Here’s the text of an email I sent to Katherine Kersten of the Startribune, in response to today’s piece explaining that gay marriage leads to polygamy:
In your recent column on gay marriage I believe you overlooked three points, and I look forward to hearing your opinions in a future column.
1. You neglected to explain exactly why polygamy is bad. I’m not convinced that it is bad, or at least that it is inevitably bad, but I think it’s poor journalistic form to warn us of an impending danger without telling us why it is a danger.
2. You also didn’t explain why your ‘thin end of the wedge’ represents a realistic outcome. The federal government is currently working on legislation that will reduce the unwarranted search protections of the Fourth Amendment. By your logic that means that they are working to overthrow the Bill of Rights, because one bad thing always leads to the next bad thing. I’m interested to hear exactly why gay marriage leads to polygamy, and for that matter why marriage isn’t the thin end of the wedge that leads to gay marriage.
3. Finally, and for me most significantly, you haven’t explained why the marriage amendment does not contain the additional words ‘for
life’ in defining a marriage. If the evidence shows that one man and one woman is the optimum for raising children, then surely the
existing prevelance of divorce is a much greater danger of polygamy? If we’re redefining marriage as a positive step, rather than as a
reaction to the idea that gays might be considered in some way normal, shouldn’t we concentrate on the larger threat of divorce first?
I look forward to any analysis you care to give of these issues.
A word of clarification: I don’t support polygamy, mainly because I don’t think it’s how humans are ‘wired’ to experience relationships, and hence leads too often to damaged participants. But it’s also a difficult practice to argue against because it can suit some people very well, and there isn’t (for me) a clear argument against it such as the informed consent argument that can be used against most relationships western society considers deviant. That’s reflected in the fact that it is so historically and geographically prevalent; I don’t know the stats, but I’d guess it’s the most common form of ‘marriage’ outside of the classical heterosexual monogamous ideal.
Update: Minnesota Politics has more.