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Opening Arguments

Anything goes

Opponents of same-sex marriage who argued that abadoning the traditional one man-one woman definition would lead no standards at all were dimissed as reactionary, patriarchal homophobes. But now that gay marriage is but one Supreme Court decision away from being the law of the land, some are beginning to open that door. Here is Sally, Kohn, for example, wondering why polygamy should be any different:

Back in the early days of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement’s push for marriage equality, this slippery slope to polygamy was pragmatically taboo. After all, arguments about gay marriage leading to polygamy were lobbed almost entirely with the purpose of derailing the gay rights agenda. And there was also something inherently offensive about making the connection, along the same lines of suggesting that gay marriage would lead to people marrying goats. …

[P]olygamy, as it generally is practiced in the United States, is a predominantly heterosexual enterprise—like heterosexuality (or the male ideal of heterosexuality) on steroids. After all, while the percentage of married women who have affairs has risen in recent decades, married men still do most of the cheating. Conservatives concerned about the high rate of divorce in America should stop blaming gay marriage but instead heterosexual infidelity—a prime culprit in 55 percent of divorces.

If couples want to bring cheating out of the deceitful shadows and instead incorporate it openly into their relationship—plus have more hands on deck for kids and more earners in the household in a tough economy—who are we to judge?

Actually, I think something else will get the big push before out and out polygamy -- bisexual relationships. If a gay person can't be denied the right to marry because of his or her sexual orientation, shouldn't bisexuals get the same consideration? That, too, is a sexual orientation, right? If someone needs both a man and a woman for sexual fulfillment, how can we deny them the right to cement the relationships with a marriage vow? And even if you think you can limit marriage to two consenting adults, by what logic would you exclude brother and sister? You're not really going to make a religious argument at this point in the game, are you?

What is being sought here is not the permission of the larger society. We've become so latitudinarian about relationships that you can put yourself together in any combination whatsoever and never fear getting hassled over it, legally or otherwise. What is being sought is approval.

Kohn argues that the push toward polygamy doesn’t come directly from same-sex marriage, but “a general opening up of options,” which is true on one level, but somewhat dishonest. The “opening up of options” springs from disconnecting marriage from its traditional definition of one man, one woman relationships. That was what “open[ed] up the options,” from which springs any number of definitions — which has the effect of making marriage essentially meaningless, except as a revenue source for local governments.

[. . .]

Over the last few decades, and certainly since Lawrence, there were no laws preventing consenting adults to cohabitate in any particular fashion they chose, except for consanguinity issues (incest). Those adults had options for formalizing their relationships in private contracts, which the government could then enforce when necessary. That was actual choice, rather than a demand for government recognition and societal approval. Kohn wants the latter, based on the fact that we’ve already disconnected the definition of marriage from its basis in protecting the core model of family life and ensuring parental responsibility for offspring, especially for fathers of children. Again, this is the slippery slope that those opposed to redefining marriage have warned was approaching all along. (It’s also the reason that some of us argued that the proper response was to get government out of the marriage business altogether.)

(via Hot Air)