The Triumph of the Conservatives

Little commented on is the real truth.

Same sex marriage is the triumph of the conservatives.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating.

Radical redefinitions of the family have given way to suburbia.

This is the triumph of two cats in a yard and a mortgage.

As I said two years ago:

“Our society has evolved in such a manner where, to service the needs of families as they exist today, we must alter the laws to allow same-sex couples to avail themselves of the same bundle of rights, responsibilities, rebutable presumptions, tax benefits and tax penalties we afford to heterosexual couples who make the choice; to wit, the imperfect institution of marriage.”

But surely there were and are other alternatives. But rather than same sex marriage being the gateway to those alternative, it is almost like a cell door shutting upon them.

Check out this
opinion piece from the Times in which a gay person enjoying Domestic Partner benefits (the monetary rather than the fun kind) laments that she may now end up losing them, as was the case in other states where Same Sex Marriage or Civil Unions put an end to such schemes because they were judged to be obsolete.

I believe that as society evolves over time, and that the state by state recognition of either kind of same sex union, either through the passage of legislation, or by judicial fiat, will ultimately aide in the evolution of attitudes necessary to change the state by state snowball effect into a gradual avalanche. Each new step builds upon the next, making the next easier, in much the way that Lyndon Johnson anticipated (using the subtle metaphor of talking a virgin out of her cherry) when he steered the toothless 1957 Civil Rights Act through the US Senate, while ever lying in wait for the next opportunity to present itself (as it eventually did with the Kennedy assassination) and meanwhile manipulating events behind the scene (as proven in transcripts of his phone conversations with Dr. King) to set the stage for the eventual triumph of decency .

As such, a victory of this nature would serve the multiple purposes of improving people’s rights in the immediate term, while creating momentum for more change and gradually changing the attitudes of society through evolution and attrition

As I recently noted, in the long run, the fight to stop same-sex marriage is probably doomed. The foundations of this sort of cultural conservatism are crumbling as we speak. My eight year old son already believes that gay couples can get married, because he’s seen two-mommy and two-daddy families in his religious-based nursery school, as well as at the public school he now attends. In Brownstone Brooklyn, children have even seen same-sex parent families in the Orthodox Jewish nursery schools. As a leading Evangelical, Richard Cizik, noted, about four in ten Evangelical Christians have an LGTB friend or family member. Another generation and what so many fear so much will amount to oh so little.

But, the long run can take a long time, and families headed by same sex couples don‘t live in the long run--they live today in the here and now. Legal normalization of same sex relationships, by whatever name one calls it, not only protects the interests of those families, but will inevitably lead, over time, to the last barrier falling as well. That means that in other states, other means might prove necessary. It means swallowing (perhaps not the best choice of words) religious exemptions, because when push comes to shove (perhaps not the best choice of words) they will be noted on page 23, below the fold.

Religious accommodation has often proven the third rail on this issue. Vermont’s bill passed only after provisions were added facilitating the rights of religious institutions which don’t accept same sex marriage. So other states, including New York’s.

While religious institutions are protected by the First Amendment, writing such provisions into the law makes them easier to swallow (perhaps not the best choice of words). The challenge is to create religious exemptions wide enough to pass the legislation (and protect legitimate rights) but narrow enough so that they don’t swallow the rule.

Many social conservatives, including Richard Cizik, Rick Warren, David Blankenhorn and
seemingly even columnist Maggie Gallagher (President of the socially conservative Institute for Marriage Public Policy) have recently moved awfully quickly to embrace civil unions. This may be damage control, but it also stems from facts like those four in ten Evangelical Christians who have LGTB family or friends, and that “Trembling Before God” has become a popular Orthodox Jewish cult film.

Moreover, I think it is also an acknowledgement of their own victory.

During the 60s and 70s, the institution of marriage looked awful shaky, with much of society exploring alternatives and questioning its continuing vitality. This was not a predominately gay phenomena, although lesbians joined other feminists in denouncing and rejecting marriage as an institution of patriarchal oppression. Once considered an anachronism, marriage is suddenly the thing everyone (except couples already married) wants.

As it became apparent late in the last century that the needs of families headed by same sex couples had to be addressed, cautious liberal came up with half-way solutions like “Domestics Partnerships.” The irony is that, in their effort to pay homage to “traditional marriage,” their solutions did more to undermine that concept than expanding marriage to same sex couples ever could.

