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. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Asquared:….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.

    …. or why it stops at your gender or your race either.

    • #121
  2. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Ed G.:

    Asquared:….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.

    …. or at your gender or your race.

    If Bruce Jenner is a trans-woman, I’d just like to make it official. I’m a trans-Olympian. Where’s my medal?

    • #122
  3. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Western Chauvinist: If Bruce Jenner is a trans-woman, I’d just like to make it official. I’m a trans-Olympian. Where’s my medal?

    You just buy one.  The Supreme Court has already said it is constitutional to give yourself military medals.  The same principle must work for Olympic Medals.

    • #123
  4. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    We have our first case

    A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife…

    He and his second wife, Christine, had a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 but did not sign a marriage license to avoid bigamy charges, he said…

    “My second wife Christine, who I’m not legally married to, she’s put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy,” he said.

    Let the bigotry begin.

    • #124
  5. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Asquared:We have our first case

    A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife…

    He and his second wife, Christine, had a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 but did not sign a marriage license to avoid bigamy charges, he said…

    “My second wife Christine, who I’m not legally married to, she’s put up with my crap for a lot of years. ,” he said.

    Let the bigotry begin.

    Who will bake the cake? bring the flowers?

    • #125
  6. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Jules PA:

    Who will bake the cake? bring the flowers?

    Well, the ceremony happened 8 years ago and I don’t think he’s going to have another one.  He is simply looking for legitimacy for his personal expression of marriage.  But his first wife probably baked the cake at his second wedding. Do you think his first wife was a bridesmaid?  Are we even allowed to use that term any more?

    • #126
  7. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Asquared:

    Jules PA:

    Who will bake the cake? bring the flowers?

    Well, the ceremony happened 8 years ago and I don’t think he’s going to have another one. He is simply looking for legitimacy for his personal expression of marriage. But his first wife probably baked the cake at his second wedding. Do you think his first wife was a bridesmaid? Are we even allowed to use that term any more?

    Bridesperson? Wait…Who is the Bride anyway?

    • #127
  8. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Jules PA:

    Bridesperson? Wait…Who is the Bride anyway?

    Exactly.  It’s clearly heteronormative bigotry to use words like “Bride” and even worse to call one of your closest friends a “maid”.

    • #128
  9. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Asquared:

    Jules PA:

    Bridesperson? Wait…Who is the Bride anyway?

    Exactly. It’s clearly heteronormative bigotry to use words like “Bride” and even worse to call one of your closest friends a “maid”.

    Plus if she is over a certain age, probably best to say BrideSpinster, or Spinster Witness, or something like that.

    Oh, the stigma.

    • #129
  10. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Well, that answers that question!

    Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license, vows lawsuit if denied: http://t.co/bkdO50guR7

    • #130
  11. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Concretevol:Well, that answers that question!

    Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license, vows lawsuit if denied: http://t.co/bkdO50guR7

    I hope they win.

    • #131
  12. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Kozak:

    Concretevol:Well, that answers that question!

    Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license, vows lawsuit if denied: http://t.co/bkdO50guR7

    I hope they win.

    It would be logically consistent, and show that the West hasn’t slipped into complete irrationality. Sucks for the kids and the culture, but meh. As long as people get what they want.

    • #132
  13. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Screw the kids buddy this is about love! #lovewins

    • #133
  14. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Somebody was saying that the left would balk at supporting polygamy because it would lend support to some sects such as polygamous rinds of LDS and so forth.

    Don’t believe it for a minute.  They need not be consistent, and they can accept boosting a handful of American religious folks in return for trashing the culture and supporting radical Islam in the States.

    They will be all over this like a dog on a cow bone.

    • #134
  15. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Concretevol:Well, that answers that question!

    Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license, vows lawsuit if denied: http://t.co/bkdO50guR7

    He’s already got the language right:

    “It’s about marriage equality,” Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday.

    “We hope the Supreme Court decision will show the direction the nation is going,” she said. “It’s more liberal, it’s more understanding about people forming the families the way they want.”

    Now he just needs to adopt my flag suggestion and he’s all set to launch a successful political movement!

    • #135
  16. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Real Jane Galt:

    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?

    If we could just get everyone in the world into one giant marriage we could finally have world peace!

    • #136
  17. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Joseph Stanko: If we could just get everyone in the world into one giant marriage we could finally have world peace!

    Isn’t that what Obama wants?  Every single person in this country having a legal claim on the income and assets of every single other person in the country.

    • #137
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

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

    The winner.

    • #138
  19. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Ball Diamond Ball: Don’t believe it for a minute. They need not be consistent, and they can accept boosting a handful of American religious folks in return for trashing the culture and supporting radical Islam in the States.

    The guiding principle of the left is “the greatest evil for the greatest number.”  Sometimes that requires them to come down on the right side of an issue, if it is the price that must be paid for a greater evil elsewhere.

    • #139
  20. user_348483 Coolidge
    user_348483
    @EHerring

    My husband couldn’t afford two of me.

    • #140
  21. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    EHerring:My husband couldn’t afford two of me.

    In a properly organized polygamous household the wives support the husband.  As they should.

    • #141
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