In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, opponents are going through the proper mourning stages: denial, outrage, and finally, doom saying.
Any time “the other party” wins at something, a third of the country gets on it’s high horse and lists what will happen next. Nuclear warfare, economic depression, or as in this happy case, the degradation of the family.
One really popular rallying cry is “now that gay marriage is legalized, polygamy is next!” And maybe in a radio-sound-byte sort of way, this makes sense. Gay marriage used to be semi-radical, and polygamy seems semi-radical, so maybe we can put them in the same box?
Unfortunately, this is way off the mark.
For starters, I think it’s important to point out that as a society, we’ve already dealt with polygamy. In the old testament, then briefly in the history of the Latter Day Saint Church (no disrespect), and by now it’s be relegated to a TLC show.
By and large, as a conscious society, we saw polygamy as unhealthy, misogynistic, and a logistical nightmare. There’s no thematic reasoning for us to return to that institution.
But besides the historical placement, there are tons of logical arguments too. For starters, marriage equality makes this simpler, polygamy makes things more complicated.
Prior to the legalization of gay marriage, there had to be small compromises and workarounds. The explosion of “civil union” statutes may have protected marriage, but it made this more complicated.
When marriage equality became the norm, the logistical burden lessened. We can use the same forms, the same laws, and a lot of the same social structure.
Polygamy is the opposite if anything. Have more than two spouses in a single marriage is a logistical nightmare. Do we have one form for a standard 2 person marriage, then a separate form for more than 2? Or do we need separate forms for 3, 4, 5 person marriages and on? Maybe we just have one form with several blank spaces that says “list spouses here”?
The point is, polygamy is complicated, marriage equality isn’t.
On top of that, check out that second word in marriage equality. That’s right, “equality.” The idea of allowing the same right of marriage to any two consenting adults was on the side of equality and consciousness.
Polygamy, as it has existed in the past, and is sure to exist if it is ever passed, is simply a vehicle for female marginalization and misogyny, not to mention ripping the family apart.
Maybe in a perfect world there is just as much of a chance of a woman with many husbands as there is of a man with many wives, but in the world we live in, the historically actuate picture of many wived-men is inevitable.
This of course leads to the objectification of spouses, and on an even more important level, “wife hogging” would drastically decrease peoples ability to get married. The statistics themselves would be horribly disadvantageous.
So there you have it, polygamy is not the next gay marriage, so stop saying that!
If you’d like more, there were great articles on Time and Politico that said similar things. Here’s the link to the Time article.