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Traditional Marriage




  1. Pierce wrote:

    I thought it was pretty unfortunate that a lot of LGBT activists in the media were trying to distance themselves from poly people, but polygamy is outlawed due to stupid stereotypes from 130 years ago and is no more justifiable than the reasoning against gay marriage

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink
  2. Thatguy wrote:

    The argument against polygamy is, I believe, mostly against polygyny, or the form of polygamy in which there is one man and many wives and there doesn’t need to be any consent by the wives to add still more wives. This creates a situation where there is one dominant spouse and many powerless spouses. So there’s the dignity and equality angle.

    Gay marriage, a contract between two loving people of the same sex, is mostly opposed because of what’s in the bible and general tradition of one man one woman marriages (which of course we’re not always equal, but are getting there now). I guess what I’m saying is that there are pretty significant differences between polygamy and same-sex monogamy.

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink
  3. Hassan wrote:

    @THATGUY, I always wondered (genuine question), whether liberals/progressives are opposed to forcing morality on other people absolutely or they are opposed to forcing just wrong morals?

    Like gay marriage/homosexuality is morality issue (those who oppose it). And majority of those are against polygamy as well. So they want to force their morality of marriage on rest of Americans. So do liberals oppose it considering forcing of one values on others or oppose it because they consider it wrong morals?

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  4. il-08 wrote:

    I really have to agree that if you are going to be open minded about this, there really is no valid argument against polygamy. @THATGUY’s argument is just an attempt to muddy the waters, like saying if you can marry a guy what will keep you from marrying your dog? There are laws against slavery and rape, which is what polygyny is, there is no need to bring it up in any argument about polygamy. Has nothing to do with it.

    I have mixed feelings about polygamy, as a 14 year old it was a dream, but as a 55 year old it sounds like a nightmare. Either way, if your are going to be really progressive about the issue, there seems to be no argument against it.

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  5. ThatGuy wrote:

    When polygyny is the predominant form of polygamy practiced around the world, I’d say it’s a valid argument against the practice. Again, the argument against gay marriage was, as far as I can tell, an argument against changing the traditional meaning of marriage. While this has been an element of the argument against polygamy as well, so has the human dignity, human rights, and equality issue I mentioned above.

    If you are talking about group marriage, where every member is married to every other member of the marriage, well there could be something worth looking at. It lessens the possibility that older wives are basically abandoned for younger women (or men, depending how the marriage goes) and would help sort out issues such as benefits, which are a big part of why DOMA was so bad for the LGBT community.

    Contrary to your suggestion, IL-08, I see a big difference between humans getting married, whatever the quantity or sex, and people marrying animals, thank you. I also know that polygamy is against international human rights agreements, check out point 24 here

    So, as it has been widely practiced, polygamy has not been the same moral issue as gay marriage. The LGBT community wants to be able to marry so that two men or two women who get married are afforded the same rights as a man and a woman who are married. Legally, two people entering a marriage are equal, so it’s an issue of whether or not you think homosexuality is moral or immoral. In polygamy, the issue of equality can be within the marriages themselves. Who gets the most benefits when a spouse dies? Does an older wife or husband have the ability to prevent another marriage from occurring? Are the rights of children from different spouses the same? There is a very real legal element here that significantly changes the game. Two men getting married can fit the same legal framework as a man and a woman getting married. Single or multiple men marrying multiple or single women, respectively or any combination thereof, requires different legal rules to ensure equality.

    I hope that clears the water a little bit for you. And yes, Hassan, I am against forcing morals on people. But I’m also against practices that have historically violated human rights and dignity, which has unfortunately been the case with polygamy. Is there a workable version? Perhaps. Has it been the one that has been being practiced? Not in any widespread (within the polygamy community) fashion.

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  6. Hassan wrote:

    @THATGUY, are you in favor of defining marriage at federal level. (any definition)? Although from my libertarian tendencies I would say, leave it to state, leave federal government out of it. But there are some cases that can only be done at federal level (no matter how small federal becomes). Namely, immigration. Also it is hypothetical situation (but from legal perspective we have to think about it, no offense to anyone), will federal government track the sexual orientation of a person. Can someone who marries straight and gets immigrated, and then becomes gay and marry someone from same orientation here or elsewhere, and potentially get more people immigrated? Or vice versa, a gay person becomes straight (for some reason) and do straight marriage to foreign person. It takes 10 years to get your brother or sister immigrated, can a man marry his sister to get her faster immigration?

