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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Homosexuality Doesn’t Lead to Polygamy After All.

posted by on August 30 at 0:05 AM

Fundies often argue that it’s a slippery slope from gay rights (marriage, adoption) to polygamy and bestiality.

That doesn’t appear to be the case in the 10 Circuit Court of Appeals. Indeed, a few weeks ago I Slogged about a 10th Circuit decision that a-okayed the rights of gay parents who adopt.

Well, that same 10th circuit ruled today that polygamy is not legitimate.

Frankly, I’ve never understood the problem with legalizing polygamy. Especially for fundies.

If they’re so hell bent on religious freedom and keeping the secular state from picking on religion, shouldn’t they support Mormon rights?

As for us lefties: Don’t we think the 14th Amendment means any consenting adult should be able to marry any other consenting adult?

Either way, those activist judges shut down the polygamists.

RSS icon Comments


The only potential problem I see with polygamous marriages would arise in legal proceedings, with custody and inheritance and such. Of course, we could just up the Estate tax to 100% and solve part of that right away.

I'd be all for polygamist marriages myself, if I didn't think marriage itself should be completely abolished.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | August 30, 2007 12:21 AM

I wonder how those guys can even put polygamy and gay relationships in the same ballpark as bestiality, it's totally not the same issue. It's like they don't think about what makes something wrong but just go for blanket 'all this is wrong so if you start doing wrong stuff, you'll eventually end up allowing everything wrong'
Also, is there a different term for a woman with multiple husbands?

Posted by arandomdude | August 30, 2007 1:03 AM

I don't really see what the huge deal is, apart from some potentially complicated legal issues as #1 mentioned. Other than that, if people still want to practice polygamy, go right ahead. I know tons of polyamorous couples who manage multiple partners responsibly and would love to be able to legally recognise their relationships.

Oh, and I don't think there's a diff. term for females, bigamist works for both, #2.

Posted by Victoria | August 30, 2007 2:33 AM

Argh, meant to say bigamist/polygamist. >.

Posted by Victoria | August 30, 2007 2:34 AM

Nor does it lead to spelling "Polygamy" right in the headline of the article.

Posted by John | August 30, 2007 2:39 AM

Mormons are not polygamists. Polygamy has been against church doctrine, and the word of God, for over a hundred years. Associating Mormons with polygamy doesn't make any more sense than associating Episcopalians with slavery.

And the real-world issue with polygamy is the abuse of women and minors, or both. Polygamy as it is actually practiced does not resemble polyamory in the slightest; it's more like conscripted labor and post-natal abortion at the age of puberty.

Posted by Fnarf | August 30, 2007 4:57 AM

"Polygamy" is neutral in respect to gender. (from old greek poly, meaning many, and gamos, meaning marriage)
"Polygyny" means one man and several women. (from old greek gyne, meaning woman)
"Polyandry" means one woman and several men. (from old greek andros, meaning man)

Posted by pwa | August 30, 2007 5:28 AM

I wonder what poygamy is. It sounds like a type of koi fish...

Posted by Kristin Bell | August 30, 2007 5:35 AM

Polygamy is explain to me by ardent Fela Kuti fan. He say, from booth at Berkeley flea market, Polygamy is for many wife of Fela Kuti to do many things. One to cook, one to be good mother, one for sex, one for singing, one for clean, one for farm, one for clothes make, and on and on. Polygamy is good for our nation. We are example of international relations and polyrhythms for world. Welcome to fantasy island. Even Josh Feit can get little pee pee suck.

Posted by burnout | August 30, 2007 5:48 AM

As long as 13 & 14 year old girls aren't being sold into slavery, and the polygamists getting married are all consenting adults and stuff...I'm all for it.

Posted by JessB | August 30, 2007 6:30 AM

The real world difference is consent. In the abstract, sure, if a number of people greater than two want to be married, who should care? But this is far far far from reality. As fnarf so eloquently points out, real polygamy is about 48 year old "prophets" fucking 15 year olds girls that aren't allowed to go to school.

Posted by Mike in MO | August 30, 2007 6:33 AM
12 back on the scene, right-o. now is polygamy akin to schizophrenia? the whole multiple thing ya know. i get confused, reading about the variances of diagnostics via DSM-1V or some such compendium. what is it like for you???? now!!! on slog???? are you feeling a bit *coy* ;)?

As for my opinionated ratskull, it spits forth hullabaloo on your filler, filler, filler lostheaded airbrain Feit-izmz. You are so...(hold on a sec)

"Yes!! Get Out The Door Bitch! I'm On Computer Time!! And Don't Be Late Next Week!! I Have Lots Of Women Coming By In Between!! You Have To Fight! For Your Right!! To Party!!!!!! With Me! You MAY!! Get Invited To The Gang Bang On Groot Day!! Now Out!!"

sorry about that, where was I? ooooooh, the Bike Park Cal Anderson thing?? How Was it staffers? It was pretty good on my end. I'll show you my memorties if you show me yours? BOAT BOAT BOAT!!!!

Posted by Garrett | August 30, 2007 6:44 AM

my problem with polygamy is that I'm already jealous of the macs that get 6 hot wives.

But in seriousness, Fnarf and Mike, can you explain how "in the real world" polygamy is abuse of women and minors? I'm not saying I disagree, its just that you throw statements out like that as though it were common knowledge. Are you saying that polygamy, implemented now in the U.S. with appropriate child labor laws and consent all around, would still and with certainty bring about slavery and abuse??

Posted by Jude Fawley | August 30, 2007 6:57 AM

Forgot to say: If yes, on what basis?

Posted by Jude Fawley | August 30, 2007 6:58 AM

Meanwhile: a great story for our side:

First Lesbian Couple Legally Adopt Kids in CO as a state-sanctioned COUPLE
"People say, well, they need a mother and a father ... They had a mother and a father and they abused them."

Posted by | August 30, 2007 7:16 AM

Polygamy just wouldn't work from a practical/monetary perspective. It could break the system. Is it really fair for some guy in the USA getting citizenship for 20 wives from some Third World country while others wait? Social Security survivor benefits? Heathcare is already broken, do we think insurance companies will give benefits to four spouses plus children? Philosophically I'm neutral on the issue, but in terms of modern Western legal rights and privileges it wouldn't work.

Homosexuals are less than 10% of the population, and fewer than that even want to marry. Its not a issue of flooding the system whatsoever or even really changing the system in any fundamental way. Merely allowing a small minority to get their small piece of the rights and benefits already afforded the majority: one spouse and the benefits therein.

Posted by Jason | August 30, 2007 8:05 AM

Fundies do not consider Mormons Christian. They consider them a cult.

Posted by Just Me | August 30, 2007 8:22 AM

The reason we work so hard for gay marriage is to obtain vital legal rights. We choose one person who gets to make decisions for us in our stead if we're incapacitated, one person who gains automatic inheritance if no instructions are left, one person to pull the plug. Polygamy ultimately complicates this to a ridiculous degree. Does the first wife get to decide? Do they take a vote? Does it have to be a 3/4 majority? Unanimous? If all the wives are equal before the law, why does one wife have more right to her biological children than any of the others? How does community property work? These are just the obvious questions, and they're a quagmire that gets resolved in polygamous societies with one answer: male dominance. When the husband dies, the mother essentially becomes the property of her sons, treated like a child in all legal senses. Gays are asking to be let into an existing, workable, and fair institution. Polygamists are asking for the transformation of that institution into something entirely different.

Posted by Gitai | August 30, 2007 8:22 AM

"Philosophically I'm neutral on the issue, but in terms of modern Western legal rights and privileges it wouldn't work."

Agreed. I could see huge groups of people getting married to share health insurance benefits, and I'm not sure how that would all pencil out. If we had universal health care, on the other hand. And things could get complicated upon divorce in a marriage where a man earned the income and then took on many wives -- it would be much harder to split the child support and alimony fairly among a large group of people, with different wives having invested different amounts of time in the marriage.

However, I could also see legalization of polygamous marriage actually helping some of the girls who are being forced into it. If elders in those weird Utah sects were allowed to and agreed to make all their marriages legal, then at least those girls would have some legal rights. Maybe the fundie LDSers would even wait until the girls were of actual legal marriage age before consecrating their unions or whatever.

But I doubt that the crazies would even want to really get married. It seems like that would make it much harder for them to reassign wives when dudes pissed off the leaders.

Who knows. I can't even figure out what's going on with Big Love. Is Bill in the clear with the gambling thing, or does Albie have some right to it now that he's head of UEB?

Posted by I hope we haven't seen the last of harry dean stanton either | August 30, 2007 8:26 AM

It's kind of like the old saying, if you outlaw guns only outlaws will own guns.

Right now polygamy is illegal. As such, everyone who practices it is breaking the law. Therefore, why concern yourself with the legal issues like age of consent. You're already an outlaw, what's one more crime?

Also, keeping polygamy illegal helps hinder the ability to report the truly evil things that go in those communities. Lets say a crazy ass preacher tells a family that their 14 year old daughter must be married off. If the family is practicing polygamy, it's hard for them to go to the police as they are already criminals.

