But occasionally one does come across an argument for gay "marriage" but against polygamous "marriage." Here is one such argument.
Some excerpts with commentary interpolated:
[T]his non sequitur just won't go away: "Once we stop limiting marriage to male-plus-female, we'll have to stop limiting it at all! Why only two? Why not three or four? Why not marriage to your brother? Or your dog? Or a toaster?" If there's a bloody shirt to wave in the gay-marriage debate, this is it.Paraphrase: "You want to know why we should mandate that gay marriage be legal in all the states but not polygamy? You want to know why? Stop asking that question!! SHUT UP!"
The shortest answer is in some ways the best: Please stop changing the subject! When you straights give yourselves the right to marry two people or your brother or your dog or a toaster, we gay people should get that right, too. Until then, kindly be serious.
This is not looking good....
Unlike gay marriage, polygamy is not a new idea. It's a standard form of marriage, dating back, of course, to Biblical times and before, and anthropologists say that 85 percent of human societies have permitted it. This means we know a thing or two about it.
This is priceless. Gay "marriage," we're told, is a fundamental right. Justice Kennedy tells us wonderful things about the institution and ignores all of the actual and potential problems. But in reality, gay "marriage" is a novel invention--a progressive experiment which has never been tried on this scale before. Therefore, it's immune to criticism. (One can't help but be reminded of John Stuart Mill's casual dismissal of traditions in favor of experiments in living.) But let us move on to the heart of the argument.
Here's the problem with it: when a high-status man takes two wives (and one man taking many wives, or polygyny, is almost invariably the real-world pattern), a lower-status man gets no wife. If the high-status man takes three wives, two lower-status men get no wives. And so on.
This competitive, zero-sum dynamic sets off a competition among high-status men to hoard marriage opportunities, which leaves lower-status men out in the cold. Those men, denied access to life's most stabilizing and civilizing institution, are unfairly disadvantaged and often turn to behaviors like crime and violence. The situation is not good for women, either, because it places them in competition with other wives and can reduce them all to satellites of the man.First a (rhetorical) question: are the men in polygamous relationships in Utah "high-status" men? (??) Second, Rauch is confusing polygyny with polygamy. The solution in a society of (let's say) six people (three men/three women) is to also allow (celebrate?) polyandry. If one man is married to two women, one "high status" woman can marry two "low status" men. Everyone, then, is "married." Third, low status men are already at a disadvantage; is Rauch thereby going to promote arranged marriages as the cure? I have my doubts. Fourth, his slippery slope is dubious. Or is it? Why not think--as is claimed with respect to gay "marriage"--that part of the problem is that these relationships are often not legal, they are frowned upon, and they aren't celebrated?
Here’s a 2012 study, for example, that discovered “significantly higher levels of rape, kidnapping, murder, assault robbery and fraud in polygynous cultures.” According to the research, “monogamy's main cultural evolutionary advantage over polygyny is the more egalitarian distribution of women, which reduces male competition and social problems.”
The study found that monogamous marriage “results in significant improvements in child welfare, including lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death, homicide and intra-household conflict.” And: “by shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, institutionalized monogamy increases long-term planning, economic productivity, savings and child investment.”
There’s more, but you get the idea.Yes, there is more. There is the study which shows some of the serious problems with same-sex parenting (aside from the spiritual corruption). Of course, this study was raked over the coals again and again. And we know why. The single problem with the study, since it was random, was finding a large sample of same-sex couples who stayed together for a long period of time to compare with heterosexual couples. The "problem," of course, is that same-sex relationships are notoriously unstable--and this instability is not for which one should control in the study. (You will find countless apologetic articles from social scientists contradicting this, but try to find one that does not seriously suffer from selection bias or other egregiously sophistical methods.) But would "marriage" help that stability? I suspect that most of the gay couples who get "married" are already in a more stable relationship than those who do not get married, and the divorce rate might similar to heterosexual couples (but I haven't looked into this statistic). But fewer homosexuals are inclined to "marry". After all, once one rejects the view that marriage is a life long commitment between a man and a woman, and one holds (as most do) that divorce and remarriage are one option among others, the reasons for staying together are as mutable as one's changing feelings for the other partner.
And once again, the author ignores polyandry. Let's suppose that there are indeed more inherent problems with polygyny than gay "marriage" (the problems need to be inherent otherwise the argument rests on accidental causal factors which can be removed); that still leaves open the legality of polyandry.
Next, a point of law: In order to stand up in court, a challenged law normally needs only to survive what's called a rational-basis test. That's a low bar: the government merely needs to be able to claim that its law is rationally related to a legitimate government purpose.
The trouble that gay-marriage opponents kept running into was that they could not surmount this very low bar, because they couldn't explain how preventing gay couples from marrying served any of the state's claimed goals.
Anyone who seriously thinks that it's irrational for a state--by self-rule--to recognize marriages only between a man and a woman (not between two men, or three men, or two women and one man) has engaged in serious self-deception. The rational basis was met (and then some), but the moral sentiments of Kennedy and four other judges refused to acknowledge this. And the reasoning of the opinion entails that they should also mandate that states must recongnize polygamous "marriages."
See also Three's Company, Too.