Marriage

Stop Referring to Gay Marriage as 'Marriage Equality'

How can one argue that gay marriage is OK but polygamy is not?

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girlontheles/Flickr

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected gay marriage appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin, in essence allowing lower courts to legalize same-sex couples. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an institution that has vigorously opposed gay marriage for some time now, conceded that the political battle over marriage is over. "As far as the civil law is concerned," the Mormon church admitted, "the courts have spoken."

Actually, nothing is over until God says it's over. At least, this is my understanding of how religion operates. So though I don't want to accuse Mormons of being a bunch of serial quitters, let's just say this isn't the first time they've folded in the face of adversity. Luckily, every time a door closes…

Obviously, polygamy, once practiced by early church members, has long since been renounced by the Latter-day Saints. In the late 19th century, after decades of religious persecution and pressure from the U.S. government, Mormons dropped the practice (although some obstinate fundamentalist groups persist). The LDS church is probably the last group willing to bring up plural marriage, but now would be the time to right some historical wrongs.

The would-be polygamist needs only to use the arguments of an advocate of same-sex marriage: What kind of moral claim, for instance, does anyone have to stand in the way of peaceful, consenting adults who call their union a marriage? Shouldn't all minorities, no matter how beleaguered, be able to enjoy happiness with the one—or ones—they love? In a perfect nation, wouldn't all Americans be immune from the cultural and religious prejudices of others? Isn't it a tad judgmental for us to force every household to comport to our own stifling definition of family?

After all, how does another person's connubial situation undermine your marriage or corrode the institution anyway? Have you seen the divorce rate?! Straight people have already ruined the institution. And we want in.

Personally, I don't have any misgivings about same-sex marriage, mostly because I don't believe that it destabilizes society or family—although I suspect that it will offer gay Americans far more stability. The policy debate is about over anyway. These days, we should be more troubled by the persistent need to coerce and demean those who hold religious objections to gay unions into compliance. And if I were, say, a practicing Catholic, I could never accept that the sacrament of marriage could be redefined by judges, democracy, or anyone other than the Big Guy. This is not homophobic, nor does it undermine your happiness. In my libertarian utopia, people are free to enter into voluntary arrangements, and others are free to believe that the participants of these arrangements will suffer eternal damnation.

The polygamy argument offends many advocates of same-sex marriage, who view it as an unfair and unnecessary distraction. But I'm not offering Rick Santorum-style slippery slope arguments here. I don't believe polygamy will be legalized. My sense is that the vast majority of Americans have little interest in entering into a menage a trois (well, in its literal meaning, "a household of three," at least). Rather, I'm asking: On what logical grounds can a person argue that gay marriage is OK but polygamy—or any other type of marriage—is not? If your answer is an arbitrary declaration—such as, "The ideal union is between only two individuals"—then all you've done is redefine the parameters of marriage. You support gay marriage, not "marriage equality."

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  1. The logic is judges like gays and don’t like polygamists. It is really that simple and that crude.

  2. What do logical grounds have to do with the court system?
    The “people” have spoken and the gayz are not icky, but polies are. Got it?

  3. I support marriage equality. Any number of consenting adults can enter into a marriage with any other consenting adults. Government doesn’t need to be involved.

    1. Yes, what difference does it make? None of my damned business.

    2. So you’re referring to a single “marriage” of any number of persons, rather than a number of marriages a person has going at a time? Polygamy is hardly ever construed as a single marriage of 3 or more, practically always as somebody’s marrying a plurality of spouses at different but overlapping times.

  4. How can one argue that gay marriage is OK but polygamy is not?

    Easy. ‘Marriage equality EQUALITY’ is absurd.

    Unless, of course, we ease into it with *gay* polygamous marriage.

    1. Chief Justice: Also, in a rare double-whammy decision, the court finds polygamy constitutional.
      Audience: BOOOOO!
      Waterfall: I can’t wait to tell my husband!

    2. Obviously, the country will remain a hellhole of oppression until gay polyandry is not only legal but celebrated.

      Forget about just being celbrated, it should be mandatory.

  5. Yeah, I’ve never liked the expression “marriage equality.”

    Which of the main Reason writers uses it the most, I wonder? The Jacket?

    Also, what does the picture have to do with the article?

  6. …all you’ve done is redefine the parameters of marriage.

    Exactly. People talked as if no one had a right to draw a line, but it turns out they really just wanted the line drawn a little further in one direction.

    In addition to bans on polygamy, siblings and first cousins are not allowed to marry in many states.

    1. And the alleged “fundamental human right to marry the one you love” is not recognized if the love object is under age, or already married.

    2. In addition to bans on polygamy, siblings and first cousins are not allowed to marry in many states.

      and that will be the third rail. For a few centuries, most of the world has seen marriage as the union of two people of opposite who are unrelated. The middle part is a dead letter, the first part is being challenged, and that leaves the third aspect.

      1. . . . union of two people of opposite who are unrelated.

        Yeah, unless you happened to be royalty or had a large business empire that you wanted to keep in the family.

