Polygamy a Slippery Slope to Killing Gays

Jim Burroway

February 18th, 2010

Opponents of same-sex marriage often claim that allowing marriage equality would be the first skid down the slippery slope to polygamy. Of course, there’s no evidence to support that assertion. In fact, quite the contrary. A Christian country that is considering the legal murder of gay people is going to the mat to protect marriage between one man and any number of wives:

The state (Uganda) on Thursday moved to protect the principal that a man can have more than one wife. The Attorney General\’s office has responded to a petition seeking to nullify the practice of polygamy by arguing that polgymay is protected by the Constitution under Article 37.

…But Attonery General Khiddu Makubuya stated in his response to the petition, that the law does not stop two consenting adults to choose the marriage of their choice. He said polygamy was protected under Article 37 of the Constitution which gives everyone the right “to belong, practice, enjoy, profess and promote any culture, tradition and religion of his or her own choice.”

Well, not just any culture, tradition and religion…

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.


February 18th, 2010

I am a big fan of Big Love on HBO and one thing that always confuses me about the right-wing “slippery slope” argument to polygamy is this: polygamy is completely and totally legal in this country. Granted, you cannot claim more than one legal spouse, but if you and your spouse decide to live polygamously, you are free to do so. We have recently discussed on this blog nonmonogamy among gay men, and the existence of “open” or “swinger” straight marriages. Well, polygamy is simply an open marriage where only one party, the man, is allowed to roam freely, with his legal spouse’s knowledge and consent. The law cannot prosecute the couple, as long as they do not try to legalize any of the subsequent relationships as marriage.

Of course, that leaves the multiple wives in the same position as gay or lesbian couples – completely without any legal protections (although at least they can prove paternity after having a child).

That’s actually why I support a legal framework for polygamy. It could not be the same legal framework as marriage, because of the number of parties involved in the relationship and the inherent complexities of working out property and financial issues if one or more of the relationships break off. In fact, each polygamous relationship would likely need a unique contractual relationship to deal with the myriad questions raised (e.g., are all the people married to each other, or is each woman individually married to the man;can one party dissolve the relationship or only their part of it; do all wives have equal shares in common property or is it based on seniority?)

And before any right-wing activist uses this as an “aha, the gays really want polygamy” moment, there is an even larger issue with the slippery slope argument. What is it about the current marriage laws that prevent the kind of multiple marriages favored by some breakaway religious sects? Certainly it is not the gender requirements, as polygamy traditionally involves only male/female sexual relationships. Rather, it is the number of parties involved, and their ability to consent to the marriage (which prevents underage marriages). Nothing in the equal marriage fight concerns itself with the number of parties involved in a marriage.


February 18th, 2010

And this has been debated in other blogs but in my opinion, what’s wrong with polygamy. The stereotypical representation of polygamy as being male-dominant, in a highly structured organization and in an ultra-conservative religious context, with old men impregnating under-aged girls, and abusing welfare… is not polygamy. It is only one variation of polygamy and a sensationalized version.

But, if a man wants to marry multiple adult (read: consenting) women and they enter into the relationship on their free will and the other wives are aware and fully accepting of the other partners in the relationship…what business is it of ours? Is it a cultural indoctrination that colors our prejudice?

If I decide to have two lesbians as roommates and I’m willing to pay for their wellbeing, it should be no skin off anyone’s ass. I’ll pay the same taxes as the guy next door. He probably has an easier time in filing his taxes and getting deductions for his quiver of kids. But as long as we are happy…my version of polygamy is just fine and dandy.

And we don’t need a fleet of mini-vans for our needs.

“Hecter Has Three Mommies” Find it soon on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.

Richard Rush

February 18th, 2010

I’m personally very familiar with a family were a woman had, in essence, two husbands (only one of them legal, of course). As a teenager/young-adult in the 1950s/1960s I visited their home many, many times. I know for a fact that the arrangement worked out very well for everyone, particularly for the several children who benefited very much by the presence of the second “husband.” After the death of the legal husband (in his 70s), the woman married the other. There was a lot of love in that family. They are now all deceased.

The so-called pro-family Christians don’t know or care about what really constitutes a family. I think they are empty shells where all authentic feelings and reasoning ability have been purged from them by relentless indoctrination. That’s why their words usually seem to be from a script, and attempts to include reasoning rarely makes sense. They live in a cocoon of Magic Truth.

