The haters who said that polygamy would follow same-sex marriage

Back when same-sex marriage was the subject of referenda (eventually rendered irrelevant by the Supreme Court), the haters said that same-sex marriage was the camel nose under the tent for polygamy. This was an outrageous calumny. See “Polygamy Is Not Next” (TIME, 2015), for example and “No, Polygamy Isn’t the Next Gay Marriage” (Politico, 2015): “Opposing the legalization of plural marriage should not be my burden, because gay marriage and polygamy are opposites, not equivalents.”

From CNN, six years later: “Three dads, a baby and the legal battle to get their names added to a birth certificate”:

This isn’t news, actually, but we’re just hearing about it now…

The judge ruled in their favor before their daughter Piper was born in 2017. Jenkins believes they are the first polyamorous family in California, and possibly the country, to be named as the legal parents of a child.

The journalists want us to know how much better this is than when there are two squabbling opposite-sex parents:

The dads and their children share a bustling house with two Goldendoodles named Otis and Hazel.

“We’ve had zero negative feedback from coworkers and friends. Everyone seems to just be delighted about the arrangement and that’s because they know us,” Jenkins says. “I think some people will look at this and say like, ‘Oh, this is exotic. It’s going to harm the child.’ But people who know us know that we have been taking care of these kids as best as we possibly can.”

That however hopeless things may seem as a young gay man struggling to fit in, the world is changing. And that he’ll someday find more love under one roof than he ever imagined.

(If two dads are good, maybe three are better! See The happiest children in Spain live with two daddies,)

From my inbox, “How Polyamorists and Polygamists Are Challenging Family Norms” (New Yorker): “Campaigns for legal recognition may soon make multiple-partner marriages as unremarkable as same-sex marriages.

Some excerpts:

The next year, in an online forum, they saw a post from a woman in her early thirties named Julie Halcomb that said, “I’m a single mom, I’ve got a two-year-old daughter, and I’d like to learn more.” Rich wrote, “If you want to know more, ask my wives.” Angela had opposed adding a third wife, but when she got off her first call with Julie she said, “O.K., when is she moving in?” Julie visited, mostly to make sure that the kids would get along, and joined the household permanently a week later.

Their living arrangements attracted other unwelcome attention. Neighbors called the police, and Child Protective Services interviewed the children. Since there was only one marriage certificate, the police couldn’t file bigamy charges. “They said, ‘We don’t like it, but there’s nothing we can do,’ ” Julie recalled. “But we had them at our door constantly. One of the kids would have an accident at school—we’d have them there again. They were constantly trying to find signs of abuse.”

At the family’s largest, Rich had four wives, but when I met him, a couple of years ago, he and Angela were divorcing, and another woman, April, had come and gone. Rich, Brandy, and Julie were living with their kids—six, including Rich’s and Julie’s from earlier relationships—and saw Angela’s two every other weekend.

The Austins would like one day to enjoy the legal benefits that married couples take for granted. Brandy and Julie take heart from the success of the gay-marriage movement. “I’ve got a wedding invitation on the way from a friend who’s transitioning from female to male,” Julie said. “I’ve got classmates that came out almost twenty years ago. They’ve been lucky enough to get married. I wish people would be as accepting with us as we try to be of everyone else.”

We already have functional polygamy in the U.S. An American doesn’t need to settle for the highest-earning partner whom he/she/ze/they can find for a long-term marriage. He/she/ze/they can have sex once with an already-married high-income defendant and earn more via child support (see Hunter Biden’s plaintiff) than by getting married to a mediocre earner and enduring his/her/zer/their presence in the apartment 24/7. Soon we can have de jure polygamy?

18 thoughts on “The haters who said that polygamy would follow same-sex marriage

  1. Pedophilia is next. Look for it to be legalized in public schools near you soon. The alphabet acceptance crowd has had their eye on the letter P from the beginning.

    • This is almost correct, and it’s worth pointing out that it’s nothing new. Ancient Rome and Greece, the Ottoman empire, modern Hollywood, etc. Also, they came very close to normalizing it in the 1970s.

      But the guns have to go first.

  2. I thought marriage is *a contract* between willing subscribers. Your local religious establishment might not accept [insert whatever non traditional contract holders], but who cares? your responsibilities toward your god or gods are YOUR problem, all that matters is the contract and its validity before the law. Let’s be practical here.

    • It’s a contract that one party can be forced to keep even when broken by the other party; a three-way contract between the two parties and the state. In other words it’s different than most other contracts.

