Any homosexual who supports marriage equality and turns his back on polygamists is a hypocrite.

    The sugary business of romantic love disqualifies gays from opposing polygamists.

    However the analysis that says since  government has made many things attainable only through marriage therefore we can not stop gays from marrying to enjoy them, may not carry the day for the polygamist.  They can obtain those things by marrying one person.

    However, I’m sure contrary arguments will be fashioned.

    • #82
  23. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Mike H:

    Son of Spengler:Mike, that’s precisely the approach of the Politico piece. So should I understand, then, that you are confident enough in the strength of the “free to love” argument that we should reconsider objections to polygamy?

    I’m confident enough that government shouldn’t be certifying marriages that you’re seeing the unraveling of state licensing.

    I arrive at the same conclusion from the opposite end. SSM rejects the only compelling and justifiable state interest. There is simply no longer any reason for civil marriage to exist if the procreative power is dismissed (not that civil marriage hasn’t already been losing it raison d’etre). We have other areas of law more ably suited to property, inheritance, tax, and now even childcare concerns.

    I just don’t know whether the unraveling will happen quickly or whether it will take decades/generations.

    • #83
  24. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Ed G.:

    Mike H:

    Son of Spengler:Mike, that’s precisely the approach of the Politico piece. So should I understand, then, that you are confident enough in the strength of the “free to love” argument that we should reconsider objections to polygamy?

    I’m confident enough that government shouldn’t be certifying marriages that you’re seeing the unraveling of state licensing.

    I arrive at the same conclusion from the opposite end. SSM rejects the only compelling and justifiable state interest. There is simply no longer any reason for civil marriage to exist if the procreative power is dismissed (not that civil marriage hasn’t already been losing it raison d’etre). We have other areas of law more ably suited to property, inheritance, tax, and now even childcare concerns.

    I just don’t know whether the unraveling will happen quickly or whether it will take decades/generations.

    Me either. I lean towards the mid range forecast of a couple decades. The thing is our culture is evolving so fast right now. Not only are we moving through a technological singularity, we are moving through a hyper-individualization singularity. As anonymous has pointed out, the nature of exponential growth is hard for the human mind to fathom. What seems like it should take decades might only take years, what seems like it should never happen might only take decades.

    It’s a little scary, even for me, but I’m still confident we are moving to an overall better world.

    • #84
  25. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Mike H: I’m confident enough that government shouldn’t be certifying marriages that you’re seeing the unraveling of state licensing.

    Mike H: It’s a little scary, even for me, but I’m still confident we are moving to an overall better world.

    Annnd this is where we left off several months ago when I said that the whack-job libertarians are flat-out allied with the Progressive statists.  The first phase of both of their necessary programs is to destroy the culture as it is.

    I have pointed out that conservatism, crunchy old family values, three Rs conservatism is the actual middle, and at either extreme, you have the Progressive cult of the collective, and at the other is the Libertarian cult of the individual.  Neither has any use at all for our culture, and they are willing to collaborate as long as it takes to get their programs underway.  This is why in most of the animating (not theoretical but currently troublesome) contests of the day, the libertarian position is indistinguishable from the progressive.

    Frank Soto said that this positioning of conservatism between the two Godless religious cults is the fallacy of the false middle — said it was one of the worst fallacies.  Well, he was wrong, and I stand by my statement.

    Either Mike H and Fred Cole are libertarians or they aren’t.  Either libertarianism is compatible with conservatism or it isn’t.  Not everything can be true at the same time.

    • #85
  26. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    Ball Diamond Ball:  The first phase of both of their necessary programs is to destroy the culture as it is.

    No culture has ever been stable.

    • #86
  27. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    Ball Diamond Ball: Neither has any use at all for our culture, and they are willing to collaborate as long as it takes to get their programs underway.

    A stunning lack of understanding of what libertarianism is.

    Freedom from government is not a rejection of culture or values. In fact in a world with less government – culture and values are even more important.

    • #87
  28. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    Ball Diamond Ball: This is why in most of the animating (not theoretical but currently troublesome) contests of the day, the libertarian position is indistinguishable from the progressive.

    You are ignoring 50% of the libertarian platform. Unless you think we’re allied with progressives on taxes, or free trade or labor laws…well you get the idea.

    Straw men are straw men.

    • #88
  29. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Jamie Lockett:

    <blockquote>Ball Diamond Ball: Neither has any use at all for our culture, and they are willing to collaborate as long as it takes to get their programs underway.</blockquote>

    A stunning lack of what libertarianism is.

    [This comment was redacted for its harsh tone. The editors suggest, instead, “I don’t believe that you’re grappling in all sincerity with the conservative argument, and would thus prefer not to discuss it further.”]

    • #89
  30. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Mike H: I’m confident enough that government shouldn’t be certifying marriages that you’re seeing the unraveling of state licensing.

    Mike H: It’s a little scary, even for me, but I’m still confident we are moving to an overall better world.

    Annnd this is where we left off several months ago when I said that the whack-job libertarians are flat-out allied with the Progressive statists. The first phase of both of their necessary programs is to destroy the culture as it is.

    I have pointed out that conservatism, crunchy old family values, three Rs conservatism is the actual middle, and at either extreme, you have the Progressive cult of the collective, and at the other is the Libertarian cult of the individual. Neither has any use at all for our culture, and they are willing to collaborate as long as it takes to get their programs underway. This is why in most of the animating (not theoretical but currently troublesome) contests of the day, the libertarian position is indistinguishable from the progressive.

    Frank Soto said that this positioning of conservatism between the two Godless religious cults is the fallacy of the false middle — said it was one of the worst fallacies. Well, he was wrong, and I stand by my statement.

    Either Mike H and Fred Cole are libertarians or they aren’t. Either libertarianism is compatible with conservatism or it isn’t. Not everything can be true at the same time.

    BDB,

    Let me help you with your argument a little. There is a difference between the bank robbers and the clerk who leaves the safe unlocked and goes to lunch. You may wish to hang both but there is a difference.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #90
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