More On Polygamy

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Will Slaten breaks down the issue in a great article on polygamy, its pitfalls and why it isn’t like gay marriage….

Uh oh. Conservatives are starting to hyperventilate again. You know the symptoms: In a haystack of right-wing dominance, they find a needle of radicalism, declare it a mortal danger to civilization, and use it to rally their voters in the next election. First it was flag-burning. Then it was the “war on Christmas.” Now it’s polygamy. Having crushed gay marriage nationwide in 2004, they need to gin up a new threat to the family. They’ve found it in Big Love, the HBO series about a guy with three wives. Open the door to gay marriage, they warn, and group marriage will be next.

My friend Charles Krauthammer makes the argument succinctly in the Washington Post. “Traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender,” he observes. “If, as advocates of gay marriage insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one’s autonomous choices,” then “on what grounds do they insist upon the traditional, arbitrary and exclusionary number of two?”

Here’s the answer. The number isn’t two. It’s one. You commit to one person, and that person commits wholly to you. Second, the number isn’t arbitrary. It’s based on human nature. Specifically, on jealousy.

Me, I think people should create the unions they want. With such high divorce rates, I tend to agree with Krauthammer’s assertion that, “The minting of these new forms of marriage is a symptom of our culture’s contemporary radical individualism — as is the decline of traditional marriage — and not its cause.” And let’s be honest here, individualism isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only going to become more acute.

So yes, this is prediction, but I think at some point in the next 20 years, we’re going to be having discussions about polygamy and if these unions should be sanctioned by the state. And my guess is by that point we’ll have moved more towards an Untied States type of reality where things like marriage and abortion rights are determined on a state by state basis, so polygamists would have to move to a certain locale in order to practice what they preach.

Yeah, I know this makes gay rights advocates blanche, but I think it’s intellectually dishonest to not acknowledge that this is going to be on the horizon at some point. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but quite possibly a lot sooner than any of us may expect.

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