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. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    Ball Diamond Ball: I don’t give a far-flung fudge what you think of it.  You’ve been completely unreceptive, stone-deaf, tin-eared for the arguments that actual conservatives have against homosexual “marriage”.  We’re just haters.  Why would I waste my time trying to engage with you now?

    Actually I have very rarely called conservatives haters on the SSM issue (usually when they are being,  you know, haters). But by all means keep casting aspersions rather than make useful argument.

    • #91
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    #82 – Yeah, cuz the activist Left is oh so concerned with avoiding hypocrisy.

    • #92
  3. user_836033 Member
    user_836033
    @WBob

    Polygamy and polyamory will be mandated when they become popular enough, which will happen the same way SSM became popular: for example people “coming out” and non-polygamists realizing that their polygamist/polyamorist  neighbors are, amazingly, human beings just like themselves.   It’s not a coincidence that this ruling came at roughly the time when public opinion began shifting toward SSM, or at least seemed to be shifting.  Until such time when there is an actual bigotry stigma associated with opposition to polygamy/polyamory,  liberal justices will have no problem ruling against it, and they will find a way to make it consistent with the SSM ruling.  They love the praise of men more than the praise of God, but there has to be enough “praise of men” out there to make them do it.

    • #93
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    Jamie Lockett

    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.

    Well, that’s a stunning lack of how culture works.  Like it or not, laws normalize values and that in turn creates a cultural understanding or worldview, if you will.  In time normalized values affect everyone, even dissenting views.  There is no such thing as it doesn’t effect you.  It will certainly effect my child and family and future generations.  Call it cultural psychology.

    • #94
  5. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    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.

    True, however I agree with Justice Roberts when he wrote:

    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.

    To me the essential difference between marriage and same-sex unions is that the former are potentially procreative.  So is polygamy, which is why many societies in history permitted it while none before ours ever even seriously considered calling a same-sex relationship a “marriage.”  Further since it is a traditional practice of some religions I think there’s a strong 1st Amendment religious freedom argument in favor of polygamy that does not apply to SSM.

    Therefore I don’t see the slope as:

    marriage –> SSM –> polygamy

    But rather as:

    marriage –> polygamy –> SSM

    If it were the former then I agree that one could make a case for moving the line partway down the slope and then stopping:

    marriage –> SSM -| stop here! | -> polygamy

    However it seems to me that SCOTUS has taken us down the rabbit hole:

    marriage –> polygamy –> SSM [where Obergefell landed]

    • #95
  6. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    “MEN do not live long without gods; but when the gods of the New Paganism come they will not be merely insufficient, as were the gods of Greece, nor merely false; they will be evil. One might put it in a sentence, and say that the New Paganism, foolishly expecting satisfaction, will fall, before it knows where it is, into Satanism”

    ~Hilaire Belloc: “Essays of a Catholic.”

    • #96
  7. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Joseph Stanko:

    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.

    True, however I agree with Justice Roberts when he wrote:

    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.

    To me the essential difference between marriage and same-sex unions is that the former are potentially procreative. So is polygamy, which is why many societies in history permitted it while none before ours ever even seriously considered calling a same-sex relationship a “marriage.” Further since it is a traditional practice of some religions I think there’s a strong 1st Amendment religious freedom argument in favor of polygamy that does not apply to SSM.

    Therefore I don’t see the slope as:

    marriage –> SSM –> polygamy

    But rather as:

    marriage –> polygamy –> SSM

    If it were the former then I agree that one could make a case for moving the line partway down the slope and then stopping:

    marriage –> SSM -| stop here! | -> polygamy

    However it seems to me that SCOTUS has taken us down the rabbit hole:

    marriage –> polygamy –> SSM [where Obergefell landed]

    That’s an interesting way of looking at it, and I can’t see any reason why this isn’t true. Slippery slops can either be “wrong,” as in the correct position is earlier on the slope, or they can be “right” as in you have to bite the bullet of where the logic takes you.

    • #97
  8. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    The slope need not be a linear channel.  The slope leads down from here, ordered, to down there, disordered, and it’s a choose-your-own-path adventure how it actually turns out.

    • #98
  9. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    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.”]

    While I appreciate the effort, the problem is that’s not correct.  I do wish to discuss it further.  However, I have reservations (shall we say) about the integrity of one of the correspondents in a multi-party conversation.  Otherwise, this is the heckler’s veto.