In our society, we had previously offered couples only one option to give legal sanction to their relationships--marriage, take it or leave it. But one could not constitutionally offer the option of “Domestic Partnership” to homosexuals without offering it to others. Suddenly, in some places, it wasn’t take it or leave it--there was another option.

“Domestic Partnership,” created as a moderate alternative, was actually a far more radical idea, even if the actual substance was pretty mild. It really did undermine “traditional marriage” and begged the question of why still other options could not be created.

By contrast, gay marriage, and civil unions do not expand the menu, they expand the customer base. In fact, when Vermont enacted civil unions, it repealed its “Domestic Partnership” law. This has also happened elsewhere.

I think some conservatives took due notice, and a growing number of them seem to understand that there are few instincts more culturally conservative than for folks to wish to solemnize their relationships in a legal manner so as to afford themselves the ability to better provide for the needs of their families by accessing the full panoply of rights and responsibilities we afford to married couples.

I’m not saying this is necessary all so great. Maybe, just maybe, a better idea would be to expand the menu options for everyone. Maybe, just maybe, traditional marriage needs to be changed, rather than multiplied.

Nonetheless, facilitating this kind of support among cultural conservatives serves the long range needs of LGBT couples who want to marry. And I suspect that winning the acquiesance, if not the support of such conservatives, and swallowing some of the religious accommodations demanded by them, will be crucial to the really, really important goal of amending DOMA.

Logically, one would think that religious accommodation should not be a problem. When Tom Suozzi once explained his opposition to same sex marriage by talking about “sacraments,” it made me cringe. The state does not give out “sacraments;” religions do. In the secular realm , the only realm a which should matter in a governmental capacity, marriage is like property, the “bundle of rights” I referred to previously.

State sanctioned gay marriage does not impede anyone’s religious freedom. Those religions which have no theological problem with it already perform gay weddings which, at the present time, are perhaps sanctified in the eyes of God, but not in the eyes of the law.

When the laws change, as they are now doing in NYS, those religions which do have a problem with gay marriage will continue to have the First Amendment right to not perform rituals they do not embrace. Orthodox Jews don’t do baptisms; Catholics don’t do brit melah; neither will be forced by the law into performing gay weddings.

But, in actual practice, this sometimes become tricky to sort out--just ask an Native American trying to consume peyote or a municipality trying to apply its zoning laws to church property.

Anyway, many of these question came up in a Room 8 thread a couple of years ago, where I sometimes uncomfortably held the legalistic middle ground against both social conservatives, defending tradition, and cultural radicals wanting to overturn it rather than expand it. :

It was so much fun, that I thought I’d revisit it today:

ROCK: …because I have been struggling with this "issue" on many levels for many years now. I would still like to hear you address for once, what happens if after same-sex marriage passes, that polygamists demand the right to marry more than one person: under what legal basis do you then deny them that right? People like Wonk and Bouldin seem to think they have addressed this point, but they have not (as least not as yet); and not to the satisfaction of many -myself included.

GATE: As I've implied, same-sex marriage advocates really are not advocating changing the fundamentals of traditional marriage. It's been a long time since marriage was about procreation; and if you think procreation is somehow defined in our society by marriage, I'd ask you to spend the day in a custody and visitation part in Kings County Family Court.

Except in the four common law states (where the presumptions creating de facto marriage may be somewhat unprepared to encompass couples of the same gender), the addition of same sex couples to the marriage laws is not going to create that much in surprises which will later have to be addressed by state legislatures--much of what would have needed change once has already taken place in hetero-marriage statutes over the last 40 years. But adding polygamous relationships would require fundamental re-writes of the law to accommodate it, which I bet about 49 of our states are totally unprepared for.

But, I may be the wrong person to ask, since, I have chosen to, in passing, raise questions implying that, maybe, just maybe, it would not be so awful for us to ponder alternatives to traditional marriage. My shout-out to the 60-70s was meant to encompass alternative models like communal relationships. While I'm not here to advocate for legal recognition of any such relationship, I do not see why one is expected not to raise question concerning whether the manner in which we've chosen to organize society is the proper one.

That being said, I think you are overstating the impact allowing same sex marriage will have. Rationally, one would expect homosexual to be pioneers in questioning the underpinnings of the entire status quo. Instead, they have chosen in large number to try to buy into it. I think that, rather than strengthening advocates of more radical alternatives to traditional marriage (polygamy, communal relationships etc), the move towards same sex marriage strengthens the status quo.

