Next stop on the slippery marriage slope: polygamy.

Next stop on the slippery marriage slope: polygamy.


Friday, July 19, 2013

The following article was originally posted on Slate.com, and can be viewed here. As the author argues, the legalization of polygamy (along with other forms of “marriage”) is no longer a distant fear of social conservatives, but an impending reality that “marriage equality” advocates are actively pursuing.

Legalize Polygamy! No. I am not kidding.
By Jillian Keenan – Posted Monday, April 15, 2013, at 5:35 AM

Recently, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reintroduced a tired refrain: Legalized gay marriage could lead to other legal forms of marriage disaster, such as polygamy. Rick Santorum, Bill O’Reilly, and other social conservatives have made similar claims. It’s hardly a new prediction—we’ve been hearing it for years. Gay marriage is a slippery slope! A gateway drug! If we legalize it, then what’s next? Legalized polygamy?

We can only hope.

Yes, really. While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.

For decades, the prevailing logic has been that polygamy hurts women and children. That makes sense, since in contemporary American practice that is often the case. In many Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints polygamous communities, for example, women and underage girls are forced into polygamous unions against their will. Some boys, who represent the surplus of males, are brutally thrown out of their homes and driven into homelessness and poverty at very young ages. All of these stories are tragic, and the criminals involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (That goes without saying, I hope.)

But legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn’t legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat.

Right now, all polygamous families, including the healthy, responsible ones, are driven into hiding (notwithstanding the openly polygamous Brown family on TLC’s Sister Wives, that is). In the resulting isolation, crime and abuse can flourish unimpeded. Children in polygamous communities are taught to fear the police and are not likely to report an abusive neighbor if they suspect their own parents might be caught up in a subsequent criminal investigation. In a United States with legalized polygamy, responsible plural families could emerge from the shadows—making it easier for authorities to zero in on the criminals who remain there.

Many people argue that there is no such thing as a “healthy, responsible” polygamous family, particularly for the children born into one. “Children are harmed because they are often set in perennial rivalry with other children and mothers for the affection and attention of the family patriarch,” argued John Witte Jr. in the Washington Post. “Men with lots of children and wives are spread too thin,” agreed Libby Copeland in Slate. The earnestness of these arguments is touching but idealistic. Men in monogamous marriages can’t be spread too thin? Children in monogamous families don’t rival each other for the attentions of their parents? Two-parent families are not the reality for millions of American children. Divorce, remarriage, surrogate parents, extended relatives, and other diverse family arrangements mean families already come in all sizes—why not recognize that legally?

It’s also hard to argue with the constitutional freedom of religious expression that legalized polygamy would preserve. Most polygamous families are motivated by religious faith, such as fundamentalist Mormonism or Islam, and as long as all parties involved are adults, legally able to sign marriage contracts, there is no constitutional reason why they shouldn’t be able to express that faith in their marriages. Legalized polygamous marriage would also be good for immigrant families, some of whom have legally polygamous marriages in their home countries that get ripped apart during the immigration process. (It’s impossible to estimate exactly how many polygamous families live here, since they live their religious and sexual identities in secret. Academics suggest there are 50,000 to 100,000 people engaged in Muslim polygamy in the U.S., and there are thousands of fundamentalist Mormon polygamist families as well.)

Finally, prohibiting polygamy on “feminist” grounds—that these marriages are inherently degrading to the women involved—is misguided. The case for polygamy is, in fact, a feminist one and shows women the respect we deserve. Here’s the thing: As women, we really can make our own choices. We just might choose things people don’t like. If a woman wants to marry a man, that’s great. If she wants to marry another woman, that’s great too. If she wants to marry a hipster, well—I suppose that’s the price of freedom.

And if she wants to marry a man with three other wives, that’s her damn choice.

We have a tendency to dismiss or marginalize people we don’t understand. We see women in polygamous marriages and assume they are victims. “They grew up in an unhealthy environment,” we say. “They didn’t really choose polygamy; they were just born into it.” Without question, that is sometimes true. But it’s also true of many (too many) monogamous marriages. Plenty of women, polygamous or otherwise, are born into unhealthy environments that they repeat later in life. There’s no difference. All marriages deserve access to the support and resources they need to build happy, healthy lives, regardless of how many partners are involved. Arguments about whether a woman’s consensual sexual and romantic choices are “healthy” should have no bearing on the legal process. And while polygamy remains illegal, women who choose this lifestyle don’t have access to the protections and benefits that legal marriage provides.