Richard W. Fitch

February 18th, 2010

This tidbit from the most recent newsletter of Bishop John Shelby Spong: I am indebted to Butch Hancock, a musician with a group called “The Flatlanders,” for this bit of wisdom from West Texas: “Life in Lubbock, Texas taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”
I shared this on FB and felt to related to the subject here. So many literalists have a profound aversion to human sexuality yet seem to be the ones most intent about discussing and also practicing it with their passel of offspring.


February 18th, 2010

I gotta agree…

I know at least 3 homes with polygamous arrangements – one of them being a muslim version of polygamy involving 4 wives, the others traditional african versions of polygamy – 2 of them involve a guy, a ‘principle wife’ and a ‘junior wife’ and each wife living in a separate house. One dude ‘married’ so many wives, I dont know how many they were and I’m not sure anybody really knows.

I’ve seen how polygamy itself can become an underlying cause to so many marital problems – some of them very disturbing problems. But I am yet to meet any married people – polygamous or monogamous – who dont have any marital problems.

Whether by necessity or by nature of the arrangements or the flexibility of those involved, the polygamous married couples I know, despite the complexities of polygamy, seem to ‘make it work’ better than many monogamous married couples. Polygamy may not allow them to be as ‘happy’ or ‘peaceful’ as some monogamous married couples (I’m not suggesting that monogamous married couples are happy and peaceful!)… one dude has 2 wives that absolutely hate each other – age, the number of children mothered, and the sharing of resources seem to be a huge source of jealousy and hate. But they do their best to make things work and they do whatever it takes to stay married… just like many other monogamous married couples.

I think the success and or validity of any marriage, shouldnt be considered in gay-straight or polygamous-monogamous terms.

Nobody should be forced, coerced, tricked into or trapped in any marriage… everybody should be free to decide what works best for themselves, as long as they’re happy and not harming anybody.

Regan DuCasse

February 19th, 2010

In so many ways can this subject be discussed with a real understanding of the difference between capitulation and consent?
We are confronted with a VERY old arrangement between men and women. In part because females from the culture were trained to expect to live that way and accept it (usually persuaded by satisfying the culture/God) and not themselves.
Ancient as it is, we all know historically that women being considered autonomous in matrimony is a recent phenom. The words ‘obey’ were taken from the vows only a few decades ago.

It is a symptom of male entitled despotism that polygamy be accepted. Consent isn’t a matter for females in polygamous cultures for accepting the next wife.
It’s the MAN who chooses the next wife, not the both of them and the first wife is hard pressed to challenge or not accept it, right?

In the US, there are adults who have arranged themselves INFORMALLY around sharing spouses, perhaps sometimes even parenting duties, but what does that really mean for making claims to connection, family and property?
The children in the situation are forced to accept it, and as for their parents ‘making it work’, well, I have to wonder what all that WORK is for.

Why so much ‘work’?
Juggling so many relationships, scheduling time for needs to be met, directly and in a timely way doesn’t make for real intimacy, trust and growth.
I’ve read several books on polygamous families among Mormon sects and the competition for females is terribly fierce among the males. With so many women committed to ONE man, it leaves many singles with NO ONE.

And young boys, who are potential competition are forced from their families and communities.

I was single for a long, long time before I was married. And watching how the culture wants to force gays and lesbians into single status with NO romantic opportunities is exceptionally cruel, because finding a unique match in ANOTHER gay person is a rarer opportunity because of the minority status of gay folks.

But I have many black women friends, for example, and the field for eligible bachelors is very narrow. The ‘man sharing’ phenom among blacks has proven to be very difficult. It’s hard to get time with the man, for him to attend to his parenting duties. Black women have already been forced to culturally accept male entitled behavior and it’s been VERY costly, even deadly in the children left without attentive fathers, and HIV/AIDS infections.

To accept polygamy, is to accept less intimacy, less choice in who you’re sharing the property and your children will have less time with their father.
Poor polygamists have abused the welfare system and committed fraud in that regard. There was a terrible case in NYC where an African cab driver had two women living as his wives in a tenement flat in the Bronx. There were nine children between them.

Neither of the women worked, but accepted this arrangement because this is what their culture taught them to accept.
But their situation was poor, and the father of the children could barely provide for them all (materially or emotionally), and not very well at that.

