Paul Lillebo

Constructive citizen, independent


This conversation is closed.

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 25 2013: No Paul,
    Legalizing same sex marriage does not lead to polygamy. These are two very different practices and preferences. This topic has been brought up on TED several times, so apparently there is still a lot of fear around it.

    Marriage is a union of two people who want to share the life experience together. Whatever one's sexual preference is, should not deny people the same rights as everyone else has under the law. Same sex partners have lived together since the beginning of time, so I do not understand why you say..."The first (sex) seems to have been enforced in all societies until the past decade". Nothing was "enforced", regarding same sex partnerships, it simply was not recognized as a legal union.

    What are you talking about...."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."....??? You are projecting your own fear of something, and it's not really clear what that fear is.

    I have many friends who have different sexual preferences, and we have discussed the "full effects of laws". The "full effects of laws" were also discussed extensively by a lot of people when the state I live in (Vermont) was one of the first to legalize same sex marriage. I don't know where you get the idea that "the full effects of laws are rarely discussed". Perhaps that is your personal experience.

    I personally, do not understand why some folks are so afraid of people who have different sexual preferences, which have been practiced since the beginning of humankind. I believe ALL people should have the same rights under the law to choose and marry their life partner. Surely, you recognize that allowing SOME people to choose their life partners, while denying other people the same right is prejudice and discrimination, which are against the law.
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      Apr 25 2013: Thanks, Colleen, for the bit of psychoanalysis. I see the result is that I have "fears" of this or that type of marriage. The good thing about discussion is that I learn something new every time.

      Actually, the question being discussed is a very straightforward one: whether we think plural marriage will be the next type of marriage arrangement to be permitted, if the court determines that the old strictures on marriage violate natural human rights. I really don't see any "fear" in posing that question, as you suggest. It's a straightforward sociological question about likely futures. So I invite you to discuss that question. I also invite you to read the intro again, with an open mind, when I think you will not find the misunderstandings that you report in your comment. It actually seems pretty clear.

      You probably didn't notice that I suggested, as a "best course" in the future, contract-based marriage, restricted neither by number nor sex.

      But perhaps you're right. Perhaps you are a competent psychoanalyst and I'm "projecting [my] own fear of something," as you suggest. Wonder what it is. It's certainly not of marriages, of any kind.
      Cheers anyway,
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        Apr 25 2013: You are welcome Paul, and there is no psychoanalysis on my part. I am simply reading your comments, and usually, when a person would like to deny SOME people the same rights that MANY people have, it is fear based...that is common knowledge.

        I read your intro and your comments on this thread several times, with an open heart and mind, to make sure I understood what you are trying to express, to the best of my ability. I do not "report" any misunderstandings in my comment, but rather shared my perspective regarding the question you present.

        I do not agree with your perspectives, and there is a difference between not agreeing, and not understanding. I also am aware that it is common practice for some people to claim lack of understanding, when someone disagrees with him/her.

        I understand clearly Paul, what the question is, and I have answered it clearly. The courts, to the best of my knowledge, have not "changed" anything about marriage. The legislative bodies which legalize same sex marriage have not "changed" anything about marriage. They now, simply recognize that ALL people have the same rights to choose a marriage partner.

        I noticed EVERYTHING you wrote, and in my perception, the "best course" is to give ALL people the right to choose their life partner, just as SOME people have that right under the law. I have no desire to control other people's choices regarding sexual preference. That, in my perception, demonstrates prejudice and discrimination, which I do not support.

        Here is my clear answer to the question you present in case you didn't notice, or didn't understand.
        "Legalizing same sex marriage does not lead to polygamy. These are two very different practices and preferences".
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          Apr 25 2013: "...when a person would like to deny SOME people the same rights that MANY people have, it is fear based..."

          That may well be so, but I don't see what it has to do with this question or with my comment. You seem to be addressing this sermon to me, but there is nothing in my debate position, nor in my comment to you, that would suggest that I wish to deny anything to anyone. I've simply asked the question of whether polygamists will succeed in using the "natural right" argument to permit their unions. You seem to get upset over that simple question.

