Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poly People Deserve Freedom to Marry, Too

Friend of Equality, Macha, pointed me to this look at the same-sex freedom to marry and the polygamous freedom to marry written by Jon Adams at Utah State University Secular Humanists, Atheists, and Free Thinkers.

Opponents of gay marriage have often raised the specter that it will inevitably lead to the legalization of polygamy. This has been an effective tactic because while homosexuality has enjoyed growing social acceptance, polygamy remains unpopular.

The claimed-monogamous claimed-hetero sex police fear losing their controls over the bodies of others, so they scream about anything that doesn’t meet their model, and they love to divide and conquer, pitting one group against another. But let me say it again: sexual orientation as far as gender attraction is different from monogamous or poly. Just like heterosexuals, some LGBT people are in monogamous relationships, others are in poly relationships. Some aren’t in either, but are essentially poly in their core, others are looking for a monogamous relationship. Same-sex marriage does not cause polygamy. Polygamy has been a celebrated part of human cultures as long as there have been humans. It exists today in places where same-sex marriage is banned, so obviously it isn’t caused by same-sex marriage.

Adams goes on to note the lawsuit by the Browns seeking the right to cohabitate.

To elaborate further, I think that polygamy should be decriminalized—that is, people should not be fined or imprisoned for the practice.

Thank you for that.

That’s the extent of my support, though. I do not believe that polygamy should be afforded the same societal sanction or benefits that monogamous relationships enjoy.

That’s not equality.

Adams goes on to invoke Discredited Argument #8, and cites Andrew Sullivan’s argument (#16) that legalizing polygamy would keep some people from being able to marry because “when one man gets two wives, some other man gets no wife.”

In other words, polygamy is a zero-sum game. And whereas gay marriage increases access to the institution of marriage, polygamy restricts it. I deny that there has historically been a static or traditional form of marriage, but I do agree with conservatives that marriage is a basic unit of society. So because polygamy destabilizes the institution of marriage, it threatens—if more widely practiced—to destabilize society as well.

But it hasn’t been shown that polygamy destabilizes marriage. I think a good case can be made that it stabilizes society to let people who want polygamy to have it, with sanction and protection.

Polygamy has existed in virtually every society in recorded history, so we are able to better evaluate its consequences. And looking to the historical record, we find that societies that adopted polygamy were more often undemocratic and unegalitarian.

See #15. The problems were not caused by polygamy. They were caused be gender inequality. Gender inequality is harmful in monogamy and polygamy. It would be harmful if there was no marriage at all. Do something about gender inequality; don't blame polygamy.

Adams goes on to cite the contentions of Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer, which I have dealt with here.

Macha wrote…

Decriminalization will be an important step in destigmatizing unconventional marriage and family relationships. Consenting adults should be able to love whomever they choose, and as long as the government makes it its business to issue marriage licenses, they have no right to discriminate on the basis of sex, orientation, or number of partners.

Well said!


Because I support gay marriage because I feel gay couples/parents need the rights and stability associated with marriage, and the government has no business interfering in my personal life, I personally feel compelled to also support polygamy.

We should all support full marriage equality, so that an adult can marry any consenting adults.
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