Not that there’s anything wrong with it (?).
Long ago, and far away, we predicted that once the legal standard for equal protection of the law as to marriage became “love” and consenting adults, without regard to gender, there would be no rational basis upon which to limit the number to two:
- The Gay Marriage Slippery Slope Is Back
- On what rational basis does NY State now deny polyamorous clusters the right to marry?
- Polyamory – at least be honest about it
That is the argument put forth by Prof. Martha Nussbaum, “Polygamy would have to be permitted”:
Now, via BuzzFeed, Polygamists are emboldened to speak of their love and demand legal rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision, Polygamists Celebrate Supreme Court’s Marriage Rulings:
The Supreme Court’s rulings in favor of same-sex marriage Wednesday were greeted with excitement by polygamists across the country, who viewed the gay rights victory as a crucial step toward the country’s inevitable acceptance of plural marriage.
Anne Wilde, a vocal advocate for polygamist rights who practiced the lifestyle herself until her husband died in 2003, praised the court’s decision as a sign that society’s stringent attachment to traditional “family values” is evolving.
“I was very glad… The nuclear family, with a dad and a mom and two or three kids, is not the majority anymore,” said Wilde. “Now it’s grandparents taking care of kids, single parents, gay parents. I think people are more and more understanding that as consenting adults, we should be able to raise a family however we choose.”
“We’re very happy with it,” said Joe Darger, a Utah-based polygamist who has three wives. “I think [the court] has taken a step in correcting some inequality, and that’s certainly something that’s going to trickle down and impact us.”
Noting that the court found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional because the law denied marriage rights to a specific class of people, Darger said, “Our very existence has been classified as criminal… and I think the government needs to now recognize that we have a right to live free as much as anyone else.” …
But polygamists in the United States, where bigamy is a crime, have taken cues from the marriage equality movement, and the few public champions of the lifestyle have deliberately positioned themselves as libertarian-minded gay rights advocates as well. Following gay rights activists’ lead, polygamist families — like the Browns, with their TLC reality show Sister Wives, and the Dargers, who came out with a book last year — have come forward to convince the American public that their lifestyle can be wholesome and normal.
The key difference in their missions, Wilde said, is that “gays want legal marriage and polygamists don’t” — they just want their lifestyle to be decriminalized.
Matt Lewis notes:
After all, why shouldn’t marriage equality apply to them, too?
The arguments are essentially the same. For example, Sen. Al Franken recently issued a statement saying, “Our country is starting to understand that it’s not about what a family looks like: it’s about their love and commitment to one another.” Polygamists couldn’t agree more.
USA Today notes, Polygamists find promise in Supreme Court decisions, that the polygamist movement still does not have the political power to effect legal change:
But the trajectory towards legalizing polygamy is not so simple, legal scholars say.
David Cohen, a professor at Drexel University who specializes in family law, says that the lack of mainstream acceptance for polygamy does not bode well for its legalization.
“There is no political movement in this country that is anywhere near making the same gains for polygamy that have been made for gay marriage,” he says.
That may be so. But that can and probably will change.
Preventing loving adults from marrying is the new evil in the modern world, as Justice Scalia recited in his Dissent in the DOMA case:
By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition. Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is “no legitimate purpose” served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition has “the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure” the “personhood and dignity” of same-sex couples. The majority’s limiting assurance will be meaningless in the face of language like that, as the majority well knows. That is why the language is there. The result will be a judicial distortion of our society’s debate over marriage—a debate that can seem in need of our clumsy “help” only to a member of this institution.
Why do we hate loving adults just because they want to live and marry as a threesome?
On what rational basis do we pick the arbitrary number Two when other (allegedly) arbitrary distinctions have been declared the enemy of decency? Polygamy has a historical and social acceptance in many cultures which far surpasses gay marriage, a very recent phenomenon.
Why should the children of polygamous relationships have to live in shame and be subjected to discrimination, to paraphrase Justice Kennedy?