          To put it so clearly that you really must stop preaching at me: I'm not against homosexual marriage, and I'm not against polygamous marriage, and I haven't suggested denying rights to anyone. Capiche?

          By the way, you yourself seem opposed to polygamous marriage when you state, "Marriage is a union of two people ..." Why only two? Are you trying to deny the same rights to polygamists? Should I remind you that "...when a person would like to deny SOME people the same rights that MANY people have, it is fear based..."
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        Apr 25 2013: Sorry you perceive my comments as "sermon" Paul, which is not my intent. I am clearly responding to your intro and comments. I AM indeed addressing my comments to you because we seem to be having a conversation, and I'm not at all "upset" Paul:>)

        Your question is "Does permitting same-sex marriage lead to permitting polygamy?"

        My "Legalizing same sex marriage does not lead to polygamy. These are two very different practices and preferences".

        You ask..."By the way, you yourself seem opposed to polygamous marriage when you state, "Marriage is a union of two people ..." Why only two?"

        Paul, I am addressing your topic question. Your intro seems to focus on same sex marriage in my perception. I suggest if you want to discuss polygamous marriage, you start another discussion.
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          Apr 25 2013: "I am addressing your topic question. Your intro seems to focus on same sex marriage in my perception. I suggest if you want to discuss polygamous marriage, you start another discussion. "

          Ah, Colleen, there's the problem.

          My topic, my intro, the debate -- is actually not about same-sex marriage at all. I didn't ask any question about ssm. I asked, given the falling of restrictions on marriage (and here I used the example of ssm), can we expect that in the future the restriction on "number" in marriage will also fall, as a result of legal or legislative action by those who would like to see such a development? So the question, and this debate, is precisely about polygamous marriage and its future likelihood. Since that's what I set up in the intro, I fortunately don't need to start another discussion about it. Sorry if my writing is not as plain as it should be.
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        Apr 25 2013: Dear Paul,
        I don't have a problem. If you do, perhaps you could resolve that in yourself. I joined this conversation and addressed your question.

        It might help for you to evaluate carefully what you write?
        "My topic, my intro, the debate -- is actually not about same-sex marriage at all".
        "...(and here I used the example of ssm)..."

        You say it is not about same-sex marriage at're just using that example!!!

        Your question:
        "Does permitting same-sex marriage lead to permitting polygamy"

        My response:
        "Legalizing same sex marriage does not lead to polygamy. These are two very different practices and preferences".

        I do not predict the "future likelihood" of polygamous marriage or anything else.
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      Apr 25 2013: I believe that permitting the legalization of gay marriage does open the door to legalizing polygamy down the road. I personally am gay and live in Canada where gay marriage is legal and polygamy is not. But I think down the road polygamy marriages is going to be a topic to come forward. I know of a very successful poly long-term relationship and I believe that if they would like to get married in the future all three should be bound together not just two.

      I believe in freedom of choice.
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        Apr 25 2013: I also believe in freedom of choice Louise:>)
        It looks like you are relatively new to TED? WELCOME!
  • Apr 24 2013: I don't see how lifelong commitments did anything for slavery, murder, rape, war, and a list of other negative conditions. I think we will be fine.

    Openly allowing people to be who they are, or want to be, is a defining characteristic of progress. Unbiased expression allows for everyone to feel that they are part of the team.

    We cannot exclude people from society because they don't meet our standards. Haven't we done that already? I think we should learn from our mistakes. Let people do what they want within a realistic set of limitations...not limitations set by rhetoric and a total disregard for human-rights.