Well, a fire broke out in their apartment and one of the women and six of the children were killed.
I can’t remember which of either family was actually LEGALLY attached to this man, or that the women even got along.

But we often see the wreckage regarding custody battles. Fights over child support.
Serial divorce and remarriage is polygamy and polyandry’s closest legal cousin, and few people who experience it, come away saying it’s been a wonderful experience and everyone should be encouraged to do it.
Or have the choice to do it.

History has had polygamy to inform us it’s really not something that is GOOD for society, even if there are individuals who say it’s good for THEM.

Monogamy, and the expectation of it and the encouragement of it, doesn’t show any demonstrable AVERSE affects on anyone, where polygamy essentially does.

I think the most averse issue being having to COMPETE for spouses, and having ONE being even less and less of an option when someone ELSE gets greedy for spouses.

Has anyone ever had the tinge of envy for people who are in a relationship, even married and here you are, single?
What if here you are single, and you know people taking on more and more spouses?

It’s bad enough that straight folks think that gay/straight marriages should be encouraged and regardless of the bad record for endurance, STILL encourage it?
Well, something equally tinged with that entitled attitude colors polygamy or even polyandry.

There is something especially GREEDY and SELFISH about collecting people like that, and leaving little for the rest.

Monogamy is far more egalitarian and fair, really. It increases the opportunities for others to have a spouse.
And as we all know, finding a loving, committed and enduring relationship in marriage is tough enough as it is.


February 19th, 2010

Not all polygamy involves one man with multiple women. Many societies have had arrangements of equal numbers (usually 2 or 3) of husbands and wives, all of whom would be recognized as parents of any children. (Though this was peculiar to hunter-gatherers where the men might be off for weeks and the women had to keep bearing.)
And please, that is principle. A principal is a school administrator or loaned money.

Priya Lynn

February 19th, 2010

Donnchadh, exceptions notwithstanding, most polygamous relationships involve one man and multiple women.


February 20th, 2010

Regan DuCasse:

Wow. Fairly passionate. Even entertaining. Thanks for sharing your views.

Although I dont agree with everything in your post, there was plenty of food for thought.

Thanks to you, I’m gonna have a hard time keeping my mouth shut in front of polygamists.


February 20th, 2010

Regan DuCasse:

Haven’t you heard similar arguments against gay marriage?

Here are some examples. These are definately not my views… they are irritating examples of how judging types of relationships that we dont fully understand can lead to insensitive statements and one-sided arguments. I dont claim to understand polygamy and the concept makes me uncomfortable, but I still think it’s a valid type of relationship as long as those involved are happily consenting adults who havent been forced, coerced, tricked into it and they arent trapped in it.

Here are those examples:

History has shown us that tolerance towards homosexuality and gay marriage arent really good things for society, despite what those pushing the gay agenda will have you believe. The Roman Empire, Ancient Greece… how many other ancient civilizations were ruined by homosexuality?

Why would anyone choose to be with a member of the same sex – gay couples face so much discrimination and hardship… why put in the extra effort to make it work when one could just be with a member of the opposite sex?

With regard to ‘spouse-hogging’… why is it that the hottest, funniest, most thoughtful, sensitive and eligible (sp?) bachelors are gay? What a waste of a potential spouse for members of the opposite sex and a wasted opportunity for a happy heterosexual marriage (did you ever consider that polygamists -male and female – might be as unhappy in a monogamous marriage as a homosexual in a heterosexual marriage?).

Polygamists mess things up coz every person under the sun deserves a spouse (including abusive people and those who choose to be single)… coz ‘that’s the way it should be’. And homosexuals mess things up coz everybody deserves a spouse and that spouse must be a member of the opposite sex… coz ‘that’s the way it should be’

Two women married to each other contribute to the scarcity of spouses for men (as though the desire to be in a gay or polygamous marriage can and should be transfered into a desire to be in a straight or monogamous marriage). These gay couples are interfering with the process of procreation, we would all be extint if our parents were gay and married members of the same sex, god made adam and eve… i think i’m going to be sick if i finish that sentence (just coz polygamy or gay marriage makes your skin crawl, doesnt mean it cant make some people happy).

We’ve all heard homophobes gleefully describing gay marriages gone wrong, using horror stories to certify the inherent evil of the ‘gay lifestyle’ and use that to explain why gay marriage is a non-starter.

