2015 July 02 Thursday
Because We Said So: Polygamous Marriage Not Next Logical Step

Cathy Young asserts Polygamy Is Not Next. Why? Marriage is a dyad.

the entire existing structure of modern marriage is designed for a dyad

Dyad, Shmyad. This dyado-normative argument does not hold up to rights-oriented scrutiny. Polygamy has been around for many centuries and is still legal and normal in some parts of the world. It is far older and still more widely accepted than single sex marriage.

What is the relevance of the claim that the existing structure is marriage is designed in Western countries? For members of the liberal project the need to change the design of a social structure has not been seen as a legitimate reason to deny rights to previously marginalized minorities. Au contraire. Radical uprooting and replacement of traditions has been the order of the day.

Of course some on the Left will call for legalization of polygamous marriage and group marriage. But what next becomes a cause to extend rights is not entirely about being consistent in one's principles. The biggest obstacle to the spread of polygamous marriage: The paucity of examples favorably portrayed in the media.

Will the media change their tune and start running pieces aimed at building empathy for polygamous men and women? Seems unlikely. The polygamists aren't living in NYC and SF. So the media writers aren't going to meet them. Plus, the polygamists aren't (to my knowledge) liberal Democrats involved in liberal circles. So I don't expect reporters and commentators are going to build relationships with polygamists.

What's the best thing the polygamists have going for them? Its getting harder to find causes for expanding rights. Fredrik deBoer thinks it is logically inconsistent to be for same sex marriage and yet opposed to polygamy. See his article Itís Time to Legalize Polygamy: Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism.

Now, I could give you a pragmatic argument against polygamy (like leaving most males without a mate seems unhealthy for a society). But pragmatic considerations aren't considered as morally legitimate - unless of course the argument for rights is ignored when it convenient to do so.

I could also argue that marriage is not innately a right. It exists for the benefit of society as a whole in order to provide a supportive environment for genetic parents to raise their who they feel loyal to largely for reasons to genetic relatedness. But that sort of biological thinking is way beyond the Pale of modern liberal thought.

So will we see a significant movement to legalize polygamy? I do not see the votes for it. I also think that Ruth Bader Ginzburg, Sonia Satomayor, and Elena Kagan are not inclined to look favorably on a guy married to and effectively master of several women. So polygamy's prospects at the Supreme Court level seem dim at this point. But I could be wrong.

Do you expect to live to see legalized polygamy?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 July 02 02:44 PM 

WJ said at July 2, 2015 9:30 PM:

"Do you expect to live to see legalized polygamy?"

Polygamy in the US now is legal compared to the 19th Century, when it was actively suppressed. You can be a polygamist, or a serial monogamist, and get away with it without any fear of going to jail.

But most of the people who practice it have no need or desire to a right to state-recognized plural marriage. To the contrary, polygamists are heavy users of the welfare state. Something like half of all polygamists use Medicaid and food stamps. Legally marrying each other would reduce their access to welfare programs.

If there is pressure for plural marriage it will be from elites who secretly would like to marry multiple spouses (there probably aren't many of those) and Muslim immigrants who want to sponsor bringing their multiple wives to the US.

Conservative judges will be against it for various conservative reasons. Leftist judges will be against it because, unlike gays, they don't see polygamists, who are actually temperamentally conservative, as their allies.

Jim said at July 3, 2015 3:54 PM:

Probably not likely in the US in the near future. However in European countries that develop substantial Muslim populations polygamy may become legal.

Jason Bayz said at July 3, 2015 10:28 PM:

I don't expect to see it. Unlike homosexuals, fundamentalist Mormons and Muslims are not the kind of people our elites sympathize with, nor are they the kind of people the masses sympathize with. Steve Sailer has suggested it might be done to benefit African polygamists, but they only have power in the sense that they can get sympathy with the White/Jewish elites. Regular Blacks aren't going to have much sympathy with it, and so if any African polygamist immigrants decide to create a "movement" dedicated to it you can be sure that that movement will get no media attention.

The left might see polygamy as attractive as a way to mock and denigrate the traditions and values of White Christian America. That, rather than any silliness about "hospital visits" and the like seemed to be the main attraction of the homosexual marriage movement. But polygamy is also inherently anti-feminist.

Brett Bellmore said at July 4, 2015 5:21 AM:

I fully expect to see it, on several basis.

1. Let's face it, the legal argument in favor of polygamy is just a stronger argument. It's a traditional form of marriage that goes back as far as monogamous heterosexual marriage. The government is continually confronted with people in polygamous marriages applying for entry to the country, so it's a live issue. And it even has a history in the US, which is more than you can say of SSM, which just appeared out of nowhere barely a decade ago.

2. There are probably a number of wealthy people who'd like to be able to engage in it openly. Maybe the sort of low visibility people who WJ refers to don't need it 'legal' to practice it, but high visibility people do. And they've got a lot of money and other sorts of influence to push the legal trends.

3. It's a step in shifting the Overton window in a direction many in government would like. If you follow the sort of news that tends not to get carried in it's country of origin, it's pretty clear that pedophilia is rampant in a number of western governments, likely including our own. (Note that ex-President Bill Clinton is known to have regularly visited the pedophile equivalent of fantasy island, but, is he being prosecuted? No. Think that's an accident? I don't.) The wider the range of sexual relationships they can make legally acceptable, the less beyond the pale their own quirk becomes. They might not be able to stretch it enough to make pedophilia legally accepted, but if they can get enough stuff legal, they can make it no big deal as far as the law is concerned, and rely on the public that hold to conventional morality being mired in resignation.

4. The recent ruling just eviscerated any logical basis for any restriction on who and how many people can marry. Seriously, there's no basis left for objecting to polygamy, if you take Kennedy's opinion seriously. He just rejected morality as a basis of law. Granted, even most people who liked the outcome think it's a steaming heap of causitry. But it's a steaming heap of causitry which is now binding on the lower courts.

Big Bill said at July 25, 2015 12:16 PM:

Oh for heaven's sake! Cathy Young knows she is talking crap. As an educated Jew she knows that polygamy has always been lawful (although at times discouraged)under Jewish law. She knows that a temporary rule against polygamy was created about 1000 years ago and has since expired. She knows that any Jewish man can marry multiple wives if he persuades (i.e. makes suitable donations to) 100 rabbis. Google "heter meah rabbonim" for goodness sakes! And she also knows that many prominent Jewish men around the world ARE bigamists under Jewish law. Where does she get this goofy 'dyad' stuff? Does she really figure in this internet age that us dumb goyim cannot do a simple Google search?

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