    Henry J. Woeltjen
    B.S. Criminal Justice Administration
    MBA Student
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      Apr 24 2013: If "we cannot exclude people from our society because they don't meet our standards", then why do we have so many prisons and facilities for the criminally insane? The "realistic set of limitations" you mention is another way of saying "the law". If someone's "unbiased expression of openly being who they are" flies in the face of everything I believe to be right and good, then I don't really feel like I am "part of their team", quite the contrary. If two, or more, men want to live together that is no business of mine. But when my society and its leaders agree to recognize their relationship as if they were a married man and woman that makes it my business. In a Representative Republic like the USA each citizen has a right to participate in the process of legislating that "realistic set of limitations" of which you spoke. I do not recall being allowed to vote on the redefinition of marriage. Something is amiss.
      • Apr 24 2013: If your standards only exist to benefit you...they aren't relevant to anybody else...but you
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          Apr 24 2013: Really? Let's say I decide to dam the flow of the creek on my property so only I can benefit from a lovely pond with little ducks. Would the property owners downstream find it relevant that their creek stopped flowing? In a Representative Republic, or in a Democracy, the "realistic set of limitations" we call the law is never one person's command. Have the majority of voters in any state voted to redefine marriage? I tell you Mr. Woeltjen, I think most Americans would keep the definition of marriage as it was originaliy instituted. Then we would not need to discuss whether homosexual marriage will lead to homosexual, or heterosexual, bigamy.
      • Apr 24 2013: We also use to think African American's were below the white race....simply because we thought so. Your using the same logic here.

        Just because some of you think it...doesn't make it right.

        Nobody cares about marriage. This is about having he same tax breaks and benefits for everyone...not just those of you who decide to follow a certain religion.

        You talk about "realistic limitations".

        "Your gay so you cannot get married" is NOT realistic. It has no foundation..except for your fear of change.

        If you believe in God...then you should also understand you are a student. No reason to question homosexuality...God made that possible.

        Or did he not have control in that area? I doubt that Edward.

        "Let he who is without sin...cast the first stone."
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          Apr 24 2013: My responses do not take long to read and respond to do they? Perhaps they lack substance. Anyway. I never believed black people were below white people so I can't debate that with you. I think each member of the human race is created equal. I was quoting you when I used the phrase "realistic limitations". You may want to have another look at the Holy Bible before you preach about homosexuality being something God made possible (I suggest the book of Romans, chapter 1, verses 27 thru 30). I am not casting stones. I am expressing an opinion opposed to yours. You are doing the same with me, so are you throwing stones? You are not respecting my right to express an opposing opinion and you are working on a Master's in Justice Administration? Again, sir, something is not right here.
      • Apr 25 2013: I suggest you read about Constantine and the Nicene Council before you go spouting off about bible text. I probably know more about your own religion than you. All of that homosexual hate could have been a total fabrication. You have no way of attributing that to God...unless you have spoken to him. If that's the case...well that's a different conversation.

        My God doesn't create people for us to hate....sorry.

        I am not telling an entire group of people what they can or cannot do. So no...I am not throwing stones.
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          Apr 25 2013: So, according to you the only way one can attribute anything to God is to have spoken with him? Interesting that you were quick to quote John 6:8 (have you conversed with God?), but when I quote verbatim from the same Bible you call it "spouting-off". I'm curious about how you claim to know more about my religion than I do when you do not even know what my religion is? Anyway, if homosexual marriage is accepted by society why would bigamy, or inter-species marriage not be accepted? I think the post is asking an important question. What is your answer as a highly educated Administrator of Justice Mr. Woeltjen?
      • Apr 25 2013: You said:
        "So, according to you the only way one can attribute anything to God is to have spoken with him?"

        Yes...other than that you have the Ten Commandments....and that surprisingly doesn't list being gay as a sin. Funny that he wouldn't throw that in huh?

        Your entire post is rhetoric, and your jabs about my education wont work.

        Does permitting same sex marriage lead to I'm not even sure how you make that connection.
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          Apr 25 2013: I did not make the connection, Mr. Lillebo did as I hope you read in his post.You are aware, sir, that there are people who hold a different opinion than yours on this, and probably every other subject? Do you hold them all in contempt and reduce their opinions to rhetoric? Speaking of rhetoric. You do know that it does not invite, or require, a response? Good luck with that Master of Criminal Administration degree, use it with compassion, understanding and tolerance. "Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy." (The 4th commandment).
      • Apr 25 2013: You are talking about compassion, understanding, and tolerance? That's funny.

        I am working on a Masters in Business Administration...not Criminal Justice Administration. That's just part of you assuming you already know everything.

        Don't assume your age is indicative of greater knowledge or understanding. That logic is obviously flawed.