As a feminist, it’s easy and intuitive to support women who choose education, independence, and careers. It’s not as intuitive to support women who choose values and lifestyles that seem outdated or even sexist, but those women deserve our respect just as much as any others. It’s condescending, not supportive, to minimize them as mere “victims” without considering the possibility that some of them have simply made a different choice.

The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less “correct” than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. Though polygamists are a minority—a tiny minority, in fact—freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized groups among us. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States—and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet.

Same-Sex Marriage: We’re Playing Chess, Not Checkers

Same-Sex Marriage: We’re Playing Chess, Not Checkers


Saturday, April 06, 2013

gayagainstgaymarriage

by Doug Mainwaringgayagainstgaymarriage

This article was originally posted on ThePublicDiscourse.com. It can be viewed at http://www.thepublicdiscourse. com/2013/03/9622/

In our sometimes misguided efforts to expand our freedom, selfish adults have systematically dismantled that which is most precious to children as they grow and develop. That’s why I am now speaking out against same-sex marriage.

By the way, I am gay.

A few days ago I testified against pending same-sex marriage legislation in Minnesota’s Senate Judiciary and House Civil Law Committees.

The atmosphere at these events (I’ve also testified elsewhere) seems tinged with unreality—almost a carnival-like surrealism. Natural law, tradition, religion, intellectual curiosity, and free inquiry no longer play a role in deliberations. Same-sex marriage legislation is defended solely on grounds of moral relativism and emotions. Pure sophistry is pitted against reason. Reason is losing.

Here’s the problem: The national discussion of same-sex marriage treats the issue like a game of checkers, where opponents can quickly gain each other’s pieces without much forethought about the consequences. This unreflective view of the discussion has prevented any real debate.

In years past, defenders of marriage found it easy to win the battle on the checker board. Appeals to religion and tradition won hands down almost effortlessly. While same-sex marriage advocates argued for a more thoughtful consideration of the topic, they were mostly just bulldozed over.

The tide has turned. Same-sex marriage proponents now have all the “kings” on the board, and rule it. One only needs to consider media headlines from the last few weeks. We are bombarded with approvals of same-sex marriage. To the casual onlooker, not steeped in this issue, it would seem that conservatism has embraced same-sex marriage. Each day brings fresh news of Republican political elites, Fortune 500 companies, NFL members, and even Dirty Harry himself, Clint Eastwood, throwing their support behind genderless marriage.

The game we are actually playing is chess, not checkers. This sounds confusing, because chess and checkers are played on the exact same sixty-four square game board. Checkers is easy and it’s fast. It’s one of the first games children learn how to play. Chess is hard, requiring thought about the intended and unintentional consequences of every single move that may or may not be made.

In developing their goals for policy and law, politicians often look no further than the next election cycle. They’re concerned about votes. Supporting same-sex marriage now looks like a winner for them.

It also looks like a winner for media outlets, concerned about revenues and readership, and for large corporations, eager to polish their images and create goodwill. Few of these outlets are interested in playing chess because a quick win at checkers is more important to them.

The sense of urgency regarding same-sex marriage, now palpably frenetic, is in itself a sign of our national discussion’s devolution into nothing more than slogans and emotions.

Our nation’s individual state legislatures and courts—including the Supreme Court— need to apply the brakes. Now.

As in chess, the unintended consequences deserve sound consideration.

Genderless marriage now enjoys an aura of equality and fairness, which suggests that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment had same-sex marriages in mind as they penned their magnificent giant leap forward for humanity. While this situation is highly unlikely, those who selfishly seek additional “rights” for themselves have found their justification in the penumbra they now sense surrounding legitimate civil rights.

Same-sex marriage will not expand rights and freedoms in our nation. It will not redefine marriage. It will undefine it.

