Will Legalizing Gay Marriage Lead to Legalizing Polygamy?

When you knock down a wall to let in your pet lion, how do you keep the other predators out?

Answer: You can’t. 

That’s a simplified version of the logic behind the reasoning in an article from the Baptist Press. The article says that there is no legal basis for reediting marriage to include two men or two women that does not open the door for virtually any other innovation.

I agree with this, btw. The legal twisting and turning necessary to overturn almost every marriage law in this country require destroying the institution as the legal entity that we have known it for at least 2 millennia. What we put in its place after that will be wide open.

The move to legalize polygamy has been quietly racketing up for quite some time and it’s coming from the same folks who are pushing gay marriage beginning, of course, with lawsuits from the ACLU and television shows normalizing polygamy such as Big Love and Sister Wives.

The Baptist Press article says in part:


by Michael Foust
WASHINGTON (BP) — Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would jettison the rationale and logic behind prohibitions on polygamous marriages, according to several friend-of-the court briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the traditional definition of marriage …… “Ultimately, there is no principled basis for recognizing a legality of same-sex marriage without simultaneously providing a basis for the legality of consensual polygamy or certain adult incestuous relationships,” reads one of the briefs, filed by the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel. “In fact, every argument for same-sex marriage is an argument for them as well.”…  A friend-of-the-court brief signed by 18 state attorneys general also briefly warns about the potential legalization of polygamy if gay marriage is legalized. The brief — which supports Prop 8 — says the traditional definition of marriage is tied to the fact that only a man and woman can reproduce, thus continuing society’s very existence. The state has an interest, the brief says, to see that children are raised, ideally, by the mother and father who beget them. A mother and father in each home is “optimal for children and society at large.”

“Once the natural limits that inhere in the relationship between a man and a woman can no longer sustain the definition of marriage, the conclusion that follows is that any grouping of adults would have an equal claim to marriage,” the attorneys general brief states, arguing that marriage no longer would be about the needs of children but about the desires of adults.Liberty Counsel’s brief quotes 19th century Supreme Court cases that upheld the federal government’s ban on polygamy in Utah. Among them were Reynolds v. United States (1878) and Murphy v. Ramsey (1885). In the 1885 case, the justices affirmed the traditional definition of marriage, writing that laws are “wholesome and necessary” when they are established on the basis of the idea of the family as “consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony.” The court called traditional marriage “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.”Liberty Counsel asserted that “when the traditional definition of marriage as that between one man and one woman is reversed to include other marriages, the state is left with little, if any, justification for other laws restricting marriage.”  (Read the rest here.)

Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • http://rkdglobaloutreachministriesgmailcom.blogspot.com Roy D Durrence

    Gay marriage, polygamy, then what comes next ? Legalized incest, beastiality, pedophilia ? Really, truly, where does it end?

    • Ender


      How about none of those, because none of those involve CONSENTING ADULTS.

      There is a giant glowing line between gay marriage/polygamy and beastiality/pedophilia.

      • BJ

        Consenting adults?

        Calling an 18 YO an adult is about as arbitrary as it gets. If they are willing to change 2000 years worth of Western tradition fudging around with things like age is nothing.

        I’ve yet to see any magic take place when a person crosses the threshold from 17 to 18. Yet, one is rape and the other is perfectly fine. Talk about a silly distinction.

  • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

    Interesting question, Rebecca. I’m a bit confused as to who are the “predators”. The ACLU? Reality TV programs? People who support polygamy?
    I’m also a little puzzled about what the yellow dinosaur says. Does he want a law to ensure that the white dinosaur’s girlfriend doesn’t kiss her best friend?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Erik, since you’ve got a columbia.edu email address, I’m betting you’re smart enough to know the answers to your own questions. Hint: If you have something to say, say it.

      • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

        That’s great advice and very flattering, and although Columbia’s a wonderful school (go Lions!), your bet is wrong. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have something to say. I’d genuinely like to know what you think.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I think that the people who signed the amicus briefs discussed in the article are probably right. I wish I could’ve found a better cartoon, but copyrights limit what I can use. What I like about this one is that the arguments the dinosaur is raising in favor of polygamy echo the arguments we’ve been hearing for a long time. They’re becoming rote, but they keep on working with the public, mainly I think, due to the power of repetition and group think.

          • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

            Thanks for responding, Rebecca! The dinosaur cartoon’s not bad. I actually think they’re kind of cute. And as you suggest, it does echo long-standing arguments rather clearly — and humorously, too, which is always a plus.

            The word “predator” has strong, and I’d go so far as to say, morally negative, connotations — among them, sexual predator. So when somebody uses it, I want to make sure I understand exactly to whom he or she is actually referring. But the amicus brief doesn’t seem to use the word “predators”, so I’m still not sure what you mean by it. If there are indeed true predators around me that I don’t know about, then I’d like someone to say specifically who they are. That way, I might take actions to stop their predatory behavior.

