Civil marriage is a legal contract between two persons. Same-sex
marriage acknowledges that the two persons in a civil marriage are
legally equal, and things that are equal to the same thing are equal to
SSM will not lead to legal polygamy because 2 is not equal to three.
The thousands of laws that apply to married couples can apply to any
*couple*, but they cannot be readily translated to sets of 3, 4, or
more. The issue is a red herring.
Similarly, the issue of “man+dog” is a red herring, because dogs cannot enter into contracts.
So why do people keep dragging in these up herrings? IMHO it’s
because truly traditional marriage (from 1919 back to the dawn of time)
is *not* a contract between legal equals. It’s an arrangement between a
person with full human and legal rights (the “man”) and a person with
less than complete rights (the “wife”). Once a woman has the same legal
rights as a man — the right to own property, to sue for divorce, to
vote, whatever — old-fashioned, traditional is already dead. SSM is
just the nail in the coffin, making explicit what had been only
implied, and *that*’s why traditionalists feel it undermines their
marriage — because it does, because any demonstration that married
people are legally equal partners undermines tradition.
People who bring up Man+Dog are revealing that to them marriage
isn’t a contract, it’s a sex license. You can only imagine replacing a
woman with a dog if the woman was not truly a human being in the first
Polygamy is also a red herring, because traditional polygamy, like
other traditional marriages, is *not* a contract between equals.
Historically, the line between traditional marriage and polygamy has
been a fine one, because a man (a fully-featured legal person) can have
limited contracts with a number of partial legal persons (women).
When marriage becomes a fully reciprocal contract between 2 complete
people, it’s much harder to extend that to 3 people or more. Who gets
to make medical decisions? Who’s the default heir? There’s no legal
precedent or structure to deal with these issues, to see how they would
work in practice — and given how many hundreds of years and millions
of lawyers it’s taken to develop the marriage law we have, I don’t
expect to see legal polygamy any time soon.
Spot on, Dr. Science. I’m becoming more and more convinced that the defense of “traditional marriage” (as if there were such a thing) is really just a foil for the continuation of patriarchy.