        Intermarriage between closely related people has a long and, uh, *noble* history throughout Europe.

        1. And even for the low born people, marriage of first cousins hasn’t consistently been a big taboo.

  7. I got no problem with polygamy as long as all of the participants are willing adults.

    Ideally I’d have government out of the whole affair. That’s really the only way to have marriage equality: no marriage gets special legal treatment or acknowledgement. But that is going to happen some time after heroin is legalized and sold at 7-11.
    Next best is for government just to recognize the relationships that actually exist among consenting adults and not try to define which ones get special treatment.
    I think it is a fact that for most people, pairing off into two person relationships is what works best. And that is a good reason why government shouldn’t worry about polygamy or other alternative arrangements. Not that many people are even interested in such arrangements and many who try them discover that they are very difficult to manage.

    1. If you consider divorce and single rates, not sure that is true.

      1. Yeah. I was mostly thinking of people who manage to find satisfying relationships. So, if they are going to have a serious long term relationship, coupling works best for most people.

        As far as singledom goes, how many officially single people are in a relationship that is somewhat close to marriage? I don’t really know at all.

  8. If you believe gay marriage is wrong, then don’t associate with it. If you believe it is ok, then do! If people are gay by choice then provide the proof. If people are gay naturally, then provide proof. None? Then the arguments based on facts are done. In my opinion, there will be both and many more to come, and if you are against any one of them…then either don’t associate with those people, or work toward proving your point, but stop trying to force others to accept your opinion. Freedom is your right to do what you want as long as you don’t harm others and this is meant for everyone, not one side or the other. You don’t like a baker who won’t serve a gay wedding, don’t use the service…don’t force them to shut down by govt decree! And if you don’t agree with a service of a gay marriage, don’t go! just my opinion.

    1. And if you don’t like the public accommodation parts of civil rights laws, fight against those laws, not gay marriage.

      1. Thissity this.

      2. Why not fight against state marriage licensing?

        1. OMG-what if we did BOTH?

          1. Wait, we can do both?

            1. Embrace the power of “and.”

              (That was popular a few years ago in some poly circles I frequent)

          2. OMG-what if we did BOTH?

            Because you’ll be considered a crackpot and anything you say will be twisted into you being portrayed as a bigot who things that two men shouldn’t get married because God and sanctity of marriage.

            Hell, it’s not even the LAW which is the problem, it’s public policy, something that’s FAR more difficult to repeal or even reform.

        2. Sure. But I think that public accommodation laws applied to private businesses are the greater evil.

          1. They are, because they eventually lead to further rent-seeking. Which, I know, I know, that’s the point.

            He who is the Giver of Favors is very powerful, indeed.

  9. If 3 or more folks are going to be able to get married, then I demand the right to marry myself.

    1. I think you are born married to yourself.

    2. Welcome to a whole new set of tax tables!

      1. I will marry myself infinite times until my tax refund is infinite.

        Same goes for poly.

    3. I don’t think I’m the right man for me.

      1. You’re a lesbian.

        1. Do I get my own bathroom?

    4. Can we rename bankruptcy self-divorce?

      1. There’s a certain genius in this comment.

  10. Rather, I’m asking: On what logical grounds can a person argue that gay marriage is OK but polygamy?or any other type of marriage?is not?

    I like to turn the question around and ask: On what logical grounds can a person argue that marriage should be kept to its “traditional” or “Biblical” meaning, but excluding polygamy? No one has yet given me an answer that doesn’t involve either doing a 180 on that person’s own logic or lying about what the Bible says.

    Fun fact: According to the Bible, God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, actually claims the credit for at least part of David’s harem. This is 2 Samuel 12:8 in the KJV; in a Catholic bible, the versification may be different.

  11. Okay. Lets legalize polygamy.

  12. I asked a liberal once on Fark why gay marriage was OK but polygamy wasn’t. He said that gay marriage still has two people, which is easy for the government when it comes to taxes, but polygamy would make the tax structure too difficult for the government to handle.

    Basically their belief was that rights exist only as long as its convenient for the government to grant them. This was like 5 years ago but I still remember it.

    1. As lame as that answer is, at least Fark Liberal gave one. Sometimes liberals will refuse even to attempt an actual answer, and instead reply with “Ewwww, how can you compare the two? Polygamy is gross!”

      Still, not knowing anything else about Fark Liberal, I bet he would abandon that taxation argument in a hurry if the Democratic Party platform and most of his favorite celebrities started supporting polygamy.

    2. polygamy would make the tax structure too difficult for the government to handle

      ROTFL
      As opposed to the ACA? The tax structure is too difficult because the government wrote it that way.

    3. In a two-person marriage each partner gets an equal say in the makeup and duration of the arrangement. If three people are married, what if partner 1 wants partner 2 to leave, but partner 3 wants her to stay?

      1. That sounds like a problem that should be solved by the individuals, and not the government.

        1. Unless there are questions about who’s entitled to children and property.

          1. those questions already exist within traditional marriage when one spouse wants out but the other does not. Contract law was meant to resolve contractual disputes, not decide which consenting adults can enter into a contract.