        I'll quote your own profile:
        " If we cared for one another as much as we care for ourselves life would improve. The hard part is to control the corrupt, sinful heart of Man. Global peace and prosperity depend upon it."

        Some people just need to learn how to apply that.
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          Apr 25 2013: Good point Henry....some folks do not always apply what they preach.
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          Apr 25 2013: Sorry. I was not entirely assuming, sir. I read in your bio that you are an expert on Criminal Justice and were working on an MBA. My bad for assuming the MBA was in your area of expertise, and for assuming you had only one area of expertise. How many areas of expertise do you have? If I have demonstrated a bias regarding having superior knowledge and understanding I assure you it was unintentional, but thanks for the reminder. I do need to be better at applying the statement in my bio. Again, thanks for the reminder. Now, enough about my faults. Regarding the topic do you agree with my most recent post above which begins, "Your point is forceful. . ."? I hope you will offer an on-topic response free of ad hominem argument. Thank you!
      • Apr 25 2013: Opinions are fine. Opinions that impact other people are fine as well. However, when applying opinions that impact other may want to consider something other than your own feelings.

        If you want to define policy per your opinion...I would suggest you base that opinion on some sort of absolute logic.

        Linking polygamy with allowing homosexuals to get married has no foundation in logic, reason, study, or any other form of actual understanding.

        This is pure emotion at work.

        "We should regulate guns because guns are used in negative ways."

        Ok that has some validity.

        "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."

        What? Do you see how long it has taken to even consider allowing these people to get married? You really think this is something that we are on the brink of embracing?

        Stop making these people into "trend setters". Homosexuals were around way before you were born. This is not the result of weak public policy. This is a matter of equality and fair treatment...period.
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          Apr 25 2013: I sense neither of us has profited from our exchange on the two subjects we have discussed, 1) My personal shortcomings, and 2) the question about legailizing homosexual marriage increasing the liklihood of adoption of other variations on the definition of marriage. That being the case I propose we agree to cease and desist. I'll start.
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    Apr 25 2013: First I would like to say that the same-sex marriage does exist in our history albeit quite far back.

    Secondly I would like to say that I support your last statement of basing all domestic relations on a civil contract law. Marriage is a legal agreement between two people. Yes, marriage is about love but also has legal obligations. I think a human being should have the right to choose who and however many partners they want. If they would like to go into a legal contract with the said individual(s) all the power to them. Marriage is not something someone enters lightly therefore if they are willing to marry more then one individual let the person do so. They most likely have thought about it long and hard.
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      Apr 26 2013: Louise,
      If your first sentence is correct, I may be mistaken where I said in the set-up that the sexual restriction "seems to have been enforced in all societies" until recently. If you have more specific information about where and when same-sex marriage has been legal in the past, I'd appreciate hearing about it.
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      Apr 26 2013: Paul,
      Louise's statement is correct, and I brought this to your attention in my first comment on this thread. Check out this link....scroll down to "Ancient". And of course there are LOTS of other references regarding the information you seek.

      The statement from my first comment on this thread...
      "Same sex partners have lived together since the beginning of time, so I do not understand why you say..."The first (sex) seems to have been enforced in all societies until the past decade". Nothing was "enforced", regarding same sex partnerships, it simply was not recognized as a legal union."

      When I wrote that it was not recognized as a legal union, I was refering to past modern times. It actually WAS recognized in ancient times.
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        Apr 26 2013: I've read the Wikipedia reference you give. It says specifically that none of the ancient examples given there is known to have been actually recognized in law. They seem to all have been a matter of extra-legal celebrations, even if by an emperor. There may of course be other references that can give examples of actual law-based same sex marriage in the past, but I haven't yet seen any. Laura's statement also does not refer to legal marriage, which this discussion is about. You repeat again that "same sex partners have lived together ..." We all know that, Colleen, and that's not the issue. While same sex partners were living together, the state or the church was enforcing the restriction against their legal marriage, as I wrote. That's also well known.
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          Apr 26 2013: Paul,
          When you refer to "Laura's statement", do you mean Louise Layton's statement?

          The link I provide DOES NOT say "specifically that none of the ancient examples given there is known to have been actually recognized in law".

