Seven Brides for Two Brothers

Marriage and Foolish Consistency

After the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Goodridge ruling, which created a right to same-sex “marriage,” critics, including me, warned that the next logical step was polygamy. Once you decided that marriage shouldn’t be limited to one man and one woman, there was no logically consistent reason to draw a line excluding polygamy.

Same-sex “marriage” advocates and their allies predictably labeled such arguments “fear-mongering” and “implausible.” Just as predicted, events are proving them wrong.

One man who thinks that the time has come to challenge the ban on polygamy is Tom Green. Three years ago, a Utah jury found him guilty of four counts of bigamy for being married to five women at the same time. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.

Green’s lawyers are preparing to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case. If the Court agrees to hear his appeal, it will have to revisit an 1878 decision which allowed the states to criminalize polygamy.

Even if you dismiss Green as a crank and believe that the Court won’t agree to hear his case, you are still left with growing support for Green and his position. Take this article written in USA Today on October 4. Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, called laws against polygamy “hypocritical.”

Turley notes that today “individuals have a recognized constitutional right to engage in any form of consensual sexual relationship with any number of partners.” They “can live with multiple partners” and “sire children from different partners.” The only thing is that, under the law, they can’t marry them all at the same time.

For Turley, “hypocrisy” is in our culture’s unwillingness to take that final step. Prejudice, not a coherent principle, lies behind the criminalization of polygamy. And so, he says, it’s up to the courts to protect “the least popular and least powerful,” like polygamists.

I could not disagree more with Turley, but that doesn’t stop me from admitting that, in many important respects, his argument is actually stronger than the one for same-sex “marriage.” After all, while same-sex “marriage” is unprecedented in human history, polygamy is both ancient and, until recently, widespread. While children are, at best, an afterthought in same-sex households, countless children have been successfully raised in polygamous households.

This makes it very likely that some judge somewhere is going to conclude that, as with same-sex “marriage,” the prohibition against polygamy is discrimination and, thus, unconstitutional. Cases like Goodridge and the Supreme Court’s Lawrencedecision have made traditional moral standards an unacceptable basis for legislation.

Some Christian conservatives, like Congressman Chris Cox (R-Calif.), who wrote a very publicized article in the Wall Street Journal, say that amending the Constitution is not a good idea. Please!

There is no other way to stop the deconstruction of marriage than to take the courts out of the equation. Turley is absolutely correct when he writes that the people will not vote to legalize polygamy any more than for same-sex “marriage.” Writing the principle, therefore, of “one man and one woman” into the Constitution is the onlyway to keep judges from stripping traditional marriage from the protection of law.


Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.