          2. CONTRACT FUCKING LAW!

            Marriage is a contract, all that shit you’re talking about is already included in the standard marriage contract – its just not on that little piece of paper you sign but hidden in 50 bajillion volumes of legal code.

            For fucks sake man – people can negotiate the merger of multibillion dollar corporations. I think we can handle the complications from a three person marriage without the government having to put out a one-size-fits-all contract.

          3. Unless there are questions about who’s entitled to children and property.

            As has been said, contract law applies. As far as children go, I think it is logical to assume that custody would remain between the biological parents.

      2. Democracy!

      3. If three people are married, what if partner 1 wants partner 2 to leave, but partner 3 wants her to stay?

        and why is this a matter for the state to consider?

        1. Because it lands in court.

      4. So you got yours, now fuck everyone else, eh?

        1. Polygamists are welcome to take their case to court. Gay people shouldn’t have to make their case for them.

          1. Or be logically consistent,or give a damn about peoples rights, or …

            1. I’m sure your concern for polygamists’ rights comes from a place of pure passion for equality and not some cynical bullshit excuse for bigotry.

              Polygamy is a behavior. Gay people are people. This is not about introducing new forms of marriage for the sake of diversity, it’s about constitutionally guaranteed equal rights. The gov’t has to treat gay people the same way it treats straight people. Polygamy is completely irrelevant. Polygamists wouldn’t, thus, have an argument on discrimination for an innate characteristic. But they might theoretically have a case based on religious discrimination, but that is subject to more restrictions. Government is not likely to allow women to be coerced into rape cults no matter how sincere the religious belief.

              1. Go fuck yourself Tony, most everyone here supports both because they believe in being principled and logically consistent. Unlike you who has shown yet again what a vile human being you are.

                1. I haven’t done a count but it seems like most people here has a real problem just saying that gays should have the same rights as straights in the context of the real world. There’s absolutely no reason polygamy should be part of this discussion.

              2. What does “innate characteristic” mean, and what’s the innate characteristic involved here?

                1. Sexual orientation.

          2. I don’t think anyone is asking them to.

            Just asking you to not be a total fucking hypocrite for once.

      5. If three people are married, what if partner 1 wants partner 2 to leave, but partner 3 wants her to stay?

        Hmm, 2 person marriage – it the drink or me. Its the motorcycle or me. Its that hussy or me. Its the job or me.

        Sounds like that would work just fine in a three person relationship – get rid of #2 or I walk.

      6. I would say all decisions must be unanimous. If partner 3 won’t change his/her mind, the partner 1 has a decision to make about whether he/she wants to stay.
        Partner 1 can always walk.

        Also, all partners must agree to add any additional partner.

      7. Why do you hate polygamists?

    4. And your “liberal” friend is actually quite astute.

      He implicitly admits there is no moral argument against it, except the Gordian knot of pension benefits, tax considerations and other public policy goodies available to the legally married.

      think of it, for a moment.

      Police officer douchebag is killed when he crashes his cruiser while on the job because he’s forwarding jokes to his fellow deputies on patrol.

      Officer Douchebag’s wife gets a pension for life, merely because of her marriage status.

      How would that be handled if he were married to five women?

      Honestly, if it were me, I’d say take the pension and divide it between the five. I’m guessing someone wouldn’t be happy with that.

      1. That’s why all four first wives must agree to marry the fifth. They have to know that they are agreeing to dividing of the husbands property and pensions, and agree to it before they marry another partner.

    5. Remember, the state is never required to do the right thing if it’s hard.

  13. Even more broadly,

    Why is sexual intercourse a requirement for marriage?

    Even further, can a person marry an organization?

    1. Even further, can a person marry an organization?

      Yes.

      1. I was actually thinking of catholic nuns marrying the church or whatever.

        Why can some green freek marry greenpiece or the sierra fund?

        For that matter, why not let a person marry a coporation that they set up – effecting auto-marriage.

        1. Do they get the legal protections that come with marrying Christ? No license, no marriage, seems to be the thing.

          1. Well sure, the government is less liberal than the catholic church in this particular instance.

            1. In the first part of the ceremony where the future nuns take their vows, they even wear wedding dresses. Or used to. They also have wedding rings. But they are referred to as “brides of Christ” not the Church. So technically, Jesus has a harem.

        2. Don’t confuse ‘church marriage’ with ‘state marriage’.

          State marriage is what we’re concerned with here and as far as the state is concerned, those nuns aren’t married.

    2. Why is sexual intercourse a requirement for marriage?

      It’s not. Clearly, you’ve never been married.

      Boom, I’m here all fall.

    3. Is sexual intercourse a requirement for marriage?

      1. Yep, people get prosecuted for taking benefits related to ‘fraudulent marriages’ every year.

  14. I have been married nearly 10 years now, but did not get married because I was in love. My wife and I were together for 10 years prior to our marriage because we were in love. We married for health insurance.

