Polygamy: The New Black
where are we going? why are we in this handbasket?
By streiff Posted in Culture — Comments (299) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
On Monday and Tuesday of this week the Washington Post ran sympathetic stories on how defenders of the practices of concubinage and polygamy are bootstrapping their own cause into the issue of same sex marriage.
For those who have ridiculed us traditionalists whenever we raise the usually disreputable “slippery slope” argument in the defense of marriage as understood by most cultures over several millennia these articles should serve as evidence that we are not exaggerating. When viewed through the mawkishly distorted prism of the arguments proffered by proponents of homosexual marriage their particular cases are compelling and if we accept the idea of marriage as some amorphous “human right” they are irrefutable.
In the first case, advocates of gay marriage were able to defeat an Arizona initiative defending marriage by highlighting how that initiative would affect heterosexuals who are shacking up. The literal poster children were a 79 year-old retired mechanic and 75-year old retired bank teller who, presumably, would be deprived of some way of caring for themselves or their thirty grand children and great-grandchildren if the initiative passed. We don’t really know why these septuagenarians have a sudden need to have society recognize a relationship that is usually referred to a “shacking up” when they could remedy their problem with a quick cab ride to a justice of the peace. But supposedly their story was compelling enough that sufficient voters lacking second order reasoning skills were influenced to vote against marriage and presumably the onset of a vicious theocracy based on their sad story.
In the second case, practitioners of polygamy are raising gay marriage as an example of why their own living arrangement should also be legally recognized.
In her battle to legalize polygamy, the only thing Valerie hasn't revealed is her last name. The mother of eight has been on national TV; her photo along with that of her two "sister-wives" has graced the front cover of a glossy magazine dedicated to "today's plural marriages."
Valerie and others among the estimated 40,000 men, women and children in polygamous communities are part of a new movement to decriminalize bigamy. Consciously taking tactics from the gay-rights movement, polygamists have reframed their struggle, choosing in interviews to de-emphasize their religious beliefs and focus on their desire to live "in freedom," according to Anne Wilde, director of community relations for Principle Voices, a pro-polygamy group based in Salt Lake.
Up front I will say that I am much more sympathetic to the cause of polygamy and its flip side, polyandry, than I am to homosexual marriage or to legal recognition of shack jobs. While I must confess to remaining mystified at the attraction of polyandry for those outside the adult movie business, polygamy has deep historical roots and presents some cheap solutions to problems near and dear to liberals, like, for instance, making affordable childcare available to all. In fact, other than it being illegal by fiat I really, truly have no objection to the practice whatsoever.
If as a society we decide marriage is a right, as some claim, and not subject to regulation by the state then polygamy needs to be recognized at least concurrently with homosexual marriage.