Dad on the slippery slope argument

Another facebook friend tagged me in a comment asking for my assessment of the slippery slope argument.  On this occasion it was, “If you let gays marry, why not polygamists?”

Dad got to it before I could and hammered it harder.

Hi, Michele, not JT but would like to weigh in on ” Specifically, I’ve been asked: if we give homosexuals the right to marry, why not polygamists”.

First of all, each needs to be argued on its own merits, not on some vague slippery slope innuendo. If there are good –or bad–arguments for the legalization of polygamy, trot them out and debate them…..but don’t say something silly like if you let polygamists practice polygamy, won’t you have to give marriage rights to homosexuals? Seriously, why don’t you just back it up to “if you’re going to allow heterosexuals to marry, won’t you have to allow homosexuals to marry?” (the answer should be a slam dunk.)

Polygamy is a different matter with different arguments, but the truth is that it is banned for pretty much the same reasons as gay marriage, with the added ingredient that it was outlawed here due to discrimination against the Mormons. I suspect you knew that. “During the 1870s and 1880s, federal laws were passed and federal marshals assigned to punish and harass polygamists, confiscate church property, jail polygamists and deny jury trials or voting rights to all polygamists. In the 1890 Manifesto, the LDS Church finally agreed to drop its approval of polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood again in 1895, it was accepted. One of the conditions for granting Utah statehood was that a ban on polygamy be written into the state constitution.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Utah#Utah_Territory

Actually, polygamy is legal around much of the world, has worked perfectly well for thousands of years, and is against the law here primarily because of continuing anti-Mormon discrimination–according to many, they’re not REALLY Christians–and because of the evolving Judeo-Christian tradition. It was banned in the Jewish community around 1000 A.D. Rabbi Gershom, and banned by the Catholic church in England in 673 as a slap to existing Anglo-Saxon pagan marriage customs. It was the The Roman councils of 1052 and 1063 that pretty much put the kibosh on it for primarily Christian countries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy_in_Christianity

When you consider polygamy on its own merits,though…..why shouldn’t it be legal? They always ask, “Gee, if you allow same sex marriage, won’t you have to allow polygamy (GASP!)? Although they are two separate issues, I don’t see what is so horrible about polygamy. It isn’t my cup of tea, but if it floats someone else’s boat, more power to them. Seriously—jokes aside—why shouldn’t polygamy be legal?

Here is an interesting back ground article:
http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=kaminer_28_5

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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