    Is there any federal definition of marriage currently (I may not be aware, it seems there should be).

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    First of all, are any of you seriously suggesting that laws should not be based on morality? We have thousands of laws based on morality, like laws against having sex with a minor, laws against child pornography, laws against urinating on the bushes in a public park, and laws against public nudity, public sex, or public intoxication.

    The strongest argument that social conservatives made against gay marriage was that society had an interest in preventing gay marriage because it would cause the breakdown of social morality. If you are indeed arguing that the same reasons that gay marriage should be legal also apply to (any form of) polygamy, then you are making the argument for social conservatives.

    So who determines whether our society has an interest in a moral outcome? It is not us (progressives), arguing whether something should or should not be considered moral. It is society in general, through our representative government.

    The reason why DOMA is now gone and that gays can get married in an increasing number of states is not because we woke up one day and realized that we were discriminating against gays. It is because society in general has changed their opinion about gay marriage, and furthermore, realized that there is no societal interest in preventing gay marriage (and indeed, some societal interest in allowing it).

    If you want polygamy to be legal, then you should start convincing society in general that it is a reasonable thing (just like gays did with gay marriage).

    Lastly, there is a legal problem with arguments equating polygamy and gay marriage. A polygamist is not prevented from getting married. They are prevented only from marrying more than one person. This same rule applies to everyone. So there is no discrimination.

    You could make a stronger argument against laws prohibiting children from marrying. After all, those laws do discriminate. That guy quickly came up with a number of reasons why polygamy could be problematic for society. It doesn’t matter if I (or you) agree or disagree with those reasons, it only matters if society in general, expressed through our elected representatives, agrees.

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink
  8. Thatguy wrote:

    Hassan, prior to DOMA I believe it was federal policy to recognize any marriage that a state recognized. DOMA changed that to say the federal government could not recognize same-sex marriages. This meant that a same-sex partner could not receive benefits for their spouse’s death if those benefits came from the federal government (a military pension for example). With DOMA’s demise, this is no longer an issue.

    Hassan, I would tend to say the federal governments role should be to protect the rights of its people. Right now, the US is a party to the ICCPR, which prohibits polygamy on the grounds of human rights, so that is off the table for now. As for the immigration question, it would depend on the state. As far as I know, sibling marriage is illegal in every state. So thats out. As far as marrying multiple people to allow them entrance, thats illegal due to bigamy laws. Recognizing marriage licenses from abroad is different though i believe. Not sure what the law is there.

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    @Iron Knee, so you are telling me that section 2 (or whatever supreme court struck down in DOMA) was constitutional 15 years ago, and is not constitutional today because now society accepts it? So majority can indeed mandate the morality in US?

    Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, the constitution protects human rights, but our interpretation of those rights changes over time.

    Heck, the original framers of the constitution wrote *slavery* into it. Eventually, they had to amend the constitution to get rid of that. Society changes, and our interpretation of the constitution (and sometimes the constitution itself) changes to reflect those changing interpretations.

    Besides, what’s constitutional or not is ultimately decided by the Supreme Court. Remember that four of the members of the court voted that DOMA is still constitutional. So fifteen years ago you might have gotten a completely different outcome.

    The Supreme Court has even reversed themselves on some decisions, like “separate but equal” in civil rights. At one point it was constitutional, but later was decided that it was not.

    Like it or not, society can and does mandate morality. Yes, it leads to problems. What would you suggest instead? A theocracy? Luckily, our government has some safeguards to protect minority rights. It’s imperfect, but it sort-of works. As Winston Churchill said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

    Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 12:47 am | Permalink
  11. Michael wrote:

    I am rather ambivalent on polygamy. On the one hand, I agree with That Guy’s points that there are problems of equality in practice. In the majority of societies that have practiced polygamy, women’s rights are quite often trampled on. While I do think it is possible to have a more egalitarian form of polygamy, there is a dearth of historical evidence in favor of that view.

    My larger objection to polygamy is purely about logistics. If a man has two wives and he dies, are his possessions divided evenly? Does it matter which spouse came first? What if, instead of dying, the man just decides to leave and divorce both? What legal relationship would the ex-wives have? In geeky terms, what network topology does the marriage reflect? Star? Mesh?

    With the exception of the concern for women’s rights, I am not opposed to polygamy for moral reasons. If you can make it work and all participants are consenting adults, that’s fine. But trying to grant legal recognition creates a slew of issues that need to be addressed.

    Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink