Bravo!Polygamy and DOMA
By mark goldfeder
Published: May 11, 2013 01:01AM
Updated: May 11, 2013 01:01AM
While the Supreme Court ponders the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, activists along the political spectrum are voicing their opinions on monogamy’s core institution and whom it should include. Most miss the following point: DOMA doesn’t just prohibit gay marriage by defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It also prohibits plural marriage by limiting it to one and one.
The plural marriage movement is real. An estimated 50,000 to 150,000 polygamous families already live in America, from the well-publicized Muslims and Mormons to the African and Vietnamese immigrants keeping up their cultural ways. From modern feminists looking for a better work/life balance, to family traditionalists, who maintain that any marriage is better than none in the fight against the rising tide of single parents, cohabitation, and divorce.
Over 500,000 others identify as polyamorous, and engage in “ethical non-monogamy”— loving, committed, concurrent, consensual relationships with multiple partners.
The push for non-monogamous marriage reveals some unexpected bedfellows: Everyone from former presidents to the remarried elderly couple next door. Experts say that 30 to 60 percent of married people in the U.S. will commit adultery over the course of their ‘exclusive, dyadic relationships,’ producing a form of de facto polygamy. Thousands of others will actually marry a second, sometimes even a third person, albeit after a legal divorce from their original spouse.
The rise of no-fault divorce has made “polygamy on the installment plan” more and more common for adults of all ages. Whether it’s de facto polygamy in the form of adultery, or serial polygamy with no-fault divorce, we as Americans have already broken the sanctity of the “couple.”
While some believe that plural marriage could lead to harm against women, regulation would protect them. And what about egalitarian polygamy, based on adult consent? Is it inherently abusive? Or more abusive than many “traditional” marriages based on patriarchal domination?
If the concern were third-party harms against children, why would these kids be any different than the thousands who already grow up with more than two parents in their lives? Forget stepparents, open-adoptions, extended familial networks, and other “classic” multi-parental settings. In cases of egg donors and surrogate mothers, courts have ruled that children can have three natural parents. Maybe more is even better; recent studies indicate that children in polyamorous households benefit from increased attention and diversity of role models.
Those who would argue against plural marriage have their work cut out for them. The Bible records at least 40 instances of the practice. Confucianism, Islam, Hinduism, and some forms of Mormonism also support it. While Catholicism bans it, other forms of Christianity are somewhat less opposed.
Plural marriage is legal in more than 150 countries, with an estimated 2 billion practitioners and 3 billion supporters. Anthropologists believe that it was the norm through most of human history, until the sixth century Christian influence of the Roman Emperor Justinian. As a North American value, plural marriage is older than monogamy. According to one study of Native American tribes, a full 84 percent of them practiced it.
And now the posts will roll in:
Rose_NoHo- "Polygamy is not an equal rights issue. It just isn't."
Big D- "You are not out in your wheelchair gathering signatures so you're not allowed to talk about polygamy. Which has no support anyway. Because polygamists are criminals using polygamy to commit their crimes."
Wait for all the dopey jackasses to hit you with the same dumb arguments used against SSM, Wait for them to fail to see the irony. You know the drill.