    I enter into agreements with whomever I choose on the grounds that I choose. The only reason I ever do anything the govt wants is to game it to get what I want. Fuck them.

    Government should get out of the marriage business.

    1. I’m in the same situation (but only married for 3 or 4 years). I was annoyed at my wedding, then I went to work to give the form to the stupid HR bitch. What really pissed me off was that if I had been in a gay relationship, they wouldn’t have made me get married to get insurance (even though I could have in my state).

      1. they wouldn’t have made me get married to get insurance (even though I could have in my state).

        Are you sure? Does your state not just have a generic “domestic partner” law? I don’t know of any state that has anything which explicitly singled out gay couples.

        1. Pretty sure. I spent a long time arguing with them about it. The company headquarters is in CA, where the domestic partner is weird and only seems to apply to old people, and NH, where I am has no law on the subject.

          I think it comes down to federal tax policy, plus some PC support for gay rights. They don’t have to pay tax on benefits for a spouse or children, but do for other kinds of domestic partners. Benefits for gay partners is more of the “industry norm”, so they do that. It was also before DOMA was struck down, so for federal taxes gay marriages didn’t count.

    2. Government should get out of the marriage business.

      1st you’d have to establish what the “business” is.

      Marriage preexisted such human institutions as gov’t & religion. It made sense for those institutions, and persons & businesses generally, to accommodate the already-existing institution of marriage. To do that, they need to determine who is married, and to whom, just as a child care biz needs to determine whose child is whose. To make that determination, they need to account for custom & facts. Does it appear that person X meets the customary meaning of “spouse”?

    3. I remember, when i was in the Marines, a group of enlisted Marines got court martialed for getting married just so they could collect BAH and move out of the barracks. Apparently, it was 2 gay guys and 2 lesbians. both married each other’s significant other and then pooled their BAH benefits to afford a house out in town. All ended up in jail for marriage fraud.

  15. Would the same standards apply to adult incest?

    1. Sure, why not? Inbreeding is bad, but so few people want to do it that I don’t think there is a compelling governmental or societal interest in prohibiting it.

      1. Inbreeding?

        They don’t put you in jail for being pregnant with your relative’s baby, and force you to have an abortion.

        Or are we saying only married people do it? 🙂

  16. So can I marry my sister or not? Someone lend me a hand here?

  17. I always say, I won’t take this nonsense as long as my polygamous friends are treated as SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS.

    Oh, and “polygamy” is not a synonym for “polygyny”, something consequentialists keep basing their arguments on. If *I* know living, breathing polyandrists (who seemed unimpressed by arguments that they don’t exist), how many are there I DON’T know about?

  18. I can’t wait for the day the government, after discovering that it opened a pandora’s box by legalizing gay marriage, finally leaves the marriage business altogether.

    The larger question the proponents the “marriage equality” proponents ignore is, “does the government have the obligation to recognize any and every form of union as a marriage”.

    You can’t marry someone for tax or immigration purposes? That sounds like discrimination to me. Who says marriage has to be based on love or commitment? And the concept of monogamy? That can be redefined too. Open marriages are constitutional, right?

    You can’t marry your dog because the dog didn’t give consent? Gee, that’s funny, since you didn’t obtain the dog’s consent to own him or feed him dog food of his choice.

    Personally, if a state defines a marriage as a union between two people (homo and hetero) and grants civil unions to polygamists and animal lovers, I’ll be down with that. But if we’re being consistent, they should be all given marriage licenses and Michael Jackson-esque folks can bleach their skin white as snow and not get raped by leftists on twitter.

    1. I can’t wait for the day the government, after discovering that it opened a pandora’s box by legalizing gay marriage, finally leaves the marriage business altogether.

      Fat chance. The answer to the bad consequences of stupid legislation is always more stupid legislation.

    2. I think the animal bit goes a bit far. Not for any moral or aesthetic reasons. Just that animals can’t generally enter into any kind of contract or own property. The fact that is it generally considered normal and moral for you to keep a dog without its explicit consent pretty well shows that a civil union with your dog is both unnecessary and silly. I suppose if it kept legislators from making more harmful laws I wouldn’t complain too much, though.

  19. Can someone explain how privatizing marriage would be the smaller-government solution? Instead of having a uniform and relatively simple process, we’d have each couple hiring lawyers to draw up specific contracts. Certainly there’d have to be more government bureaucracy involved rather than less. That is, an important state interest in marriage is to streamline a common form of contracting–actually to minimize the amount of government meddling necessary.

    This is if we’re pretending that most arguments for privatizing marriage aren’t entirely about solving the gay problem.

    1. Amazingly, standards exist outside of the government. And while feeble minds like yours cannot comprehend complexity, nobody was suggesting a judgeship for you anyway.

      1. Not only could standards exist, you could even have a website that allows users to select common criteria to put into the contract. Then, you just print and sign it, like building your own pizza.

    2. and if couples voluntarily draw up specific contracts, so what? People do it with other things all the time – sole proprietorship, C-Corp, LLC, and so forth. The world manages.