Outlawing polygamy outright, may cause or at least magnify many of the problems that people associate with polygamy. Would allowing polygamy be better? I don't have the answer, but it's a discussion worth having.

On the plus side, it would be funny to see what the Mormons would do if it was suddenly legal again.

Posted by Andrew | August 30, 2007 8:33 AM

Fnarf @6:
Polygamy has no more to do with pedophilia and child abuse than does homosexuality.

And the laws against polygamy are just as biggoted and senseless as those against gay marriage.

The same basic right is at stake - the right of consenting adults to configure themselves however they'd like.

Posted by Sean | August 30, 2007 9:01 AM

sean: What color is the sky on your planet? Polygamy as practiced now is millions of miles from consenting adults. Unless you consider an illiterate 15 year old girl capable of cansenting.

Posted by Mike in MO | August 30, 2007 9:06 AM

I wholeheartedly agree that the picture Fnarf paints, of creepy middle aged men forcing marriage on multiple teenage girls and essentially keeping them as sex slaves should not be legal.

On the other hand, I recall reading recently in the Stranger about Mistress Matisse and her two, um, partners(?).

I know it would be complicated, but I don't see any reason why Mistress Matisse and her two guys shouldn't be able to be husbands and wife if that is what they wanted (she gives no indication that she wants this; it was just the only recent example I could find of a healthy poly relationship). It really doesn't seem all that different than what gay couples are looking for. A gay couple is already in a relationship. They are seeking marriage to gain legal rights and public recognition of their relationship. Likewise, Mistress Matisse is already in a relationship with two guys, all consenting adults. Marriage would allow them legal rights and public recognition of their relationship.

Certainly it is much easier to allow gays to get married. The legal structure would be exactly the same as hetero marriage. Because you'd have 3 or more adults involved in a poly marriage, it would be much more complex, from a legal standpoint. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be allowed.

Current hetero marriage laws do not allow creepy middle aged men to force marry teenage girls as sex slaves. I see no reason why poly marriage laws would be any different. If consenting adults were allowed to poly marry, then it would still be illegal for old men to marry multiple teenage girls. The age of consent wouldn't change, nor the age one can legally marry. This argument is a bit of a red herring.

Likewise, current law makes it illegal to enter into a sham hetero marriage for the sole purpose of getting them citizenship. That's fraud. It would be no less fraudulent for some guy to marry 5 foreigners for the sole purpose of getting them citizenship, even if poly marriage were legal. Another red herring argument.

Health insurance is also a red herring. Adding more people to a health insurance policy is not free. Health insurance for a married couple is more expensive than it is for a single person. Health insurance for a couple with 3 kids is more expensive than for a couple with no kids. This is true whether buying insurance independently or whether a company is paying for it as an employee benefit (you are probably just unaware of it if your company is paying it). So there would be no financial incentive for a group of people to get married to share health care benefits. It wouldn't save them any money. And if we had universal health care like every other civilized country on earth, then this point would be completely moot.

Other than the fact that poly marriage squigs a lot of people out, I haven't heard any real rational arguments why it shouldn't be legal.

Posted by SDA in SEA | August 30, 2007 9:08 AM

"Mormons are not polygamists. Polygamy has been against church doctrine, and the word of God, for over a hundred years."

Bullshit. Bull-fucking-shit. Doctrines and Covenants 132 is still in place, though "temporarily" suspended. The whole thing was political expediency, anyway, since the LDS leadership continued to practice (and quietly encourage) plural marriage long after they officially renounced the practice.

In other words: take your LDS Mind Tricks (remember "White and Delightsome"?) somewhere else. Some of us actually know the history.

Posted by John D. Lee | August 30, 2007 9:33 AM

For 100s of years, priests have been practicing their own special brand of homosexuality with young boys. That doesn't preclude consenting adults from engaging in the practice as well, does it?

And on my planet, the primary practictioners of polygamy are/were indiginous people, including many of the Native American tribes of the Northwest. Are you suggesting those people are savages?

Also on my planet, or at least my country - most of the teenage girls who marry older men do so monogamously.

Posted by Sean | August 30, 2007 9:40 AM

P.S. I guess no one on Slog watches "Big Love"?

Great show with a strong message in favor of sexual rights that's packaged in a way that conservatives might find convincing.

Posted by Sean | August 30, 2007 9:47 AM

SDA in SEA @ 23 said it much better than I could. I entirely agree.

Posted by Phelix | August 30, 2007 9:52 AM

funny how the argument is "we should make it illegal to do A because some people that do it also do B." There's to many silly analogies to even pick one.