    • #99
  10. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

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

    Polygamy needs a flag of its own, one that incorporates the rainbow colors but adds an element symbolizing polygamy.  I was pondering this when I noticed the picture of 3 wedding rings accompanying this post — perfect!

    I present the new symbol of the “Marriage Equality for All” movement:

    olympic flag

    • #100
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Joseph Stanko:

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

    Polygamy needs a flag of its own, one that incorporates the rainbow colors but adds an element symbolizing polygamy. I was pondering this when I noticed the picture of 3 wedding rings accompanying this post — perfect!

    I present the new symbol of the “Marriage Equality for All” movement:

    olympic flag

    It needs to be an “open” marriage.  You could symbolize it by loosening some of the links.

    • #101
  12. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    Joseph, that is fantastic! Now, if only I could find a way of displaying this in support of Marriage Equality for All, without people getting confused by that other thing.

    • #102
  13. user_331141 Inactive
    user_331141
    @JamieLockett

    “While I appreciate the effort, the problem is that’s not correct. I do wish to discuss it further. However, I have reservations (shall we say) about the integrity of one of the correspondents in a multi-party conversation. Otherwise, this is the heckler’s veto.”

    I look forward to seeing you work on your integrity, Ball.

    • #103
  14. user_977556 Member
    user_977556
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    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.

    You’re right, but let’s not hold our breath.

    • #104
  15. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Theodoric of Freiberg:

    …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.

    You’re right, but let’s not hold our breath.

    Agreed. The only thing keeping polygamy illegal is the anti-polygamy bigotry of 5 Supreme Court Justices.  All that means is, once the New York Times starts calling out people opposed to polygamy as the bigots they already are, the 5 left-leaning justices will fall all over themselves to discover a constitutional right to polygamy. After all, there will always be more kids issuing from polygamist marriages than gay ones, so why should those children feel any pain.

    To paraphrase from the SSM decision:

    Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children of polygamous marriages

    Imagine the unbridled bigotry inherent in wanting to hurt a child just because his father wanted to have more than one wife at a time.  I’m sorry, but they are bigots, there is no other word for it.

    • #105
  16. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Asquared:……To paraphrase from the SSM decision:

    Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children of polygamous marriages

    ….

    If there were anything that should be reserved for the political process, the points raised in this paraphrase are it.

    Is it really the court’s duty or authority to vanquish stigma, difficulty, and uncertainty (assuming they’re assessment is even correct)?

    • #106
  17. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Ed G.: Is it really the court’s duty or authority to vanquish stigma, difficulty, and uncertainty (assuming they’re assessment is even correct)?

    Well, my answer is “No”.   Bank robbers and murderers have children that are stigmatized by their parents conviction and punishment.  To say we have to consider the stigma of the child when sentencing is ridiculous on its face.

    NB: I am NOT comparing gays to murderers, so you can stop your whining immediately.  I was simply point out the obvious fact that our legal system is not structure around vanquishing stigma, difficulty and uncertainty.

    But I do think that anyone who supports SSM for the reasons highlighted my quoted paragraph must support government recognition of polygamous marriages for the exact same reasons or acknowledge their bigotry.

    • #107
  18. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Asquared:

    Ed G.: Is it really the court’s duty or authority to vanquish stigma, difficulty, and uncertainty (assuming they’re assessment is even correct)?

    Well, my answer is “No”. Bank robbers and murderers have children that are stigmatized by their parents conviction and punishment. To say we have to consider the stigma of the child when sentencing is ridiculous on its face.

    NB: I am NOT comparing gays to murderers, so you can stop your whining immediately. I was simply point out the obvious fact that our legal system is not structure around vanquishing stigma, difficulty and uncertainty.

    But I do think that anyone who supports SSM for the reasons highlighted my quoted paragraph must support government recognition of polygamous marriages for the exact same reasons or acknowledge their bigotry.

    I wasn’t criticizing you. I was just registering my amazement at the open admission of the court using value judgements as the central reasoning for disregarding the legislative process rather than matters of text or law. That’s bold and dangerous. And astounding.

    • #108
  19. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Ed G.:

    I wasn’t criticizing you. I was just registering my amazement at the open admission of the court…

    I didn’t think you were.  I was just heading off inevitable comments of the Pro-LBGTQ crowd that shriek in bloody horror at every analogy that includes any tangential reference to LBGTQ crowd.

    They are simply bigoted against analogies.  Have to add that to the list of bigotry.