I mean, be serious--where do you see any groundswell for polygamy or other alternative modes of family organizations? There seems little to no possibility of achieving such change through legislation in our lifetimes, and I don't think there is an equal protection argument which embraces polygamy (show me the law review article), or any rational basis to fear that it will be imposed by judicial fiat. Moreover, where is the need? Look to your left and right, and one finds a family headed by a same sex couple--we are dealing with their issues, because dealing with them has become unavoidable. I suspect that in at least 49 states, advocates of polygamy cannot say the same.

EnWhySeaWonk: First of all here's an interesting article on the difference between Polygamy and Homosexuality, that might shed some light.

Secondly as Gatey implied, there's no movement for Polygamous marriage and I'll tell you at least one reason why. A lot of polygamists can’t use the same equal protection argument as we do with the same-sex marriage issue. We want the same rights. Polygamists are, by and large, not actually looking for equal rights. Not that all polygamists are Mormon

Fundamentalists, but taking them as an example, women aren't allowed to have two (or more) husbands in their culture, but they would de facto have to argue that they should be able to in order to prevail with same-sex marriage as precedent. They can't make an equal protection argument unless it would grant everyone the right to multiple spouses. In addition, there are very strong societal issues with whether additional wives are actually abused or intimidated into a lot of these marriages; age is also an issue.

They are hardly equal partners in these marriages. Although, come to think of it, if you look at the “traditional” view of marriage, that shouldn’t matter: Women were considered property in “traditional” marriage. But that's changed, hasn't it?

As Gate also mentions, there are legal issues that would have be sorted out, that would not be for same-sex couples. Take inheritance. If a married person dies intestate (no will) everything goes to the spouse. Man/Woman, Man/Man, Woman/Woman, same difference.

Example: Under legal polygamy a couple is married 10 years, takes on a new spouse after 5 years and another one after 10 years; one of the 10 years spouses (the breadwinner) dies on the honeymoon with the fourth spouse. What happens? 1/3 of everything goes to the remaining three? Hardly seems fair, although it’s what happens if some gets a divorce, remarries and dies on the honeymoon, the new spouse gets everything if there’s no will. The point is, we don’t just erase “Husband” and “Wife” and substitute “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2” on the form and wherever it’s specified as such in the code, it’s much more complicated than that—new laws have to be created to give such partners “equal protection.” (And inheritance is only one example, what about divorce? What happens when the spouse of 5 years in the previous example wants out? What does he get?).

In any case, it's also a slippery slope argument to bring up polygamy. The questions isn't "what will this lead to?" The question is, does this group of people have equal rights under the law, and if not, should they? If you reach the conclusion that same-sex couples do not have the same rights under the law, and they should, you should be for same-sex marriage. It's not fair to an oppressed group to say, "but what else might happen as a result if we give you the rights I agree you're entitled to?" Either we deserve equal rights or not. If we get them and that leads to other things, let's take up polygamy or whatever as they become real issues. Putting polygamist, out there as a potential bad consequence just isn't a fair thing to put on our movement.  

ROCK: As usual Wonk you skirt around the discussion with obfuscations. The question is simple: on what basis do you disqualify the arguments of polygamists for the right to marry more than one person. Male or female polygamists don't matter. Because women aren't asking for the right to have more than one husband now, doesn't mean they won't demand this right later. Anyway I really don't want to be dragged into another round of name-calling with you Wonk; so I will end here.

EnWhySeaWonk: I don't think I skirted it, but how about this: I will accept, arguendo, your premise.

Accepted (only for argument sake), polygamists, seeking completely equal treatment for their relationships, regardless of whether it's men or women having multiple partners, could use the same equal protection argument to have their relationships recognized, and as such, if such a movement existed (which it does not in any organized sense), they could use the precedent of same-sex marriage being recognized to force recognition of their relationships.

Same-sex couples are being treated unequally under the law.

Same-sex couples should have the same rights as opposite sex couples.

Why does the fact that another group might use that precedent for their agenda change anything about same-sex couples’ rights?

Either we deserve equal rights or we don't. The consequences of giving us those rights do not in any way mean we shouldn't get them.

Unintended consequences is not a logical reason to deny people rights.

Oh, and there is no such organized movement for polygamy; there's also no societal acceptance of polygamy the way there is now for homosexuality, etc., that would have to occur first before they could even use the precedent effectively.

