Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, July 15, 2013

From Gay Marriage to Group Marriage

One of the standard things one reads, in pieces opposing changing the definition of civil marriage to allow same sex couples to contract marriages, is: "Next thing they'll demand is group marriage." And indeed, one does read some pieces advocating the legal recognition of plural marriage.

I certainly agree that once you start saying that any "loving, committed relationship of consenting adults" should qualify for legal recognition as a marriage, there's no logical reason why you'd refuse to recognize polygamy as well as "gay marriage", however, I'd assumed that most "reasonable people" didn't go that far. Very few people practice polygamy, a lot of those who do do so in ways that seem pretty undeniably oppressive to women, and advocates for gay marriage are always claiming that they just want a way for same sex couples to have the same public commitment and fidelity as straight ones.

However, perhaps I wasn't taking seriously enough the point I made the other day about how, in the process of rationalizing support for gay relationships, a lot of other sexual morality ends up being jettisoned. I belong to a Facebrook discussion group in which strong supporters of gay marriage predominate, so I put out the question: "Question specifically for those who consider recognition of same sex marriage as a civil rights issue: Would you say that recognizing polyamorous relationships as marriages is a similar civil rights issue?"

The vast majority of those who responded said, sometimes quite strongly, that group marriages should be recognized by the state, and indeed that there were no possible just arguments against doing so. Some of them seemed pretty offended that anyone would suggest that there's anything wrong with conducting a polyamorous relationship.

I've looked around a bit and can't find any polling on this issue. My tendency would be to assume that it's only activists who have taken the marriage redefinition game to this absurd level, but it would be interesting to know how widespread this kind of thinking is.


August said...

I don't think we'll see this legalized largely because I think the quiet powerhouse behind 'gay marriage' is the divorce industry. Marriage in general seems to be an increasingly upper middle class phenomenon (especially as the lower middle class dries up and disappears). Homosexuals tend to be upper middle class too.

The rhetoric about rights would make it appear that polygamy is right around the corner, but it isn't because the divorce industry couldn't extract much of anything from a polygamist family. There are too many competing claims on whatever funds are available.
History tends to confirm my view here- if I understand correctly, Rome eventually allowed folks to marry goats, but they only allowed people to marry one 'spouse' at a time.
Serial monogamy maximizes the amount of money lawyers can extract from people. They are more likely to declare any couple living together as married ( I think some moves along these lines have happened somewhere recently- possibly Canada) than they are to recognize polygamy.

Joseph Moore said...

Ideas have certain sort of gravity. Things fall out of them by nature. In this case, the logic demands that no relationship any group of adults wants to call marriage cannot be denied.

The numbers don't matter. Only 1.5% of the population is gay, and only some small percentage of that group wants to be married themselves. Yet, the idea was able to stand the world on its head. So, all we need is one photogenic 3-some or voluntary harem that wants to be married, and the wheels will turn inexorably - to do otherwise would undermine the logic that insists on gay marriage - and no fault divorce.

Jenny said...

Years ago on a news program, I heard a gay marriage advocate answer the question as to why gay marriage would not lead to polygamy. His literal verbatim answer was "because traditionally marriage is between two people."


At that moment, I knew either these people weren't that bright or we were being scammed.

I don't expect polygamy to be legalized immediately, but I will not be surprised if it happens in my lifetime.

Jennifer Fitz said...

Yes. Absolutely it'll head that way. Said because I know folks living in multiple-partner relationships, and sooner or later, someone's going to want benefits for the extra person. Or public recognition and respect. I think conservatives may be a tad naive about the private lives of their not-so-conservative friends.

Someone at a fairly liberal uni said...

You are far, far behind the times. "Polyamory" is a big thing in the circles I travel in, and any public suggestion that "It will lead to polygamy!" is an *indictment* of gay marriage would quickly be met with rebuke.

Kate said...

There are better arguments (in protection of the women and children in already existing polygamous situations) to legalize polyamorous marriage than there were to legally enshrine homosexual marriage - and more historical precedent for calling it marriage too. I know very few people in favor of gay marriage who would bother mounting much opposition to polyamorous marriage.