          It says the ROMAN EMPIRE did not legalize same sex marriage. With the other examples, there is no mention of legality. They say that the marriages were supported by the citizens with huge mention of legality.

          IF the marriages were illegal, do you honestly think the rulers would be marrying same sex partners and having huge public celebrations? That doesn't make much sense!

          Paul, honestly, it is difficult to know what this "discussion is about" because it seems like you keep changing your mind. If you KNOW all this Paul, as you say, why the heck do you keep asking the questions??? So you can simply tell us that you know all that already???
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    Apr 27 2013: Part 2
    Whatever it was, all the ideas that marriages were to have had remained primarily a sexual relationship between two persons of differing sex. There had remained exceptions, but I think the overwhelmingly greater number of such marriages were between persons of differing sex.
    I am by no means against same sex marriages but I think within the idea and meaning of marriage this is an oxymoron. The latest coinage of a civil union is way more rational. I don't think the gay people care much about what their relationship is called as as long as they can have that legalized with full human dignity. In a 9 Bn people world, the biological/survival propriety is also not important anymore, because much higher threats to human social structures come from elsewhere.
    To conclude, in todays world marriage cannot be claimed as a natural law anymore, because it has been modified by way many social value oriented inputs compared to biological roots from which it sprang. The same sex marriage is not demanded on account of any natural law rather developed human values towards relationship rights. Therefore allowing same sex marriage does not appear to encourage further demands of natural law of polygamy (in societies where it is not prevalent), IMO.
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      May 5 2013: I'm sure you're right that there will not be any great demand for a right to polygamous marriage in western countries. But in the U.S., we do have a number of persons who practice this form of marriage, although illegally. And it only takes one person to file a court case demanding his or her rights, to get the case labeled a constitutional issue that may go all the way to the Supreme Court. I wonder, after the various restrictions on who may marry whom have all fallen by the wayside, if the Court would not find that the restriction by number (two persons) is also untenable and must yield, thus allowing plural marriages. Of course, my question and our discussion of it is only an intellectual exercise, like most questions here, and "future history" will settle the question one way or the other. I still find it interesting to muse on.
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    Apr 26 2013: Well new to Ted conversations! I have been watching the talks for a really long time but relatively new to having an account. It definitely makes the site more interactive!
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    Apr 25 2013: Hello again,

    Everybody has the right to their own opinion and the right to discuss their opinions freely. As long as their opinion doesn't turn into action that may openly infringe on others' rights, that is. In this case it's only a discussion, although it does feel a bit like a frontal attack on my benign frontal lobe. I still do not see why you assume that I called you unwise or limited, I did not do that, I just typed in a little motto that I made for myself and yes, I do own-up to it, but I can re-word it to make it more precise and deny allegations of negativity: Let's be wise and loving of everybody regardless of their sexual orientation, background or opinions, it will pay off eventually. Thank you.
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    Apr 24 2013: Hmm. This topic made me think of a short but strong conversation I had with a taxi-driver the other day. He started the conversation by telling me about his wonderful children... And continued on by saying the following: "And now queers want to get married? And have kids? Think about those poor, confused kids!"
    My reaction was roughly the following: "Look, I do not care if you had one, two or a hundred parents and what sex they were and who they were as long as none of them hurt you in any way."
    The rest was silence.
    In my world-view, simplified for the sake of this topic, that was the truth underlying all mariages and social contracts, legislated or not, and my truth at that point was - the good of everyone involved. Why is marrying a car or a silicon doll viewed as intrinsically bad in some states when it's good for both the car/doll and the man and doesn't hurt anybody? Why is polygamy viewed as intrinsically evil when there are theories that a child is always brought up by the village or, in this day and age, a global village? It does seem to work for Charlie Sheen, his wives, goddesses and children too. Why is traditional mariage viewed as solution to all problems and heartsores in the West right now when it can sometimes lead to even more problems if communication and understanding between the spouses isn't there? This can lead to violence, abuse and hurt for everybody.
    We are complex beings and there are differences among us, differences in needs, behaviour, willpower and risks that we are willing to take or are capable of taking. And there is no 1+1=3, 1+3=6 or 2+"holy script"="whatever happens is god's will" remedy for that. Sometimes the supposed remedies may make the thing even worse.
    In sum - we're constantly evolving and learning more and more about ourselves and one another, let's use this knowledge in good faith, not only our own, personal fate and gain. Our knowledge is accumulating. Sadly, some of the lessons are forgotten or ignored.
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    Apr 24 2013: The number question is a completely different question, to ssm.
    Just as marrying different races, or religions is a different question to ssm.
    Each should be considered on its merits.
    It is wrong to link ssm to every other potential iteration of marriage. Its a fallacious slippery slope argument. Only ssm is the question at hand.

