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Is Gay Marriage Actually Different than Polygamy?

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On March 30, 2013 @ 9:57 pm In The Point | 148 Comments

The obvious question about transforming marriage to mean two men, is why draw the line at two? If we’re going to deconstruct the definition of marriage from a union between a biological couple to a union between anyone, why stop at two?

Ted Olson’s Supreme Court argument in this regard is supremely unconvincing.

“Well, you’ve said — you’ve said in the cases decided by this court that the polygamy issue, multiple marriages raises questions about exploitation, abuse, patriarchy, issues with respect to taxes, inheritance, child custody, it is an entirely different thing,” Olson said. “And if you — if a state prohibits polygamy, it’s prohibiting conduct.

“If it prohibits gay and lesbian citizens from getting married, it is prohibiting their exercise of a right based upon their status,” Olson said.

Patriarchy issues? Really.

Is Ted Olson seriously claiming that polygamy can be banned by states because of the patriarchy? Child custody is downright silly. If child custody cases can be worked out between two men or two women in a system that generally favors women, they can be worked out between a polygamous family, since unlike the gay setup, there is an actual biological father and biological mother, making custody relatively easier to decide on.

Abuses is even sillier. If we’re going with the premise that anything consenting adults do is legal, why is homosexuality a civil rights issue while polygamy is a crime?

Olson claims that polygamy is conduct, but homosexuality is a status. This is obviously a myth. Both are conduct. No one has to marry. They choose to marry. Even for those who wrongly claim that homosexuality is genetic, that extends to sexual acts, not to marriage.

If the premise of the so-called marriage equality push is that non-traditional forms of marriage are a civil rights issue, then why make the distinction?

Arguing that homosexual marriage is a fundamental rights but polygamous marriage isn’t has nothing to do with biology. They are both forms of conduct.

If limiting marriage to biological couples is determined to exclude homosexuals, then limiting marriage to two people excludes polygamous families.

The real issue here is that it is being asserted that one form of non-traditional family is legitimate and the other isn’t based on some mixture of social values and personal taste. And the entire gay rights movement is nothing if not a rejection of social values and taste.

Olson is forced to make ridiculously convoluted arguments to defend the contradiction. And those same arguments apply to homosexuality. Fears of abuse? Custody issues? Social disapproval? All of those are on the table.

Either we adhere to a rational fixed notion of marriage or we reject the notion altogether. There is no rational reason for some random middle ground based on the money and influence of a small group trying to legalize its own sexual fetish for its own purposes.

We can either have defined marriage or completely undefined marriage. What gay rights activists cannot do is demand an expansion that only covers their special case.


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