    • Sam, enlighten me how this is different from any legally enforceable contracts? where are the legally enforceable words about ‘not sleeping around’ (for instance)? In fact, having a child comes with multiple legally enforceable contracts in its own right!

  3. I remember thinking at the time that the polygamy argument was rather self-defeating. I’ve never yet met anyone who wanted to end discrimination against gay people but was at the same time concerned with preserving a 19th century law passed to persecute Mormons.

  4. Ha! I remember being at a large family holiday gathering back in the late 1970s. Two of the women in the family were public school teachers in suburban school systems and the big dinnertime debate / shouting match one night was all about the merits and demerits of mandatory “sex education” classes in high school as part of the general Health curriculum. The argument got very, very heated. I remember it very well because everyone was yelling at each other, it took a long time to get everyone calmed back down after a couple of people stormed out of the room, etc. And of course we had another round of the arguments on the phone and on the way home afterward. I was relatively precocious and I’m sure my memory is pretty good for big family fights during the holidays.

    The Conservative aunt/teacher said: “They say this is only to teach anatomy and basic reproductive physiology and health, but next it will be contraception and abortion, and after that it will be homosexuality. This is to push the women’s lib. (what “feminism” was still called then) agenda and I’ll tell you right now that abortion will be next and then it will the gays.”

    The Liberal aunt/teacher said: “You’ve been this way your whole life with your Christian bullshit and all you’re doing is hurting kids and women who go through life not knowing anything about sex until they’re married. Then they have to have back-alley abortions because they didn’t know they could take a pill or wear a condome (she actually pronounced it conDOME) to stop themselves from getting pregnant. You’re crazy if you think they’ll *ever* teach homosexuality in school.”

    And that argument raged for more than 45 minutes until people were crying, drinks got spilled, tables and chairs got pushed, people stormed in and out, etc.

    Guess who was right?

    • Next up: Gun control. We had one of those holiday gathering arguments, too. Even better!

      Sex & Guns are even more reliably polarizing issues guaranteed to cause family holiday fights than economics and taxation, immigration, religion and patriotism.

    • Alex, I was solemnly informed today that the Biden-Harris administration has no plan to come for our guns. I was also told that this line of thinking has become extremely tiresome to decent people everywhere who don’t want to see people slaughtered en masse.
      I remain unconvinced

    • @SuperMike: Oh, #MeToo. I’m TOTALLY unconvinced. 5….4…3…2…1….

      Wait for it! The executive orders are coming any day now!

      Separately, who’da ever think that Joe Manchin, U.S. Senator from the second or third-poorest state in the USA and Undisputed King of “Survivor: Still on the Island!” would be quite possibly the the most powerful Senator in modern U.S. history?

  5. The CNN article about three dads above refers to polyamory not to polygamy.

    Polygamy and polyamory are very different. Polygamy has a historical basis, polyamory does not.

    Polygamy is literally multiple “poly” marriage “gamy”. Each marriage has the traditional two members. Using an example of plural wives, the most common mode, if the husband dies, the wives are now all widows. This is because the husband was a member of multiple marriages, one with each wife. The wives were not married to each other, only to the husband.

    In polyamory, there is only one marriage but with more than two members. Every individual is married to every other individual. In a polyamorous marriage, using an example of one husband and two wives, if the husband dies, the two wives remain married to each other. Since they are still married are they even widows?

    • Interesting distinction! Polyamory is a fully connected graph, whereas in polygamy there is a root node (the man) that all other vertices are connected to via a single edge. I wonder what other forms of graph structure the modern marriage will accommodate. Arbitrary spanning trees? A polyamorous relationship with some missing edges because some members have divorced from some others but the graph is still connected?

    • According to historic research that I read, in XIX – early XX centuries in Austria 40% of children were not legitimate. New thing is involving Uncle Sam into this. Add another node U. S. to it. An old Soviet joke – ripple bed called “Lenin among us.”

  6. Sad development. Clearly we are on the slippery slope. But will it still matter in 50 years?

  7. Polygamy normally takes the form of a single high earning man with multiple wives, rather than multiple underachieving men sharing a woman. Utah has always had it in the form of coparenting. Most relationships nowadays are between all the women in a community & a small number of high status men in the community who work their way through the entire field. Polygamy would just legalize the division of assets between a man & his multiple wives.

    • In Tibet and Nepalese highlands, where living is very tough, many men could not afford to support a wife and shared one instead, usually between brothers (polyandry)

  8. It’s an open secret that there is poligamy in US in Muslim and Mormon communities. I’m not sure why mainstream media got to it just now.

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