      The state has a role in mediating contract disputes, and it does this with marriage already. Sometimes there are pre-nups – specific contracts – to consider and still society soldiers on.

      1. So basically what you want is to eliminate the tax breaks and stuff (you can’t enter a private contract for a tax break, as far as I know). Okay, sell it to the people I guess. Make sure to tell them that you’ve always believed this and didn’t coincidentally come to this conclusion the moment gay people started agitating for marriage equality.

        1. Tax breaks? Ever heard of the marriage penalty? Dumbass.

          1. Married tax rates can work out to be a break or a penalty depending on the income distribution in the marriage.

          2. Marriage grants great tax benefits when inheritance is considered.

            1. Correct. The big issue is you can leave things to your spouse tax-free, but not children, or friends.

              So basically we either tax property left to a spouse, or stop taxing inheritance altogether.

        2. how does treating single and polygamous people the same as married people in the tax code hurt your marriage?

          1. I don’t see why single people shouldn’t get to inherit an estate tax free too.

          2. The presumption is there is some social benefit to encouraging couples to be married, such as creating a stable environment for the raising of children. Or the discouraging of sluttiness. It doesn’t bother me to argue that government should not promote marriage, though it may seem radical to some.

        3. You do realize that libertarians were ahead of Democrats on the subject by about 35 years, right?

          1. No, he doesn’t. And he’ll probably give you some bullshit statement about how they weren’t REALLY for it.

        4. Actually lots of libertarians were arguing for this BEFORE the gay marriage rulings as a compromise.

          The fact that the default state has shifted from no gay marriage to yes gay marriage hasn’t really changed that.

    3. Freedom is messy.

      Go marry Nurse Ratched, shithead.

    4. Did you know that office supply stores often carry common contracts you can buy for cheap?

    5. privatizing marriage

      Elaborate on what you mean by this term. Should not marriage already be a private affair? I realize it is not such in the context of the tax code. To me that is a reason for the gov’t to not define romantic couplings/groupings of people. So, I guess I am asking if you think people should only be able to consider themselves “married” if the gov’t says so.

      1. Privatizing marriage is what you call what people are arguing for, “getting government out of marriage.” My argument is that it doesn’t really become any less private if everyone’s drawing up enforceable contracts. It would just eliminate the tax breaks, I guess.

        If we’re talking about the ancient civil institution of legally recognized marriage, then yeah it doesn’t count if government isn’t in the picture. But no one’s stopping anyone from calling themselves married. Tons of people are married to Jesus.

        1. it doesn’t really become any less private if everyone’s drawing up enforceable contracts. It would just eliminate the tax breaks, I guess.

          It is a “private” contract that is enforced by “law” the enforces “property rights”. When you enter into the “contract” of “marriage”, you agree to share “property” based on certain terms (which is what makes it a contract). *If* the contract is broken or one wishes to dissolve the contract, who gets what property comes into play. Outside of that, it is none of the governments concern.

          (I know I used a lot of big words there, but try to keep up.)

          1. Yeah I think I can keep up: government should socialize property rights enforcement but for absolutely no coherent reason it shouldn’t do much else to shape society. Government shouldn’t be too powerful, it should only do those things that require actual physical force like enforcing property rights and national defense. Any other intrusions into common activity, particularly those things that don’t involve shooting people, are violations of freedom.

            1. government should socialize property rights enforcement but for absolutely no coherent reason it shouldn’t do much else to shape society

              And your alternative is what?

              Let all those moral, upstanding, just, and infinitely compassionate human beings, which make up professional politicians, should play a key role in shaping all of society.

              Good luck with that.

            2. government should socialize property rights enforcement but for absolutely no coherent reason it shouldn’t do much else to shape society.

              You are being deliberately disingenuous. Enforcing private property rights does not equal “socializing” property rights. Also, the government should not “shape society”. It should only protect individual rights, which exist outside of the existence of the government.

        2. My argument is that it doesn’t really become any less private if everyone’s drawing up enforceable contracts.

          Lolwut? If everyone is deciding what’s in their contract vs. the one-size-fits-all that .gov requires a license for, that’s pretty much ipso facto more private. You seem to be using private to mean not out in the open. We use private to designate who is in control.

          Also, since the courts already exist, and are recognized as necessary by virtually everyone (libertarian or not) except anarchists, that’s one more thing that government doesn’t get to dictate.

          1. You seem to be using private to mean not out in the open.

            Sorry, watching football and commenting isn’t the best…

            I should say you seem to be using private to mean government is completely out of something.

          2. You deem courts to be a legitimate use of government because you can’t figure out how we can run society without them–to the degree that massively increasing their role in society isn’t considered growing government’s scope. It’s just not tenable. My argument: a one-size-fits-all deal requires less government activity (dollars, intrusion) than a privatized system. Besides, it’s only within a state jurisdiction.

            1. You deem courts to be a legitimate use of government because you can’t figure out how we can run society without them

            2. Current regulatory and administrative schemes consume vast amounts of resources. Moving to a court-based system would reduce the size of government. Furthermore, there are many alternatives to courts, like arbitration, reputation, and insurance.