    Gays, minority races, slaves, women, retirees, whoever have a right to squeak all they want.

    The only argument i have heard that warrants consideration in my opinion is about whether same sex couples should have the right to adopt. If there is some harm to the child this should be considered. But this should be data based and compared to other allowable options for parenthood, adoption.

    If there is harm i would not be surprised if much of it comes from homophobia in society.
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      Apr 24 2013: Yes indeed, the "number question" is a different question. And each should be considered on its merits, as you say.
      But there are similarities, since they both deal with the definition of marriage, which is evidently in flux. When we raise the question, "does everyone have a natural right to marry whomever one loves and wishes to marry?" the most thoughtful answer is perhaps, "Let's talk about it." And that's what we're doing. In the past there have been marriage restrictions of race, social status, and religion. Those are pretty much gone now, and there remains only the sexual and number limitations. (I'm skipping the age limitation, which seems to have been settled, at least in western societies.)
      Those who have an interest in the ssm issue are right to want to have their question decided in isolation, but a lot of questionable law with unintended consequences has been passed by failing to take the full consequences of the law into consideration. Therefore the thrust of this debate is whether it is likely that ssm will lead to the successful pursuit of legal polygamy, and what the effect of that might be. If it is your opinion that one shouldn't discuss this question, that it's a "fallacious slippery slope," I must respectfully disagree.
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        Apr 25 2013: Hi paul. Thnx for taking the time to read and reply thoughtfully.

        I guess we just disagree that there may or not be a slippery slope. Ssm is a big change, but i personally don't see a real risk of it leading to changes in numbers or age.

        I guess in most western countries most people see a clear distinction between 2 people wanting their relationship recognised equally regardless of the sexes, and polygamous marriage. Traditional polygamy is actually in the opposite direction to equality.

        Anyway i suggest there is not the support for polygamous marriage in western countries as there is for ssm.

        Perhaps it may lead some to think about it, but it i haven't heard of any ground swell in states or countries that have gay marriage, and this aligns with my thoughts above.

        With respect i think this is a red herring argument, but no issue with it being raised and discussed.
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      Apr 25 2013: I agree with what you have written Obey, and it is a good idea to consider the children. There is more and more information presented, which indicates that children are much more likely to be adversly impacted by unloving opposite sex partners, than by loving same sex partners. Parents who are respectful, caring, and loving is the important peice.
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        Apr 25 2013: That is reassuring to hear colleen.
        I only have a sample of 3
        1 where a woman in committed ss relationship (prior to the recent legalisation of ssm) had a child,

        And 2 where women had kids in marriage prior to acknowledging their homosexuality and are now divorced in committed ss relationships.
        In all 3 the kids are loved by 2 to 4 people and seem healthy, and happy, and straight if anyone is concerned

        Perhaps ssm is not be the ideal, but neither is single parenthood or problematic hetero partnerships/ parenthood., divorce etc.
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          Apr 25 2013: It is indeed reassuring to know Obey:>) On the news recently, I saw several young people (high school/college age) speaking in support of same sex marriages, because they were raised with same sex partners who loved them, and wholeheartedly supported the kids life experiences.

          I have several friends (same sex partners) who have adopted kids and are VERY loving parents. I have friends who were previously in a hetero relationship/marriage, had kids, got divorced and raise the kids with a same sex partner.....also very loving people.

          There are several same sex partners who are foster parents for kids in state custody, who are very caring, kind and loving foster parents. The kids they care for were removed from their biological parents because of violence and abuse.

