January 19, 2006
Could Same-Sex Marriage Lead to Legalized Polygamy?
conservatives argue that legalizing same-sex marriage could lead
to legalized polygamy, same-sex marriage advocates either laugh
or sneer. It's a scare tactic, they say. It'll never happen.
however, as Canada legalized same-sex marriage, Prime Minister
Paul Martin commissioned a $150,000 study to debunk the polygamy
argument. Big mistake: The study confirmed the scare tactic by
recommending that Canada repeal its anti-polygamy law.
suggested that a legal challenge to Canada's anti-polygamy laws
would succeed. "Why criminalize behavior?" asked Martha
Bailey, one of the study's three law-professor authors. "We
don't criminalize adultery."
time: I am one of those who, for years, has argued that legalizing
same-sex marriage would not open the door for polygamy. The limit
for marriages would remain two, I argued. Two doesn't mean three
these politically correct times, do-gooders expand definitions
until words -- or institutions -- lose all meaning. Marriage can
mean what you want it to mean.
you don't prosecute all crimes in a category, you can't prosecute
what Bailey argued.
recognized the "strong association between polygamy and gender
inequality." Then the authors apparently decided that Canadian
law should eliminate any legal unfairness -- in inherently unequal
wife can't move to Canada to live with her husband and another
wife. That's unfair to the wife and unfair to Muslims. The study
noted, "The parties most likely to suffer from this rule
are the left-behind wives." To eliminate that inequity, these
professors are ready to provide legal cover for all polygamous
(and polyandrous) marriages.
a logical extension to it," laughed Rob Stutzman, who worked
on the Proposition 22 campaign in 2000, a measure that limited
marriage in California to a union between a man and a woman. "If
you accept the premise that marriage should be whatever relationships
people want to enter into," he said, polygamy is legit.
of the Human Rights Campaign, which supports same-sex marriage,
finds any linkage of polygamy to same-sex marriage "offensive."
He warned against reading too much into one Canadian study. In
America, he said, "two people is the defining element in
our system of government on contractual marriage."
Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who has pushed for same-sex marriage
in California, noted "a unique nature of a relationship with
two. If you go beyond two, you can't draw a line anywhere else
that isn't arbitrary." I agree, but the Canadian study gives
me pause. The authors use a very American argument: that adults
already are living in de facto polygamous relationships, so why
make their arrangements illegal?
is that even if authorities cannot and should not jail adults
for group cohabitation, the state should not extend legal protections
to those unions.
marital protections to same-sex couples bestows equality. Extending
protections to unequal unions protects inequality.
Times interviewed polygamous Mormons who argued they lead
happy, harmonious lives. That may be, but the practice is poison
for cultures at large. Rich men marry many wives. Poor men do
not. Women have few opportunities and limited rights. It can't
be good for the kids. Consider polygamy's most famous son: Osama
bin Laden, whose father sired 54 children with 22 wives.
argue that Canada is 10 years ahead of America when it comes to
gay rights. But when legal scholars are so progressive that they
are willing to shove marriage back to the Stone Age, they reveal
a culture with a death wish.
advocates for same-sex marriage may want to reconsider supporting
civil unions in lieu of same-sex marriage. Or some way to limit
marriage to two adults.
the nanny state. It's the opposite. If you want to keep the government
out of family life, don't legalize marriages that, when they dissolve,
split property (and kids) between one husband and three wives.
2005 Creators Syndicate