              In different words, you don’t have an argument, and your position is ludicrous.

            3. My argument: a one-size-fits-all deal requires less government activity (dollars, intrusion) than a privatized system.

              So human rights, such as the right of free association, are negotiable depending upon the perceived complexity of allowing it?

              Not that I buy your argument at all. The number and type of contacts is already infinite to some degree yet the courts seem perfectly capable of dealing with all that variety.

              But somehow you think allowing marriage to be included (as it should be) in the type of contacts courts can arbitrate will destroy the entire system.

              Though while here, remember this is a libertarian blog – meaning that arguing something might destroy the current system isn’t really a strong opposition point round these parts.

        3. That’s not what privatizing means. Privatizing means removing the government from the equation and replacing it with a private entity.

          Getting the government out of marriage shouldn’t entail putting something else in place of it.

          Marriage is a religious institution. Recognizing gay/straight/polygamy marriages is a defacto endorsement of a religious position, which violates the 1st Amendment.

          Private Property rights and divvying up the kids can be handled via contract law. Nothing more. You don’t want that. You want simply for gays to have the “perks” from government for being married.

          The argument libertarians use to counter this is: there should be *NO* perks. Period.

    6. Can someone explain how privatizing marriage would be the smaller-government solution?

      I dunno… perhaps because it involves fewer laws and less government?

      That is, an important state interest in marriage is to streamline a common form of contracting–actually to minimize the amount of government meddling necessary.

      Except that the standard form of government contract is a one-size-fits-all solution, is the result of massive rent seeking, and is failing miserably.

      And, in fact, government sanctioned marriage is not primarily a private contract, it is a legal status necessary to obtain government-granted privileges (tax breaks, etc.) and deal with government-created problems (immigration restrictions, bad privacy laws, etc.).

      This is if we’re pretending that most arguments for privatizing marriage aren’t entirely about solving the gay problem.

      I don’t understand what you are trying to get at. Are you suffering from the delusion that all gay men are just itching to get married?

  20. On what logical grounds can a person argue that gay marriage is OK but polygamy?or any other type of marriage?is not?

    Because we’re talking about legal marriage. That is, a package of rights, benefits, and responsibilities bestowed upon those recognized as ‘married’. This package has been codified in law and practice going back to our common law foundations. And while the particulars of rights, benefits, and responsibilities has been modified over time, our various institutions have well understood and time honored practices upon which our society depends upon. For example, a man is rushed to the hospital from a car crash. He is unconscious in critical condition but may be helped by a risky operation. Who can authorize the procedure? His wife shows up and says “do it”. They operate, but he dies anyway. He died without a will and his wife inherits the estate and retains custody of their children.

    Now suppose a second woman shows up and says “I’m also his wife and I say don’t touch him”. Who should the hospital defer to? The first wife to show up? The first wife he married? The last wife he married? After he dies, how is the estate divided? Who gets custody of the children?

    There are literally thousands of cases that society has well established means of handling, and upon which we depend on to keep society functioning in an orderly manner, in which the legal status of marriage simply can not be extended to polygamous unions.

    1. Nonsense, we have established ways of handling all those cases in polygamous unions.

      What if a child is rushed to the hospital, and both parents show up, but disagree on treatment? What if a single parent dies, how do we split the estate among their multiple surviving children? etc.

      1. Those things do not involve redefining the status of ‘married’. You can define polygamous unions, but you can’t extend marriage equity to them.

        1. It’d be fairly easy to establish such things in the marriage contract. For instance, you could establish who was the senior spouse, or perhaps you could put it to a vote.

          We could also look to societies that do allow polygamous marriages and see how they do things.

          1. No no no. The hospital isn’t going to have their lawyer vet your marriage contract while you lie bleeding on the table.

          2. Perhaps I replied too hastily. Yes, we can find solutions that would allow for polygamous unions. What we can’t do is simply extend the existing institution of marriage to them.

            We can (and under the 14th amendment, must) extend them to homosexual marriage. Thus the term, ‘marriage equity’.

            1. We can extend marriage to poly unions – at worst its just going to require an evolution of current family law to encompass the changes.

              I’ll grant you that extend secular marriage to encompass homosexual unions is easy (or at least far easier) – but we can’t use the ‘its too hard’ argument to oppose poly marriage.

              It will require changes in legislation, but those changes do not have to all be codified beforehand. Keep in mind that the vast majority of family law was not thought out beforehand – its simply a codification of what people were already doing or wanted to have happen already.

              1. It’s not that it’s too hard. It’s that it’s not the same. And can’t be the same.

              2. We can extend marriage to poly unions – at worst its just going to require an evolution of current family law to encompass the changes.

                We can extend it, or we can get rid of it, or we can leave it the way it is. (Personally, I favor getting rid of it.)

                However, whatever number of participants we deem desirable, it needs to be available to people in compliance with the equal protection clause. That means any two adults.