...and John, Mormon leadership has been quite clear that practicing polygamy is grounds for excommunication.

Posted by Robbie Bosco | August 30, 2007 9:52 AM

I think anyway you look at it, it's a mess. Having polygamy legal or illegal won't legitamize extramarital affairs and the children from these affairs. Won't ease the bureacracy when dealing with a mom who with many children all with different fathers. Or Chris Henry, the running back from Denver who HAS 9 KIDS with 9 DIFFERENT WOMEN and pays the child support for the all of them. Well ... good for him. He's paying up and being good about it (with plenty of no comments to the media ... I also marvel the Tom Brady the whitest white bread quarterback behind payton manning gets sucked into baby mamma drama). I'm just not exactly sure where marriage is going to end up in this country, or even if it really matters anymore. Other than inheritance, seeing your significant other on their death bed, and pulling the plug, there are many other equivelents out there. And then there is polygamy as it's practiced, which is pretty much sexual slavery. Whereas, the "triples" who like their nontraditional relationship don't ever seem to seek a marraige license.

The courts are PLUGGED with all sorts of family law issues ... it's insanity and that is more of a burden to society than anything else with or without gay marriage.

Posted by OR Matt | August 30, 2007 9:56 AM

As a dual citizen of Canada and the US I have just one thing to say about Mormon polygamists.



Look, marriage is a sacred civil registry between a man and a woman, or a woman and a man, or a man and a man, or a woman and a man, or if you're in Quebec a 14 yo girl and a 72 yo man.

But seriously, folks, this Mitt R stuff is just perv.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 30, 2007 10:09 AM

Gitai @18 took the words right out of my mouth. Particularly because of the legal issues, it's absolutely impossible for polygamy to work unless one spouse, usually the man, completely dominates all the other spouses. For example, many polygamist societies give complete custody of children to the husband. All or most inheritance goes to male members of the family. If divorce is allowed, it's only at the behest of the husband. I'm not aware of a single polygamist society that doesn't subjugate women, and that's not a coincidence.

All in all, I find it extremely insulting to lump same sex marriage in with polygamy.


The argument that teenage girls could be abused is absolutely not a red herring. Teenage girls can marry older men, with the consent of their parents. If the prophet tells a girl's parents that she must marry him, they're not going to refuse and she's not going to refuse. Of course, she's just a kid and isn't even capable of giving true consent. At least now, polygamy is completely illegal so when the rare prosecutor or attorney general decides to crack down on that garbage, it is actually possible to do so.

I think you're misinterpreting the immigration issue. I think Jason @16 is making the point that it's unfair to let one jackass import several foreign wives when so many other people have such a hard time immigrating here legally. That's a completely fair argument.

Putting a spouse or child onto a health care plan isn't nearly as expensive as purchasing two separate plans.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 30, 2007 10:10 AM

oops. sorry i meant a woman and a woman in my next to last group.

my bad.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 30, 2007 10:12 AM

One last thing (sorry, this topic fascinates me, and I've always wondered why it hasn't gotten more coverage in Savage Love or Control Tower).

With the advent of women's rights and birth control, the assumption that polygamy == patriarchy is wrong. When you remove the old oppressive institutions from the heterosexual economy and just let supply and demand do its thing, women clearly have the upper hand. (I suspect that's why the oppressive institutions exist to begin with.) Women, not men, choose the nature and terms of a sexual relationship.

Polygamy in a progressive social context would look a lot more like Mistress Matisse than Roman Grant.

Posted by Sean | August 30, 2007 10:17 AM

Since I haven't seen it mentioned here, anyone interested in learning the history of mormon polygamy and current practices of "fundamentalist" mormons (including what fnarf has mentioned about adolescent girls as sex slaves) should read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.

While reading it, two mormon missionaries stopped by my home- after two hours talking about Mormon history, THEY had to break off the conversation!

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | August 30, 2007 10:25 AM

@31: "All in all, I find it extremely insulting to lump same sex marriage in with polygamy."

Hmm, where have I heard this before?

Oh yeah, from homophobic asswhipes like Ken Hutcherson who feel insulted whenever homophobia is compared with racism.

So much for principles. At heart, human beings, even the gay ones, are just self-interested, biggoted hypocrites.

Posted by Sean | August 30, 2007 10:29 AM


Women have the upper hand when you are young and in your teens and in you are in your 20's. Then nature, society, everything does this total role reversal as you approach your 30's where women want men more than men want women (episode one of sex and the city).