I suggest, that if society moves in the direction of normalizing polygamy, which I find extremely unlikely, that they should have equal rights. But the facts are that polygamy engenders so many issues, including sexism, misogyny, the aforementioned legal complications and complete lack of mainstream acceptance, that using the argument "polygamy might happen if you get full rights" is such a remote possibility as to be rendered an absurd argument against it.

GATE: Actually, for Mormon related polygamy, as well as the Jewish and Islamic sort, the free exercise clause would seem a far better leg to stand on legally than the equal protection clause.

Right now, everyone, no matter what their gender, or sexual orientation, is denied the right to be married to more than one spouse at a time, so I'm not seeing any equal protection argument.

By contrast, the Religious free exercise argument so treasured by conservatives when opposing same sex marriage actually gives religiously based polygamists a leg to stand on, even if the case law has always been against them. And, to be frank, I think the case law has gone against them not because of the merits, but because it reflects the underlying attitudes of the society, which I don't see changing anytime soon.

The threat of same sex marriage enabling polygamy is a strawman, a hypothetical about as plausible as one of those involving God having a wrestling match with Clark Kent and Eleanor Roosevelt. Even worse are those hypos involving pedophilia (which implicates those who are infants in the eyes of the law), and animal sodomy (there is no such thing as a consenting adult dachshund). Legal recognition ain't happening.

I do agree with Rock on one point; anachronistic arrangement like polygamy and non-traditional ones like free love communes and Fred Newman-therapy groups (now converted into "I Like Mike" Clubs) do exist, and not all of them involve male domination and female subjugation. All that is not vanilla, is not therefore chocolate--Howard Johnson's made 28 flavors and Baskin Robbins 31. I'm not so sure society shouldn't give legal recognition to alternative forms of family organization other than marriage--but, it ain't happening anytime soon, even if the Independence Party demands it during its negotiations with the Mayor.

Don't take "arguments" that legalizing gay marriage might lead to polygamy seriously, especially from Black communities. Bogus "arguments" happen all the time.

1) Sloppy, lazy analysis includes "what ifs" that don't apply, distract from the original issue, and do not lead to any remotely concrete resolution. Logic 101. That is why our communities are in the conditions everyone sees.

2) When Blacks (usually men) invoke polygamy, they are not talking about Mormon/ Latter Day Saints polygamy, where the husband is responsible for building a domain large enough to house all his wives and children, provides for them, and is there raising his children. Black/ ghetto polygamy is usually based upon the village raising the child, where the village is really an abandoned single female parent (often very young and not even at the age of consent when impregnated by an adult) supported by welfare/ tax payers or mother working a low wage job, with sporadic or no court ordered child support. If the child knows his/ her father, visitation is an issue and a substitute for parenting. In ghetto polygamy, usually the man never even bothers to marry (before or after impregnating) even the first "paramour." Many men males in ghetto polygamy situations do the night crawl, where each unmarried "wife" holds down her own lodging; the unmarried "husband' makes the rounds, does occasional "conjugal" visits.

No need to worry about them lobbying for legalizing polygamy. Most don't even marry the first "wife". That would take effort, character development, and loyalty to one woman and one set of children. Ghetto polygamy is just an excuse to womanize, because, of course, they cannot/ choose not to disciple their own zippers. Arrested adolescent development rules. It's the male's prerogative -- excuse -- under cover of polygamy.

There is no public conversation in Black communities regarding the why or how to form heterosexual marriage as a basis of stable families and communities, not even for the sake of children and perpetuating the race. I guess they assume Blacks, like roaches, will survive no matter what. Why they care about denying gay marriage? I have no clue. They can't even form/ stabilize substantial numbers of straight marriages.

Polygamy is a non-starter.

ROCK: Sometimes I wonder. whether or not people understand what they read. All I have asked is ONE simple question that hasn't been answered -because nobody wants to answer it (or maybe they cannot). Mary Alice: I don't attack your intellectual positions as BOGUS: do I? Last week you were lecturing me to read the constitution (imagine your audacity here); this week my question is bogus? What gives? Is this some personal vendetta? Do you really understand the nuances of this entire issue and the potential ramifications of the proposed changes on society and the world? I will leave you with one last question: Is "marriage" a human right? Or is it a human choice? Many of us who have been agonizing over this issue, have come to our positions (whatever they are) after lengthy analysis and study; it isn't nice to dismiss someone because they don't care to just jump on some bandwagon whimsically. I generally give serious thought to whatever I say, support, write and/or do.