          3. Societies that allow and practice polygamy are grossly unequal and generally totalitarian. You can’t have polygamy without coercion to control those who can’t get a wife.

            Polygamy is inherently incompatible with liberal (in the classical sense) society.

            1. Google “polyamory,” please. Many modern “liberal” (in any sense) citizens of this and other First World societies would like to marry more than one of their romantic partners. Most of those relationships are so consensual they squeak. So to speak. lol

              1. Now you are talking about sex, not managing property rights and care of the family.

                The government doesn’t care who you sleep with, just that there is a responsible party to care for any children, and to manage property rights.

                If a poly group wants to play musical beds, then they need to handle the contract relationships themselves, because sorting it out is far too complex to handle in a default statutory framework.

                On the other hand, extending the statutory contract framework to same sex couples requires not change in the law, except the listing of gender.

    2. Who can authorize the procedure?

      Anyone whom he has previously delegated that authority to, or the next of kin within his blood-related family.

    3. LOL, you think the common law had income tax deductions based on dependents?

      Tax codes are purely statutory and almost definitionally NOT common law.

      Don’t get me wrong, there was taxation under the crown, so there is some common law for it. But that would be like 3 or 4 rules versus the 30 or 40,000 in the current codes.

  21. I agree with Zeb. People can now live together in polygamous relationships without being married, but very few choose to do so. Mostly women would not tolerate for long another wife or two, nor would many men be willing to share one woman – and their income – with another couple of men. In our culture, polygamous marriages would probably not catch on. No need to outlaw something that is going to be very very rare.

    1. And I think you’re way wrong there.

      There are *tons* of woman who will tolerate a second or third wife – especially if the alternative is to join the First Wives’ Club.

      And I’m sure there a a decent amount of men who can tolerate a co-husband.

      1. I couldn’t tolerate either. I’m not going to share pussy, and I certainly couldn’t stand a second nag in the house.

        1. I appreciate how blunt this is. And I agree.

      2. I think you underestimate the power of jealousy and insecurity. Purely anecdotal, but I have know a few people who tried out polyamorous relationships and they didn’t work out too well or last very long. And from other people’s anecdotes, I gather this is not unusual in such arrangements.

    2. People can live in polygamous relationships and be married at the same time.

      Unless you mean a marriage isn’t a marriage unless the government says it is.

      1. People can live in polygamous relationships and be married at the same time.

        Who said they couldn’t?

        But there are reasons why people get marriage licenses rather than just saying they are married and so sloppily conflate legal marriage with de facto marriage.

  22. Okay, we’ll marry the gays and the polys, but we don’t want the Irish!

    1. As someone who grew up with Irish parents, I couldn’t agree more.

      1. Your self-hatred is duly noted.

    2. Require the Irish only to have homosexual marriages, everybody will be happy, and the problem will take care of itself 🙂

    3. Just FYI this is a Blazing Saddles quote.

      I know cavalier973 knows that, this is for everyone else.

  23. You know, Mr. Harsanyi, I don’t think your state’s “Alt-Text” ban has been upheld by the SCOTUS, so you can let yourself go, and stuff.

    I don’t get the picture, by the way. Are we supposed to be checking out the lady’s produce?

    1. I think the idea is, she’s choosing.

      Of course it might also be that she’s choosing fruit, but let’s not go there.

  24. On what logical grounds can a person argue that gay marriage is OK but polygamy?or any other type of marriage?is not?

    I don’t know, but I can for vice versa: One is about the definition of what marriage is, while the other is about a regulation on the number of marriages you’re permitted to participate in at a time. I’m OK with polygamy, not with same sex “marriage”.

    1. It’s like comparing the legal issue of what a dollar is with the legal issue of how much money you’re allowed to have. I’m not for allowing the sovereign to usurp the customary meaning of units of measure, but I’m for allowing people to have as much money as they want.

    2. It’s really not that hard to understand. Legal marriage is a contract between two people, and government can’t restrict that based on gender any more than it can restrict it based on ethnicity or religion. I.e., it can’t offer marriage only to white people or to Christians.

      Offering a particular form of contract only to groups of two, on the other hand, does not fall under the equal protection clause.

      1. “…government can’t restrict that based on gender…”

        The limitation on the definition is based on sex, not gender. Now that we have that cleared up…

        1. Well, it isn’t the biological sex that matters, but the legally recognized sex, which is a social construct and may differ from the biological sex. So, ironically, the legal definition of marriage is in fact in terms of gender not sex.

  25. How can one argue that gay marriage is OK but polygamy is not?

    It’s a similar mindset to those who want to restrict immigration, or entrance into a club.

    Hotair.com didn’t allow just anyone to register in order to make comments. It was an exclusive commentary club, and I managed to get in after years of waiting. YEARS. Then, a couple of weeks later, they opened the registration again. I was unhappy.

    Now that the same-sex couples have won “marriage equality”, for the SCOTUS to throw open the door to anyone who wants to marry his lawnmower cheapens the struggle of the past few years.

