Many of us have been saying for some time that the normalization of homosexual marriage will inevitably open the door to the state’s acceptance of polygamy. Proponents of gay marriage typically scoff and say we’re silly for making such a slippery slope argument. Well, not anymore.
In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Jonathan Turley argues that the same civil liberties that enable homosexuals to marry must also allow for polygamous relationships. He’s right.
If framed in terms of rights and freedoms, then of course homosexuals and polygamists have the right to freely marry however many of whichever gender they choose. A polygamist man would be free to marry two men and three women if he chose and they were agreeable.
But what if the debate is not really about rights and freedoms but about nature? If marriage is by nature the covenantal union between one man and one woman, then though homosexuals and polygamists may have the right to marry whomever they want, they lack the ability to pull it off. They and the state may call what they have a marriage, but in fact it isn’t. We can change our language and our laws but we can’t change nature. It is what it is.
This weekend, as supporters celebrate the 764 homosexual marriages that will occur in New York, I hope they remember to speak out for the alleged thousands of polygamists in this country who are still denied that right. Their cries for justice may shock and offend some, but it will be completely consistent with what they have argued for all along. If supporters of gay marriage refuse to take a stand, if they claim that they should be allowed a right that they deny to polygamists, then they are doing to polygamists what they claim conservative Christians have done to them.
So here is the choice: either marriage is between one man and one woman or we go all the way to polygamy. Stopping off somewhere in the middle, such as with gay marriage, smells like hypocrisy.