GATE: Sorry Rock but I think I answered your question. One can deny polygamists recognition of their "marriages" because the articulable basis for expanding such a right to same-sex couples just doesn't apply to them> I've said this in a few different ways, and I suppose I could come up with a few , but I think my answer is sufficient. I also think the fear you raise is in reality only a theoretical one.

As to Mary Alice, her grudge does not seem to be against you in particular, but rather concerns black men in general. Beyond that, discretion would seem to be the better part of valor here, and I will refrain from saying more.


ROCK: Although I must admit that you came the closest to attempting a direct answer, I say you fell short on many levels. For example; whether or not it is in fact hypothetical to consider polygamists in this debate, is moot. There was a time when we never even anticipated gays demanding to marry someone of the same sex. That has obviously changed.

The idea that there is no groundswell out there, supportive of polygamous marriages, so we need not look at the potential for such demands is absurd. So when the demands of someone to marry their mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, whoever (related by bloodlines) start hitting the door (same sex or not); what do we say? You all have no standing; you have no rights to such demands (or arguments). And we will deny them because.........? And what about bi-sexuals? Can they not demand to marry both male(s) and female(s)?

Point is this: marriage will always have limits and restrictions; the question is what is the basis for denying someone who demands to marry whoever they choose. Is this just about power? Or is this really about selfishness? I am on the fence now because there is a real issue that you raised here, about protecting the basic human rights of families on the rainbow; and also the rights of those who enter into same sex living arrangements (unions). We have to consider the dignity (amongst other things) behind these demands; and we should. I have always argued for the rights of gays to make their demands, but they still have to convince the majority that their demands are solid. Some people have suggested civil unions as an alternative to marriage if simply because marriage differentiates between husband and wife (male and female) and this requirement cannot be met in same sex marriages. This is a loaded issue, and the attempt to put down those who are being deliberative is silly.

Well, for starters, the stricture against incest easily meets a "strict scrutiny" test. I doubt any court would not find it a compelling government interest to prevent incest.

You don't seem to get bi-sexuality at all. Bi-sexuals are people who can go either way--most generally don't go both ways at once (I know, because I've dated several bi-sexual women, and boy did I try!). When a bi-sexual is in a relationship which could result in marriage, they generally want to marry that one person and make a life with them. They are generally not more promiscuous than heterosexuals or homosexuals, although they do get more opportunities. If they do get an unbearable urge while married, they generally behave like married heterosexuals and homosexuals--they cheat. Like most married heterosexuals or homosexuals, most married bi-sexuals do not generally desire to be married to more than one person at the same time. So bi-sexuality is just a red herring.

As for polygamy, let me give it one more try.

For starters, homosexuality is a sexual orientation. Polygamy is a lifestyle choice--even in most religions where it is permitted. Since gay people cannot get married in most places, polygamists are, by and large, heterosexuals. Their sexual relationships generally take place one partner at a time, and religions which permit polygamy generally forbid any of the real fun possibilities. Even if they didn't, the fun stuff, whether practiced within marriage or without, is generally considered more a variation than an orientation.

More importantly, you don't seem to grasp the political reality here.

Forty years ago, the Stonewall Riots took place, pretty much giving birth to the modern movement for gay rights. It took nearly 40 years to get to the point where same sex marriage is even an issue. Polygamists haven't had their Stonewall yet--instead, they had "Big Love," which only set back their non-existent cause further. But let's grant them a Stonewall, and say it took place last week. Forty years from now, you and I will likely both be dead. I think we can probably postpone this argument until that time when it may actually be ripe for discussion.

This is about civil rights for ALL adult citizens

Rock the answer to your question is that the government should not be in the business of legislating morality or making decisions on how adult citizens should lead their private lives.

We are people of free will in this country and the government has no business telling people what other adults or how many other adults they can or cannot marry.

If some man wants to have two wives, or some woman wants to have two husbands-- or if a man wants to marry a man or a woman wants to marry a woman-- what business is it of yours or the government's? I fail to see how Rock can campaign as a liberal progressive democrat when he refuses to endorse complete and full and equal civil rights for all adult American citizens.