    1. for the SCOTUS to throw open the door to anyone who wants to marry his lawnmower cheapens the struggle of the past few years.

      Not to mention comparing gay people to inanimate objects.

      1. IT’S REAL TO MY UNCLE, YOU OTHERING MONSTER!!!!

        I think I’ll have to warn Aunt Craftsman to avoid this site because of bigots like you.

  26. It’s really not that hard to understand: government can’t discriminate based on gender any more than it can based on ethnicity or religion; it violates the equal protection clause. So, whatever number of adults you are going to make marriages available to, you need to do so subject to equal protection.

    Of course, personally, I think we should abolish government recognition of marriage altogether.

    1. Unlike what tony thinks you will find an overwhelming majority of libertarians would prefer the state be out of marriage. And it has nothing to do with gays. Let people handle it under civil contact and the religious can marry in their church and then fill out a civil contract.

      1. Government needs to be involved, because marriage is a framework to handle property, and care or children. Neither can be managed laissez faire. The state must document who owns property, in order to protect the owners. It must also follow marriage to ensure irresponsible parents are held accountable.

        1. Just make that part of the standard marriage contract.

          When I die, my wife gets my shit, unless I specifiy otherwise in my will.

        2. The state must document who owns property, in order to protect the owners.

          Many millions of Americans are co-habiting, often with children. They seem to be getting in and out of relationships without “the state” standing there with a clipboard and keeping track of who owns what.

          In fact, marriage rates are at a historic low probably because more and more Americans don’t want to have to put up with the legal b.s. that people like you have created around marriage.

          It must also follow marriage to ensure irresponsible parents are held accountable.

          Who are you kidding? Irresponsible parents aren’t held accountable for anything. If a woman gets pregnant, she gets child support and numerous other sources of income; it’s a perverse incentive. If they can’t pay for education, the state pays. If they don’t have time to supervise them, the state provides for child care. And when their kids go around stealing, raping, and murdering, the parents don’t get held responsible either.

          Irresponsible parents ought to be held accountable, but they aren’t. The least we can do is not subsidize their irresponsible choices.

  27. Harsanyi is dead wrong, and his hostility to marriage equality is showing him to be anti-Gay or intellectually bankrupt.

    The ban on polygamy will survive, because polygamy inherently abusive to woman. It is about rich and powerful men taking less powerful woman as essentially chattel property. There is no evidence of rich or powerful women seeking multiple husbands. The result of polygamy will be a surplus of poor men unable to find a wife, nevermind a date.

    This is the reason polygamy cannot be allowed: it is destabilizing to society. Marriage by same-sex couple, on the other hand will benefit society as the domesticating benefits of marriage devolve to the happy couple.

    1. Why not just require that all partners to the current marriage agree to the addition of any new member?

      If a man wants to take a second or third wive then his first and second wives must agree to marry the third wife too.

      That would inevitably limit the number of wives any man would end up with.

    2. The result of polygamy will be a surplus of poor men unable to find a wife, nevermind a date.

      The Mormons seemed to do all right before the US forced them to abandon the practice.

    3. This is the reason polygamy cannot be allowed: it is destabilizing to society. Marriage by same-sex couple, on the other hand will benefit society as the domesticating benefits of marriage devolve to the happy couple.

      This is just question-begging. Polygamous societies have existed for centuries. Societies with same-sex marraiges have only become common in the last 20 years or so. It’s bit rich to argue that a man marrying a bunch of women (or vice versa) is going to result in the destabilization of that society.

      Ultimately, it’s disingenuous to argue that polygamists shouldn’t possess the same right to have their marraiges legally recognized that gays are seeking, if the struggle for gay marraige truly is about equality and not simply a progressive fetish.

  28. I’m fine with legalizing polygamy, but there’s a very rational reason why it would need to be legalized through legislation rather than court action — legalizing same sex marriages merely requires use of gender neutral language in statutes, everything else remains unchanged. Allowing marriages with more than two partners is going to require a massive overhaul of laws covering taxes, bankruptcy, probate, divorce/custody, adoption, etc. to address various permutations of relationships in ways that don’t lend themselves to resolution in the courts. For example, under current law, when you get married your spouse automatically becomes your heir to any undisbursed funds in your 401k upon your death unless your spouse authorizes a different beneficiary. Obviously, whether your spouse is the same sex as you or not doesn’t matter for purposes of that law. However, if you have a 401k, get married to one person and then later marry a second person, what result? Is the 401k the sole property of the first spouse? Should it be split 50-50 between the spouses? Should the later spouse only get a share of that part of 401k contributions/growth that happened after the second marriage? A court can’t rewrite the statute to address that and can’t realistically give guidance to a legislature on how the law should be rewritten in that situation.

  29. What if a baker doesn’t want to serve cake at a polygamous wedding?
    Can they be forced to?

    1. They could save money and have one of the spouses bake the cake themselves.

  30. Lol. Gay marriage advocates insisted this debate would not lead to polygamy. Lol.

    1. I don’t think most gay marriage advocates care about polygamy one way or another. Why are you so obsessed with it?

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