          To say that same sex partnerships/marriage is going to ruin the idea of marriage, or ruin the kids, is totally without evidence, and for people to even contemplate that, simply demonstrates lack of information.
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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 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.
  • May 6 2013: We live in a society that goes with laws, if everything world do what it wanted, there would be no society.
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    Apr 27 2013: I think there are two important anchors around which this debate should focus are:
    1. What is a natural law as far as two human beings of differing sex should have a union?
    2. What is a marriage?
    I'd like to ignore the 'traditional western marriage' as that would disqualify almost half of world population being interested in this debate.
    1. The natural law here is, IMO, a union primarily based on procreation and progression of gene-pool. Stripped of all decorations, this is an ancient social trait prevalent in many higher primates other than humans with varying lengths of time, sexual loyalty to the partner, increased participation in off spring rearing and rudimentary structures of a social family unit. The basis is purely biological and survival. I don't think there is a question of 'love' in this natural law. When required, this law can jolly well permit polygamy - normally a dominant male maintaining a harem of females but a whole bunch of males 'servicing' a queen female is also not unknown.
    2. Marriage is a comparatively recent idea when human society was well developed socially (about roughly 3000 years ago). It went through social experiments along the lines of biological and survival primacy with increasing amounts of inputs from emerging human values. In ancient India, for example, there had been many variations of marriages. (please don't get misled by the title Hindu Culture, because that's a popular misconception, rather read Indic Culture in its place). It is also believed that marriages within the same bloodlines were proven not 'genetically wise' and got weeded away. However, restrictions within same race, social ranks, skin color etc were examples of marriages with increasing social inputs as biological/survival primacy started to get sublimer.
    Interestingly, marriage remained just social (customary) to start with, then got religious and its legal definitions are quite recent.
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    Apr 25 2013: Hello friends.
    As host of this debate thread, I'm understandably interested in seeing some discussion of the issue I posed, so I'll give a gentle nudge back toward that.

    Certainly, one of the charms of TED conversations is that they tend to branch out to who-knows-what, just like face to face talks. That's both fun and useful, and I'm all for it. But not very many respondents have spent much time on the original question, so I'll restate it in a more straight-forward form:

    "With the various historical restrictions on marriage - such as race, religion, social caste, and now gender - falling or having fallen by the wayside, should we expect that the next restriction to fall (in the western world) will be that of number? That is, do individuals have a natural right to engage in plural marriage, such as is common in some societies?"

    A few respondents have answered the question with yes or no, but I'd love to see more rationale. I offered one line of argument for the right of plural marriage in the set-up, and I'm sure that others have good arguments for or against.

    Paul L.
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      Apr 26 2013: Individuals have the natural right to engage in whatever relationships they want and they do; societies are the ones that impose restrictions. By natural law gay people would have the right to form couples but natural selection would eliminate them from the gene pool since they would not have descendants (provided that they behave consistently with their sexual preference) Societies for intrinsic reason put restrictions on certain associations and they still do even though there is no written legislation to it; churches still don't marry people of different religions (I personally know a case of and orthodox and a Jewish that were turned down by both churches unless one agreed to convert to the other's religion) It's good that we have the separation of church and state even just for marriage. We never had a caste system in the west but for the most cases I am pretty sure people married within their social rank; plural marriages are common in male dominated societies where women have not obtained equal rights; I don't see a demand for these marriages in the western world unless some terrible wars will wipe out most males and women will have to share the existing ones ;)
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        Apr 29 2013: I agree that there won't be a great demand for polygamous marriage in the West, but I think there will be some demand. To me it will be interesting to see how courts and legislatures handle those demands.
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    Apr 25 2013: Your point is forceful when you speak of, ". . . a natural right to marry whom we love. . .". If that is truly a natural right, what happens when someone wants to marry their own family member, or their pet alligator, or the entire cheerleading squad? Logic demands that a system which honors all love as sufficient grounds for marriage cannot forbid ANY marriage so long as there is an expressed desire to marry the object of one's love. That is simple logic. Now, if someone argues the loved one must NOT be a member of the same sex; or an immediate family member; or of another species; or a pluality of persons; now we are abrogating that "natural right" by imposing regulations. Either society says anything goes or it says only certain things go. Which of these is the case in America?. . .
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      Apr 26 2013: Are you really sure, Ed, that the concept of "a natural right to marry whom we love" must include the right to marry a pet alligator? You're right that it's simple logic, but may that not be too simple? I would think that limiting marriage to human beings is not denying anyone their natural rights.
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        Apr 26 2013: I do not agree that "a natural right to marry" exists. I am arguing that IF it did exist then any social, or legal, restriction upon that right would not be just and reasonable. Such a natural right does not exist and I believe marriage is limited to the union of one human male and one human female. I agree with your words in the post: "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." I believe your logic applies to more than just bigamy. If I love my alligator/sister/mother/ and want to be joined to them in marriage society must not restrict my "natural right" to do so. If homosexual marriage is justified based upon some "natural right" why not bigamy, why not sanctified incest and bestiality?
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          Apr 26 2013: You are basing your argument under the assumption that Incest and beastiality is natural. It is NOT natural and is harmful. Incest leads to inbreeding and beastiality is cruel to the animals.
          Homosexual marriage however involves two consenting adults.
          So I think that Homosexuality and polygamy IS justified based on the natural right to marry but incest and beastiality isn't.
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    Apr 24 2013: II.