    • #109
  20. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Asquared: All that means is, once the New York Times starts calling out people opposed to polygamy as the bigots they already are, the 5 left-leaning justices will fall all over themselves to discover a constitutional right to polygamy.

    The NYT is unlikely to do so as long as polygamy remains associated with certain fundamentalist splinter groups that split from the Mormon church.  The NYT sees these people as Christian red-state rednecks, so it’s ok to hate and persecute them.

    The left won’t embrace polygamy until it has a poster child they approve of.  One possible candidate is the growing polyamory movement among young urban coastal types.  If this isn’t just a passing fad but the beginning of a social trend they could become the face of a movement for legal polygamy.

    The other likely candidate is Muslim immigrant communities, especially in Europe.  Advocate groups like CAIR have deep pockets funded by Middle East petrodollars and are adept at using Western civil rights laws and court precedent to their advantage.  They could embrace legal polygamy as a way to advance Sharia law in Western nations — and of course will work to brand any opposition as “Islamophobic.”

    • #110
  21. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Joseph Stanko:

    Asquared: All that means is, once the New York Times starts calling out people opposed to polygamy as the bigots they already are, the 5 left-leaning justices will fall all over themselves to discover a constitutional right to polygamy.

    The NYT is unlikely to do so as long as polygamy remains associated with certain fundamentalist splinter groups that split from the Mormon church. The NYT sees these people as Christian red-state rednecks, so it’s ok to hate and persecute them.

    I don’t think it’s likely either. I was just pointing out that the recent Supreme Court decision was driven more by the editorial page of the NY Times than it was anything remotely approaching interpreting the Constitution or Supreme Court precedents.

    I will observe that the fact that the NY Times isn’t calling anti-polygamists bigoted doesn’t make them any less bigoted.

    • #111
  22. user_348483 Coolidge
    user_348483
    @EHerring

    When justices pull constitutional interpretations out of their butts, it is harder for them to justify the unintended consequences, like polygamy.

    • #112
  23. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    EHerring:When justices pull constitutional interpretations out of their butts, it is harder for them to justify the unintended consequences, like polygamy.

    Careful, that was almost a hate crime you committed right there.

    • #113
  24. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Jamie Lockett:“While I appreciate the effort, the problem is that’s not correct.I do wish to discuss it further.However, I have reservations (shall we say) about the integrity of one of the correspondents in a multi-party conversation.Otherwise, this is the heckler’s veto.”

    I look forward to seeing you work on your integrity, Ball.

    See?  I knew you cared.

    • #114
  25. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Well that didn’t take long….

    It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy

    • #115
  26. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Kozak:Well that didn’t take long….

    It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy

    So if we legalize Polyandry.  Will there be a number limit like only 4 or 5 or 10 or 100 or 1000?  If so why?

    • #116
  27. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Real Jane Galt:

    Kozak:Well that didn’t take long….

    It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy

    So if we legalize Polyandry. Will there be a number limit like only 4 or 5 or 10 or 100 or 1000? If so why?

    Well the muslims limit it to 4, but thats a religious consideration so thats a non starter.

    • #117
  28. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Real Jane Galt:

    So if we legalize Polyandry. Will there be a number limit like only 4 or 5 or 10 or 100 or 1000? If so why?

    Only a anti-polyandry bigot would argue there should be a limit.

    • #118
  29. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Asquared:

    Real Jane Galt:

    So if we legalize Polyandry. Will there be a number limit like only 4 or 5 or 10 or 100 or 1000? If so why?

    Only a anti-polyandry bigot would argue there should be a limit.

    I don’t know about the anti-polyandry bigot part, but I can’t see where the government has a right to set a limit.  Now that the cat is out of the bag so to speak, I can’t see a limiting principle that does not say the more the merrier.  After all who is the government to step in against ones pursuit of happiness?

    • #119
  30. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Real Jane Galt:

    I don’t know about the anti-polyandry bigot part, but I can’t see where the government has a right to set a limit.

    Meh. I’ve been told many times the only reason to object to SSM is bigotry, so now it’s time to point out the obvious and inherent bigotry of the left when they feebly attempt to oppose polygamy/polyandry.

    Also, any any arbitrary limit would be in direct violation of the opening paragraph of the recent decision

    The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,”

    I don’t see any way that paragraph could be interpreted to say your inherent constitutional right to define and express your identity stops at X spouses.

    • #120
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