Notes From Babel

Is Gay Marriage a Slippery Slope to Polygamy?

with one comment

There is some great discussion on this question at Positive Liberty. In my opinion, commenter Braxton Thomason gets the better of the argument. If marriage is opened up to be merely the recognition of a romantic relationship of consensual adults, it will be tough-going to find a principled exception to polygamy. Once we have a few more TV shows like Big Love, it might not sound so exotic and weird. At that point, anecdotal arguments against polygamy will no longer be persuasive, and we’ll start demanding some hard empirical data, just like we do now in the debate over same sex marriage.

In 20 years, Jason Kuznicki’s arguments might subject him to the kinds of accusations of bigotry that SSM opponents incur today. Just like 20 years ago, one could probably win an argument against gay marriage by suggesting the “absurd” scenario of two men raising a baby. It goes to show that, until the minority group in question has reached a critical mass (e.g., once we can all point to a friend or family member who is a member of that group, thus stirring up some empathy), we don’t need very strong arguments to justify discriminatory attitudes towards that group.

Thus, if you’re pro SSM but anti polygamy, ask yourself whether the arguments against polygamy would hold up if you knew some really devoted polyamorous people who were really sweet and otherwise normal and just wanted to live their lives and overcome struggles without all the highfalutin rhetoric from people who have no business imposing their values on them. If you’re a consistent libertarian, I think you’d have to dismiss the idea of making an exception, and hold that marriage must embrace polygamy. If you can’t get over that there’s something just wrong about it, well, you might soon be the target of a “you might be a redneck if…” joke.

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Written by Tim Kowal

June 2, 2009 at 5:15 am

Posted in Gay Marriage

One Response

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  1. […] the number of marriage participants without any particular reason (as I’ve explained here, here, and here).  The so-called traditional definition of marriage is concededly arbitrary.  But so […]


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