It's best not to think about it, because you will wind up with a deep arrogance and any mistrust of any woman that throws themselves at you when you approach your 30's when she never seemed to care before. The only thing that changed about you is a few more hairs on your back, and complete and total detachment.

Yeah, totally off topic, do yourself a favor and don't think of men and womens sexuality as a conflict of power.

What I guess I wonder is "normal" for human sexuality in the natural state, how do we try to make it work in our society.

Posted by Total tangent | August 30, 2007 10:37 AM

Lots of people freaking out over the Mormon model of polygamy: creepy old guy using his power as a religious elder to force marry multiple teenage girls, using them as sex slaves or indentured servants. I get that. I totally agree and would NOT want to see that legal. Ew.

But you are using a worst possible case example to argue that no polyamorous people should be allowed any sort of legally recognized union. Although rare, there are perfectly healthy poly relationships that do not subjugate women. Mistress Matisse is one obvious example to the SLOG community. A poly relationship does not have to be one creepy old Mormon guy and a passel of unwilling teenage wives. Mistress Matisse's arrangement is one woman and two men. It could be three women. Or three men. While there are certainly unhealthy examples, there is nothing inherently unhealthy about the general concept.

A creepy old Mormon guy with 3 teenage wives is an example of a very unhealthy poly relationship. But there are no shortage of unhealthy hetero couple relationships, and nobody is advocating to criminalize hetero couples. There are good healthy couple relationships and bad couple relationships (gay or straight). There are good healthy poly relationships, and bad poly relationships.

If our society decided that Mistress Matisse should be allowed to marry her two fellas, surely a handful of clever lawyers and legislators should be able to figure out a way to make that work within the legal system, while still keeping creepy Mormon elders from force marrying every teenager in sight.

Posted by SDA in SEA | August 30, 2007 11:10 AM

If you don't condemn homosexuality then you are endorsing NAMBLA. And if you don't condemn polygamy then you are obviously endorsing child abuse, sex slavery, and apparently illiteracy.

Posted by wringing | August 30, 2007 12:53 PM


Oh bullshit.

At the moment, same sex couples are being denied a basic right that hets enjoy -- the right to marry a person who you love. Straight polyamorists have that right, they simply have to make the completely reasonable decision that everyone else must make -- to choose one person with whom to make a legal commitment.

My understanding of most polyamorists is that they'll have one primary partner (to whom they may already be married) and any number of secondary partners (who aren't as important in terms of love, time and commitment). Is the government supposed to codify those kinds of relationships into law?

Posted by keshmeshi | August 30, 2007 1:29 PM

The real problem, to my mind, is conflating the personal/spiritual/religious/whatever bond that is MARRIAGE with the legal, state-sanctioned entity that carries with it all manner of implicit and explicit rights, such as inheritance, tax status, power of attorney, etc. They are two completely different things, and I have never understood why the government is involved in MARRIAGE at all. The government should be empowered only to authorize the legal, civil bond which carries all the various rights. I see no problem with limiting that to two consenting adults and no more; as has been pointed out elsewhere, it complicates the legal status immensely to add more partners to the civil union.

There are those who would be freaked if, say, a brother and sister entered this sort of partnership, but in my mind, this type of union would not necessarily be assumed to be a sexual partnership for the purposes of procreation; the civil union would exist solely to provide a defined legal status for the partnership.

On the other hand, marriage is a very personal thing and the state has no business at all being involved in it. Who you choose to form a bond with should be something codified and governed by whatever religious or spiritual tradition you choose to sanction the union. That means that there is no earthly reason why, marriage being separated from the legal entity of civil union, that polyamorous persons could not form bonds of marriage with multiple partners.

This status, minus the actual legal protections, exists in very real form today. Some of you are a trifle naive about the polyamorous community; there are a whole hell of a lot of multiple marriages and partnerings out there today. They just have to keep a fairly low profile about it, especially when there are children involved, as many folks take a dim view of polyamory. I guarantee you some of your acquaintances or neighbors are poly today.

Posted by Geni | August 30, 2007 1:44 PM

keshmeshi @39:

The analogy is simple, Keshmeshi. Polyamorous people (whether gay or straight) are being denied the basic right to marry whom they choose. Why? For the same stupid reasons that gay people aren't allowed to marry each other today, or that black people weren't allowed to marry whites not so long ago -- bigotry, ignorance, the bible tells me so, it violates the "natural order", concern that allowing this sort of thing might precipitate the fall western civilization, judging an entire group based on the questionable actions of a few, and on and on we go through the familiar list of conservative rationalizations.

Civil rights in general, and sexual rights in particular, are not just for gay people.

Posted by Sean | August 30, 2007 1:58 PM

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