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21 July 2011, 9:00 am 11 Comments

Not Your Average Prom Queen: What’s Better: Two Dads or Four Wives?

This post was submitted by Jean

Photo Credit: Wikicommons

The slippery slope logic of modern reasoning has provided ample cud for conservatives and the religious to chew on for decades. Marriage equality defenders have argued vehemently against the suggestion that obtaining marriage equality is the first step in the inevitable degradation of our country’s moral fiber, but for some reason this “logic” always seems to come back up. The logic is as follows: The legalization of “gay marriage” destroys the “definition of marriage” as a union between one man and one woman, kicking open the door to allow the legalization of pedophilia, bestiality and polygamy.

I’d guess that the majority of Americans abhor these acts, which is why it is a problem when people like Catholic Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, warn us that marriage equality in New York is the “latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, [and] that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity.”

Comments like this cause people who might otherwise defend marriage equality to rethink about what sort of Pandora’s box they might be opening that allows old ladies to marry their cats.

Among the Just Say No to Expanding the Definition of Marriage folks, is a small minority of dissenters. These folks support this imaginary Pandora’s Box result and hope to benefit from it. Luckily, most of these arguments are weak, at best. It’s easy remind NAMBLA supporters that a child is not a consenting individual and thus cannot make the decision to engage in a relationship with an adult any more than he or she can vote or join the US military.  And it’s illegal. Very illegal.

The same logic model can be shared with the fear mongers who try to convince Americans that legal bestiality is swift on the heels of DOMA’s repeal. Animals can’t provide consent, so there is much doubt that a sex with animals case is moving into the Supreme court any time soon.

Debating these ignorant prophecies has always been easy for me – because to me the difference between two consenting adults of any gender and an adult and a child/turtle seeking a marriage license is pretty darn clear – but when I read of the recent lawsuit from a famous polygamist it was harder for me to come to a firm conclusion.

As gay marriage rights activists, we support ourselves on the raft that there is no “definition of marriage” to defend. We rally because two men can be incredible parents to a child and because in a sea of non-traditional, blended and broken families, gay parents might be even more stable than the families of the other neighborhood kids. We stand behind marriage equality because what we do in our bedrooms is none of anyone’s business. Because we are consenting adults who deserve equal rights under the law.

The lawsuit, filed by the star of the popular TLC  reality TV show Sister Wives, Kody Brown, “will ask the federal courts to tell states that they cannot punish polygamists for their own “intimate conduct” so long as they are not breaking other laws, like those regarding child abuse, incest or seeking multiple marriage licenses”  (New York Times).

So, really this is just a man and a few women living together in a house raising children. What’s really so illegal about that? They aren’t asking for polygamy to be legalized – they are asking for their private business (sited as “unconstitutional intrusions on the ‘intimate conduct’ of consenting adults” in Lawrence v. Texas) to be kept private.

I personally have no interest in engaging in a polygamous union, or anything of the sort.

Part of me also fears the prominence of misogyny in a single male, multiple female household – but no marriage, partnership or relationship is free from that possibility.

I know that most polygamists are Morm0n, and that acknowledging the act is akin to governmentally condoning a religious belief, but we’ve never restricted Catholic or Christian rites or traditions governmentally. In fact, I think we have an amendment about that.

Maybe I’m just getting more liberal as I age, but I can’t really find a strong argument against Kody Brown.

Can you?

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  • Alex said:

    While Mormons certainly dominate the US idea of “polygamy”, and may be more likely to identify as “polygamists”, if you meant “people who are or might theoretically be interested in multiple/group marriage” I think it would not be clear at all that Mormons would be in the majority. There are LOTS of poly people, and in general we stay under the radar because a) we don’t generally use religion to brainwash people into consenting and b) we don’t tend to be interested in trafficking underage girls.

    If poly people deserve the same right to privacy that monogamous folks do, how is equally applying the law “akin to governmentally condoning a religious belief”? And if we don’t… where does that line get drawn? Do multiple adults have to be living together? Does Michael and Zack’s sexually open relationship make them vulnerable?

    Also, consider that allowing families like Brown’s (which seem reasonably sane and consensual) to live openly means it might be easier to identify those in Mormon communities who are doing legitimately skeevey things like marrying off 12 year old girls.

  • Doctor Whom said:

    People who want to defend “traditional,” “Biblically correct” marriage against polygamy either don’t know, or are willing to lie about, what both the preponderance of human tradition and the Bible actually say about polygamy.

    The ultimate answer, I think, is to privatize marriage altogether. Parties who are capable of consenting and who actually do so should be free to form whatever contractual relationships suit them.

  • Jackie Rose said:

    Anybody who has kids knows what a handful they are, and I for one could have used another woman to help out with stuff when mine were younger. She could have all the sex she wanted with my lazy husband; hell, it would give me more time to catch up on sleep!! lol

  • Dad's Law said:

    I say two dads.

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