This isn’t the first time our society has undefined marriage. No-fault divorce, instituted all across our country, sounded like a good idea at the time. Its unintended consequence was that it changed forever the definition of marriage from a permanent relationship between spouses to a temporary one. Sadly, children became collateral damage in the selfish pursuits of adults.

Same-sex marriage will do the same, depriving children of their right to either a mom or a dad. This is not a small deal. Children are being reduced to chattel-like sources of fulfillment. On one side, their family tree consists not of ancestors, but of a small army of anonymous surrogates, donors, and attorneys who pinch-hit for the absent gender in genderless marriages. Gays and lesbians demand that they have a “right” to have children to complete their sense of personal fulfillment, and in so doing, are trumping the right that children have to both a mother and a father—a right that same-sex marriage tramples over.

Same-sex marriage will undefine marriage and unravel it, and in so doing, it will undefine children. It will ultimately lead to undefining humanity. This is neither “progressive” nor “conservative” legislation. It is “regressive” legislation.

Nowhere on any marriage license application in any state are the applicants asked, “Do you love each other?” Yet this is the basis on which same-sex marriage proponents seek to change our laws. Is the state really in the business of celebrating our romantic lives?

The mantra I heard repeatedly in Minnesota was that “marriage is about love, commitment, and responsibility.” But these three things are not the state’s interests in marriage. Marriage, from the state’s perspective, is about kids. Period. That’s the reason the institution exists. We should tremble at and fear the notion of undoing it.

For a nation that has no trouble selfishly creating a seventeen-trillion-dollar (and growing) deficit it will soon hand off to its children and grandchildren, perhaps this is asking too much. But for the sake of all children and those yet to be born, we need to slow down and seriously consider the unintended consequences of underlining marriage. Otherwise, we risk treating our progeny as expendable pawns, sacrificed in the name of self-fulfillment. We can do better than that.

Same-Sex Marriage Flounders: Few Homosexuals Interested in Tying the Knot

Same-Sex Marriage Flounders: Few Homosexuals Interested in Tying the Knot


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This article was originally posted on Zenit.org and can be viewed at http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/same-sex-marriage-flounders

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, JUNE 24, 2006 (Zenit.org)– After the clamor to legalize same-sex marriage, it turns out that not many homosexuals really want it. Following a bitter battle last year, the Spanish government gave homosexuals the right to marry. Since the law took effect last July 3, until May 31, only 1,275 same-sex marriages took place, reported the Madrid daily newspaper ABC last Saturday.

Comparatively, that would add up to a mere 0.6% of the 209,125 marriages contracted in Spain during 2005. Of the total number of same-sex marriages, 923 were between males and 352 among females.

A recent study by the Virginia-based Institute for Marriage and Public Policy did a roundup of same-sex marriage trends. The study, “Demand for Same-Sex Marriage: Evidence from the United States, Canada and Europe,” was published April 26.

So far the highest estimate of the proportion of homosexuals who have used the new laws to marry is in the American state of Massachusetts, with 16.7% tying the knot. But this seems to be an exception. In the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been established the longest, the percentage was far lower.

The authors of the study, Maggie Gallagher and Joshua Baker, warn that it is often difficult to obtain precise data, either on the number of same-sex marriages, or on the number of homosexuals in a given geographical area.

The Dutch experience

In April 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legally recognize marriages between two people of the same sex. From this date till the end of last year, 8,127 same-sex couples married in the Netherlands. Dutch survey data suggest that 2.8% of Dutch men and 1.4% of Dutch women are homosexuals. Assuming all same-sex partners who wedded in the Netherlands were residents, roughly 6.3% of homosexuals married by year-end 2005. The percentage, both here and in the following countries, includes all who were ever married, not necessarily the number of current marriages.

Belgium, in June 2003, followed the Netherlands. During the rest of that year, 1,708 same-sex couples married in Belgium. By year-end 2004 this increased to 2,204 couples. The authors did not find official estimates of the numbers of homosexuals in Belgium. If it were the same percentage as in the Netherlands, then roughly 4.7% of Belgian homosexuals had married by year-end 2004.

In Canada, the Ontario Court of Appeals led the way for same-sex marriages in June 2003. Eventually, courts in various provinces followed suit. Same-sex marriage was legalized at the national level last summer.