            The cartoon talks about a woman going out with her best friend while in a non-marital relationship with someone else (And it’s unclear whether that’s a man or a woman, and whether their relationship is sexual. In fact, I assumed above the yellow dinosaur is male, again proving I’m not particularly smart.). Is that woman a predator? (That would make one of my ex-girlfriends a predator.) Is she more or less predatory than, say, a man from a different faith tradition who has 3 wives? What about in rural Tibet, where the norm is polyandry — that is, one wife with multiple husbands? Is that whole society predatory? (Or is it unfair for me to include them in the discussion, since this is a Catholic, Christian forum?) What about a Roman Catholic queer unmarried woman who wishes to have multiple partners, and is struggling with her conscience? Perhaps she even goes through a period in her life in which she supports gay marriage (which might lead to legalized polygamy). Is she a predator? The Catechism (2358-2359) is pretty clear that we should show compassion toward people with homosexual tendencies, and it doesn’t use the word “predator”, so I am going to need to know if I must reconcile possibly competing terminology. Furthermore, Matthew 7 instructs me that if I’m going to call someone a predator, I’ve got to make sure I’ve taken the log out of my own eye, first, and I’d like to do that work if necessary. (I pretty much always have a lot of work to do there.)

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              Everybody’s an editor!

              I wrote a post a few days ago, The Church and Women, in which I used the word “misogynist.” One would think that was the total of the post, just the word: Misogynist.

              Now, it appears that the word predator is too much.


              I meant misogynist. I am actually being more facetious with predator.

              But this word editing is getting tedious. I know you’re late to the party, but I’m kind of tired of it.

              Btw, you’re not teaching a class here. I realize that it’s common to use leading questions to teach. It is also common to use leading questions such as those you are posing to use the classroom to indoctrinate students in a certain point of view. If you have something to say, just say it straight out Eric.

              • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

                OK — so you were being facetious? I didn’t get that. (New Yorkers have trouble with irony sometimes.)

                Let’s disregard the word, then. So that I can learn as much as possible from your post: what else in there is facetious, and what not?

                Sorry I was late to the party! Didn’t know what time it started.

                • Rebecca Hamilton

                  Erik, I’m not going to explain the post to you. Just wade in and have your say based on the understanding you have.

                • Rebecca Hamilton

                  By the way Erik, I looked at your blog. You have a wonderful resume. Humanitarian medicine is an interesting thing to focus on. I’m impressed.

                  • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

                    That’s so kind of you to say. You’ve been in the Oklahoma legislature — that’s pretty cool, too.

              • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

                As for indoctrination, Rebecca, I couldn’t indoctrinate someone if I had a mind control machine. I actually think there’s a strong case against same-sex marriage (and a strong case for it, and I don’t support either side). I’m asking you questions because I think your point of view is unique, and I’d like to see it clarified on points I don’t understand.

                You might want to just paste this to the above comment.

                • Rebecca Hamilton

                  Erik, I’m sorry if I came off snappy. I made assumptions and you are entirely correct that those assumptions were without basis. I apologize.

                  • http://www.columbia.edu/~ejc2165/erikcampano/ Erik Campano

                    No worries! I enjoy reading your blog.

                    • Rick

                      I mention what I think the “predators” are. One of the primary purposes of marriage is to procreate and socialize children. Our experiments with divorce and living together has disproportionately hurt women and children. Single mothers and children have among the highest poverty rates. If marriage becomes more and more about the adults involved in a relationship and their sexual, economic and social pleasure, I think that children and poor educated females will be hurt even more than they are now.

            • SteveP

              Predator: someone who inherits an estate and then sues, under the guise of “marriage equality,” the authorized Federal collection agency leaving the tax revenue shortfall to be paid by someone else’s children.

    • Theodore Seeber

      All of the above. Take your pick. The intent, of course, is to reduce and destroy civilization itself.

  • Araghast

    So what precisely is wrong about polyamorous relationships (aside from your god hating it)?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Araghast for making my point. :-)

      • Araghast

        Wait, do you mean that you’re god hating is the justification you make for sticking to a specific definition?

        I was actually hoping to get an answer to that question. Is god’s seeming phobia of non monogamous heterosexual relationship really the ONLY reason you’re against non monogamous heterosexual relationships?

    • Theodore Seeber

      Main reason is human jealousy in normal people, and the lack of ability for a child to know his/her parents.

  • http://thought-interrupted.com/ Jordan Henderson

    It’s a road we started down when we knocked down barriers to easy divorce and society accepted contraception as a universal good.

    Here’s another good cartoon along these lines:


    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      Good point Jordan. It’s crossed my mind too. The social ills did start with divorce, contraception, and sexual freedom.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    It doesn’t necessarily follow but I think it will in time. The same justification applies. It’s a radical individualism.

  • Laddie V Mapani

    Erik Cmpano, where you quote the CCC and speak of compassion to Homosexuals you also seem to forget that it has been listed there as an offence to chastity. Its of grave depravity according to scripture. The compassionate part comes because the condition can not be understood even psychologically, how a man can be attracted to another man. You have to treat them with compassion because the devil is at work in them. If the devil is in them would you not be compassionate and would you not say they too are ”predators” mothing wrong with using the word predator in the context.

  • Birthday girl

    Yes. The next “frontier” will be polygamy. There are already polygamous communities among us and they will rise up and demand their rights. They are already beginning … see the TV show Sister Wives. There are many “families” of that sort living quietly among us in the state where I currently reside. Then there are also all those Muslims who are religiously allowed 4 wives, but only allowed one by government. Yes, just the beginning.

  • pagansister

    Polygamy has already been tried by the early Mormons—and is still practiced (but not authorized by the present LDS church) by the fundimentalist Mormons. Who knows what the future holds? Personally, I wonder how one man supports all those wives!

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      How sexist of you. They all support him! ;)

      • pagansister

        Manny : “They all support him!” :-) I’m sure—in more ways than one!! :-)