Some cultures have unpleasant versions of polygamy, just as they have unpleasant versions of monogamy. Forced marriage isnt only a polygamist thing. Having little or no choice in getting married because of societal norms and pressures happens to men and women, gay and straight, polygamous and monogamous, single and divorced, black and white, all across the world… it’s life, not polygamy. In fact, some cultures (e.g. the Swazi, if I’m not mistaken) give the first or ‘primary wife’ the right to select or reject new/potential/prospective wives for their husband. I bet the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, didnt kidnap and force any of his wives into polygamy. Wouldnt know for sure though.

In polygamous marriages, just as in gay marriages, there may be variations to the ‘traditional gender roles’ that many of us have been taught to regard as ‘the norm’ by our society/culture. Relationships may not always make sense or even seem fair when viewed from the outside, but I’m not sure that every fourth wife (or gay husband for that matter) is as miserable and unfortunate as some would have us believe.

One of the polygamous guys I met was recently reported by one of his wives and was charged with neglect. There are happy and successful gay (and or polygamous) marriages, just as there are miserable and disastrous straight (and or monogamous) marriages… and vice versa. Sometimes polygamy itself is the root cause of marital problems, failed marriages, divorce etc… but we all know how unfair it is to be bunched up together and painted with the same brush based on sad examples of the types of relationships we choose.

~the cranberries – free to decide.mp3~


February 20th, 2010

Oh, and the kids… very important.

I think all types of relationships and marriages should be okay/valid provided there’s no force, coersion, trickery, traps involved… and the adults involved are happily in full consent… and _the kids_ get all the love and everything else that they need …and nobody is hurt.

Regan DuCasse

February 22nd, 2010

Anteros, I appreciate your comment, but it’s essentially an opinion looking for validation as if the polygamous situations you’re speaking of can reconcile on a BIGGER scale.

You’re bringing up Rome and Greece as VICTIMS of homosexual excess, and the reason for their downfall.
Are you KIDDING?
You cite THAT as a reasoned example of discouraging homosexuality and same sex marriage?

Rome fell because of the EXCESS reach of POWER. Enslaving many, MANY peoples, including Jews and the Greeks and the base of Christianity was placed there and in Spain. Religious excess and enforcement brought down that culture. Gays, then as now, were a consistent MINORITY within that culture.
Even if a consistently influential LEADER like Alexander the Great were gay, it’s not his being GAY that had anything to do with that influence, but that he was a determined conquerer, as were many OTHER men of those times.

And as for lesbians depriving a MAN of an opportunity for a wife?

Are you KIDDING?
Heterosexuals are anywhere between 85-90% of the population.
With a majority like this, and women outnumbering men by two in many cultures, it’s heterosexuals who take on gay people as spouses that deprive the minority GAY population of the opportunity to be with someone of THEIR SAME ORIENTATION.
Therefore a more compatible mate.

So you have several things very wrong.
As for this rationale for multiple spouses from your devil’s advocate POV, again, you’re not thinking of the importance of PRIMACY for the state’s interests in particular when it comes to simplifying and streamlining the laws.
Monogamy keeps already complicated human situations more linear and consistent.
Introducing more and more individuals into the mix, creates a soup beyond the capacity of those involved AND the state to maintain some semblance of order and fairness for each concerned.

You had to lay a lot of ‘IFS’ into the situation “if and so long as”…all the parties are agreed and happy to have that arrangement.
And that’s just the point anteros, not at ALL likely enough to justify multiple spouse marriages and the state to sanction it.

And I really wish people would look at the FACT that a gay COUPLE still remains within the established guides and laws of marriage without changing them drastically or to unrecognizable degrees.

AND taking gender and sexual orientation from the qualifiers allows for those who are ambiguous gender or trans gender to marry also.

As one can safely and rightfully argue, the issues of multiple spouses and incestuous situations call for a kind of predation, because the reason for the relationship in the first place will not have the same content later on.

Why have sons and daughters if they are to be considered as potential spouses for their parents or each other?

This is why, the KEY rules that TWO, CONSENTING, non related, non married adults marry for PRIMARY custody and support of each other should and can remain.
Whether it’s an op sex or same sex couple, they don’t change that fundamental constant whatsoever and don’t HAVE to.

But I certainly resent those who use discrimination against gay people to rationalize that NO OTHER rules can apply otherwise for other marriage arrangements.
That’s just plain wrong on it’s face and I explained to you why.

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