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Paul Lillebo

Constructive citizen, independent


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Does permitting same-sex marriage lead to permitting polygamy? And so what?

Traditional western marriage is a union between a man and a woman. This involves two restrictions: 1) as to sex (M & F) and 2) as to number (1 & 1). The first (sex) seems to have been enforced in all societies until the past decade. The second (number) has not been restricted at all in many cultures - it's mainly the West of the last few hundred years that has insisted on monogamy. Even today many societies permit polygamy. Clearly, allowing same-sex marriage is a more radical decision than allowing plural marriage.

Recently same-sex marriage has been legalized in some states. The reasoning is that marriage, with its social and financial advantages, should be allowed among persons who love one another, and that this "natural human right" should not be denied on account of the sex of the parties.

Overlooked in discussions of same-sex marriage is this: if we decide that the "sex restriction" in marriage is an abrogation of a natural right to marry whom we love, it may be difficult to maintain the "number restriction." The argument for someone wishing to marry more than one loved one is the same (but less radical) as that for same-sex marriage. I see polygamists soon in the courts and legislatures demanding their right to marry those whom they love. And the courts will not deny their "natural right."

Legislation responds to "the squeaky wheel." Gays have squeaked, but polygamists have not. The full effects of laws are rarely discussed. One effect may be that redefining marriage will result in a new kind of domestic association, where groups of various sizes and sex ratios may join together in a new form of marriage.

In that future the best course may be to base all domestic relations on civil contract law, freeing marriage from its religious connections. In this future we may marry whom and as many as we wish, with a contract that tells our rights and duties within the group, along with rules for secession, etc. Sounds like a complex contract, but a logical outcom


Closing Statement from Paul Lillebo

Thank you all for good contributions. The answer in the end is that we must wait to see what the future brings. In the meantime, we all have the opportunity to try to influence our future. That's a fun - and often frustrating - part of the game of life.
Paul Lillebo

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    Apr 24 2013: Hi Paul.
    I agree with your logic, the squeaky wheel analogy is a good one.
    I was brought up in a conventional marriage. Occasionally my mum would not be there when I got home from school; I dreaded that, as a child I needed consistency. As a grown up, my children have expressed gratitude for our 40yr (& counting) stable marriage. Indeed we recently acquired a new 32yr old surrogate daughter who wanted some of the action, having had a disjointed childhood. This is what marriage is for, a lifelong commitment to providing a stable base for children & society at large. The wives of my neighbours can be friendly with me without concern over ulterior motives etc.
    Now if folks want a different arrangement, then there has never been any impediment to that. Guys live with guys, gals live with gals, etc etc. Are we really going to try & lump all this together under some sort of legalised free for all ? It appears to me that the result will not be any enhancement of the human condition, but the destruction of the proven best launching pad for the citizens of the planet. After all, the lifelong commitment of two people is a big deal; it is not an easy task; surely the least we can do to acknowledge that kind of sacrifice is to leave well alone. There is a real danger that all these squeaky wheels will come off & leave us without a leg to stand on!

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      Apr 24 2013: How are you thinking that someone else's marriage affects your legs or your marriage?
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        Apr 24 2013: It's what becomes the norm. If marriage becomes so nondescript then it's meaning is diluted for everyone. Ticking the 'married' box on a form will tell no-one anything. Why do different arrangements have to be called 'marriage'? I guess the solution may be for lifelong hetro unions to be called something else. That would be ok, but it's silly. It works fine; why mess with it. Why are we so down on good tried & tested stuff all of a sudden; are we on self-destruct, or what?

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          Apr 25 2013: Some thought slavery or apartheid or women not having the vote worked fine?

          I suggest the that dont fix what aint broke argument fails if many consider it is discriminatory, it is broken.

          As for marriage being meaningless, it seems to have meaning for many gay people who want to have the same opportunity, ss couples will have the same rights and obligations under the law. I get your point, where do you draw the line.

          I suggest ssm is not going to make marriage meaningless. From a conservative perspective marriage is a stabilising social construct, and extending it to ss couples should increase this stabilising factor more imo.

          Perhaps we should have different names for current marriages where the couple intend to have children, those that dont, those marrying a second or third time, or where the races or religions are different etc. i dont understand from what you have written here why you think ss couples making the same commitment as hetero couples, with the same legal impacts, should not have the right to call it marriage.