    Sadly, soem of the lessons are also misunderstood becuse of our old lack of real knowledge...

    Anyway - the driver's name was Maciej. He's ok :)

    Sorry for splitting my comment into 2, but 2000 characters is never enough for a hypergraphic individual as me :)

    To summarise all that - let's be wise and loving, not limited and self-loving.

    Thanks for the question, Paul!
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      Apr 24 2013: By your logic I am limited and self-loving if I oppose homosexual marriage. Does that apply to other issues? For example if I oppose the sex slave trade am I being limited and self-loving, after all there are those who have a deep desire to see the trade continue, what about their desires? At some point doesn't it come down to taking a position based upon your personal convictions about an issue? I do not oppose homosexual marriage because I am limited, or because I love myself. I oppose it because my personal conviction is that it is abnormal, unnatural behavior. You may disagree with my convictions, but you are not justified to say I am limited and self-loving just because we differ on this issue.
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        Apr 24 2013: Hi Edward,

        One can twist and turn whatever logic or words and find holes and loops in everything, but that's irrelevant, let me just thank you for finding those in mine and reply - I am not saying that anybody who opposes anything because of their convictions is autimatically limited and self-loving. Being self-loving is a positive thing, by the way, as long as it is not the only love one is capable of. If you oppose sex slave trade you are showing compassion for the slaves, the traders need first prosecution, then understanding and compassion. If you oppose gay marriage, who do you show compassion for? Your convictions are the expression of yourself and your upbringing and I never said anything negative about you or them or anyone who holds them, I said something else.
        Oh dear, I feel like an evangelist ;-)
        Cheers, Edward.
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          Apr 25 2013: And cheers to you too. Please explain how the following words of yours are not negative: QUOTE "To summarise all that - let's be wise and loving, not limited and self-loving." I am not taking liberty with your message, or altering its meaning, when I say you believe it to be unwise, unloving, limited, and self-loving to disagree with homosexual marriage. You must see that you did say something negative. Do you deny my right to oppose homosexual marriage? I agree that it is your right to believe anyone who disagrees with you on this issue is being unwise, unloving, and limited. I also believe you should own-up to the words you speak and defend them logically. Thank you!
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          Apr 25 2013: I agree Anna...some folks can twist and turn words to try to support their own argument. I also agree that "... convictions are the expression of yourself..."

          For what it is worth, I do not see anything negative in your comment Anna, and I agree with what you have written. I do not perceive that you have anything to "own-up to". Your words are clear and insightful.
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    Apr 24 2013: "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 outcome."
    Like any other personal contract, people can sign it with whomever they want, and wherever they want (lawyer, church...). Government legislation regarding marriage is out of place, unless to make sure that all parties signing it are doing do willingly and that the contract is fair (as they do to any contract: work, rent, banking and so on).