The law allows couples to marry without either of them being resident in Canada. After checking newspaper reports and contacting statistics offices, Gallagher and Baker confirmed that many of the same-sex marriages are between non-Canadian couples, mostly from the United States.

Gallagher and Baker were able to obtain data on same-sex marriage from nine of Canada’s 13 provinces. In British Columbia, 2,531 same-sex marriages were contracted from July 2003 through year-end 2005. In Quebec, same-sex marriages have been available since March 2004. Between then and last September, 574 homosexual couples married.

The Canadian Community Health Survey conducted by Statistics Canada first asked about sexual orientation in 2003. This resulted in 1.3% of men and 0.7% of women aged 18 to 59 identifying themselves as homosexuals. Of the seven provinces that have had same-sex marriage for at least one year, between 0.15% and 14% of Canadian homosexuals entered such marriages.

South of the border, in Massachusetts, same-sex marriage was introduced on May 17, 2004. That year, 5,994 same-sex couples married. Recent official data indicate that an additional 1,347 same-sex couples married in Massachusetts last year, for a total of 7,341 such unions between May 2004 and December 2005.

According to the study, there are not reliable estimates of the homosexual population in Massachusetts. Assuming the proportion is the same as the national average (2.3% of men and 1.3% of women), and assuming all the marriages are between local residents, 16.7% of homosexuals entered into same-sex marriages.

The future

Information from newspaper reports and data collected by Gallagher and Baker suggest that the number of same-sex marriages, after an initial burst, appears to be decreasing with each passing year.

This is clearest in the Netherlands. In 2001, from April to December, 2,414 couples entered into same-sex marriages. In 2002, the number of new same-sex marriages dropped to 1,838. By 2003 this decreased to 1,499. In 2004 there was a further fall, to 1,210. Recently released statistics put the number for 2005 at 1,166 couples.

The data contained in Gallagher and Baker’s study was supported by Hudson Institute fellow Stanley Kurtz. Writing on June 5 in National Review Online, he argued that statistics from Northern Europe confirm the trend to low levels of same-sex unions.

Kurtz drew his information from a new study by a pair of Scandinavian demographers, Gunnar Andersson and Turid Noack: “The Demographics of Same-Sex Marriages in Norway and Sweden.”

Scandinavian countries have had legally recognized same-sex unions for many years, and for all intents and purposes there is little to distinguish them from marriage. In Norway, from 1993 through 2001, only 1,293 same-sex partnerships were contracted, compared with 196,000 heterosexual marriages. In Sweden, 1,526 same-sex partnerships registered between 1995 and 2002, compared with 280,000 heterosexual marriages.

Papal defense

Meanwhile, Benedict XVI continues to defend the value of marriage between a man and woman as a vital social institution. On May 20, in his speech welcoming Spain’s new ambassador to the Holy See, the Pope stated: “The Church proclaims wholeheartedly the fundamental right to life from conception to its natural end, the right to be born, to form and to live in a family, and not to let the family be supplanted by other institutions or different forms.”

He added that during his July visit to the World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain, he is looking forward to being able to “celebrate the beauty and fruitfulness of the family founded on marriage, its exalted vocation and indispensable social value.”

Just two days earlier, in his speech to Australia’s new ambassador, the Pontiff noted that many young people are realizing “that it is the transcendent order that steers all life along the path of authentic freedom and happiness.”

This respect for a transcendent order, he continued, enables Australians to recognize the fundamental importance of marriage and stable domestic life at the heart of society. “They appreciate that pseudo-forms of ‘marriage’ distort the Creator’s design and undermine the truth of our human nature.”

Shortly afterward, Australia’s national government overruled an attempt by local authorities in the Australian Capital Territory, the relatively small area where Canberra is located, to introduce same-sex marriage, under the guise of civil unions.

The federal Cabinet decided to invalidate the new law introduced in mid-May, the Age newspaper reported June 7. Prime Minister John Howard branded the law “a plain attempt to equate civil unions with marriage — and we don’t agree with that.” The federal Parliament voted in 2004 to explicitly define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The numbers elsewhere indicate that traditional marriage remains far more popular too.
(June 24, 2006) © Innovative Media Inc.