          I applaud your apparent acceptance of other people not conforming to your ideals, or making a religious based argument. I guess your point above is ssm will damage the institution of marriage, and you think the word does not need to be applied to ss couples.

          I guess many homosexuals and many others think it is discriminatory and are not convinced it will damage the institution of marriage. Others, often with religious perspectives, believe marriage should only be between a man and a women, or that homosexuality is immoral, or they just feel uncomfortable with it. Many genuinely feel it is a retrograde step, while others see it as progressive.
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        Apr 25 2013: Hi Obey.
        You will know I do have a 'faith' position. However the question is about ssm leading to polygamy. There is perhaps an argument for ssm to be treated as ordinary marriage. Personally I would protest, but that's another matter. However what about polygamy (on either side), what about marrying your pet cat ? What about your deceased Aunty Maude ? Every one of us has a limit, but if we really believe in personal freedom, then what right have we to impose our standards on anyone else.
        I see this as the slippery slope. My limit personally is at the top, everyone will have their own position.
        To the question. Yes ssm will inevitably lead to legalising polygamy. Lots of folks practice it already, the only difference will be that they will have the right to call it marriage; much to the confusion of boring old farts like myself.

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          Apr 26 2013: Hi peter, i suggest we look at each on its merits.

          Ssm doesnt seem to hurt anyone, and from my perspective is about equality, 2 people making a commitment with legal implications, having the same right to a symbolic union.

          marrying cats is a completely different question. I personally dont think ssm will lead to a groundswell of support for this. More importantly i suggest a sexual relationship between a human and a cat is an uneven one, and not something i would support. Whereas i have no issue with adult humans freely choosing their own sexual or relationship partners of any sex.
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      Apr 24 2013: I also grew up in a traditional household in which my mother was always home when I returned from school and my father was home for dinner. And I have had a stable, happy marriage for 30+ years and a close family. I would not exchange this for anything else either.

      But I don't see that other people's having different strong families takes anything away from me. It improves the quality of life for those people though.

      It's what sometimes is called a pareto improvement. That is, it makes some people better off without making others worse off.
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      Apr 25 2013: Peter,
      You ask..."Are we really going to try & lump all this together under some sort of legalised free for all ?"

      No Peter, it is not a "free for all". It is simply letting go of prejudice, discrimination and fear of something you do not agree with. It is recognizing that ALL people have the same rights to choose their life partners. Recognizing the love of two people does not "dilute" anything. It actually makes our societies stronger. Discrimination and prejudice weaken our societies.

      Remember what your bible teaches you Peter.....love thy neighbor....we are all one.....made in the image and likeness of god:>) This is why I left the church I was born into Peter. Because there was so much hypocrisy.
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        Apr 25 2013: Hi Colleen.
        I don't think I'm being prejudiced or hypocritical. I have stated my case honestly & without malice. I just believe it wrong to mess with the language. I met a couple of guys recently who had a non-sexual lifetime commitment to one another but allowed for incidental female sexual partners along the way. One was a professor, he made the money; the other was a musician, he made the fun. Now I took to them both; great guys. I understood, and, bible notwithstanding, applauded what they were attempting to achieve. However, if they had merely said they were married, I would not have understood at all. They had a shorthand way of putting it, but I still had to ask. If I introduce my wife as the woman I married then folks know exactly what our relationship is, no clarification required. Is it really asking too much for that situation to continue ?

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          Apr 25 2013: No one is "messing" with the language Peter. The laws which legalize same sex marriage use the same definition for marriage that has been accepted for a very long time. The only thing that has changed, is that now, in some states, ALL marriages are recognized regardless of sexual preference.

          You ask..."Is it really asking too much for that situation to continue ?"

          It depends on which situation you are refering to Peter. I personally, would never attempt to tell other people how to live their lives.
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          Apr 26 2013: Hi peter, i suggest hetero marriage is not as uniform as you suggest.
          Some have open marriages etc.
          Some married for visas
          Some are have cheating.
          Some were arranged by parents or match makers
          Some have children
          Some can not have children or do not want too
          Some are seen through religious perspectives
          Some are purely secular
          Some are second or third attempts.
          Some are just staying together for the kids etc
          Some are violent and abusive
          Some loving

          I suggest we can cope with all the above where the couples may be ss.

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