GATE: RWallnerny Asks: "If some man wants to have two wives, or some woman wants to have two husbands-- or if a man wants to marry a man or a woman wants to marry a woman-- what business is it of yours or the government's?"

If one only married as a matter of religion, without a state license, you would be correct. If one chose to live with a partner of their choice under their own rules, you would be correct as well (except in common law states).

But when one chooses to obtain a marriage license, you are legally agreeing to adopt the State's rules. You acquire obligations. You can only relieve yourself of those obligations through a process run by the State, and only under the State's terms (in case you have never heard of it, it is called "Divorce"). The State can force you to provide support to your ex-spouse or vice versa. It can divide your property. And, it can, under certain circumstances, send a man with a gun to your door to enforce those rules.

LGTB people can already get a religious marriage if they choose the right denomination--they want the right to civil marriage, and I agree with you that there is no reason they should not be able to get them. But, even if I agreed with you about the women who wants two husbands (and I'm not sure I don't), I think your assertion that the government has no right to stop it is absurd.

You see, Wallner, it is not a matter of STOPPING such marriages, it is a matter of the government not having a means of accommodating them.

How, for instance, to use Wonk's example, would property be divided under such circumstances if a husband died intestate? To recognize such marriages in the same manner LGTB couples seek is not possible, since LGTB couples seek only to live under the same laws as straight married couples, and those law as currently written are unable to accommodate more populated relationships.

MARY ALICE: I do not have a grudge against my brothers. I love them, and expect better of them. And I should. The community needs a better means of heterosexual family formation. We should be too busy focusing on our marriages, or lack thereof, to have time to deny gays the opportunity to marry. I only described, in the best possible terms, what happens in urban communities not just in NY, but all across the country. It happens in the proverbial trailer parks, too. What I described is the root cause of perpetuating generational poverty, juvenile crime, drop out rates, the gap between Black and white wealth, foster care, the black male 50% unemployment rate, imprisonment, teen motherhood, the spread of STD's including HIV, tax payer paid welfare even when the economy is growing, etc. This issue is bigger than a grudge against men. As a journalist, I would love to have the resources to conduct a study of sample census tracts that contain public housing developments (projects), for instance.

I would research what is the actual relationship between cultural behavior and poverty across cultures. Everyone, including community leadership, sees, and tax payers pay for, the pink elephant in the community. Yet do nothing, not even talk about it.

What can I say?

Mary Patrick Moynihan.

MOLE 333: Rock, I think most people take your question to mean what are the differences between same sex marriage and polygamy that makes one acceptable and one not. You seem to be asking a narrower question.

I will give my answer to your question, though I am pretty sure I am also not answering your narrow question directly.

Actually first I want to give my wife's answer which is what is wrong with accepting polygamy as long as everyone's rights and equality are recognized? This can be viewed by a slight change in your question: If you give freedom of speech to Quakers, under what legal basis do you then deny Nazis that right? The answer is you don't no matter how much you hate Nazis. If you give religious freedom to Jews, under what legal basis do you then deny that right to practitioners of Shango? The answer is, all other legalities taken into account, you don't.

My wife's argument would be the right of any consenting adult to enter willingly into a legal contract with other consenting adults should be recognized. Polygamy included as long as there is no gender bias (meaning polyandry is included) or other inequalities built in.

I am perhaps not as traditional (recognizing that polygamy is one of our oldest traditions) because I feel that there is an inherent inequality built into polygamy. As an institution it has always been intended to subordinate the child producing women to a powerful man. Of course marriage between one man and one woman also has usually had that inherent inequality, but a legal partnership between any two people is more inherently equal in modern society than if you start recognizing a legal union among more people. A marriage between two people is clearly an equal partnership under modern American laws even if this is not always the case in reality. The power dynamics of polygamy to me seem far more suspect and remind me more of a matrimonial Ponzi scheme than a fair romantic business deal.

IN a sense my wife answers you question: you don't and you shouldn't because society should let adults be adults as long as everyone's fundamental rights are protected. My answer is more vague because I question the ability of legal polygamy to protect everyone's fundamental rights adequately given the traditional nature of polygamy as, in essence, a harem of subordinate women dominated by an often abusive male.

I would also like to agree with what others have said: whatever questions are opened up by recognizing same-sex marriage doesn't alter the fundamental fairness of same-sex marriage and the fundamental inequality and unfairness of denying same-sex couples the same rights, or even separate but equal "rights," as opposite-sex couples.

Finally, I am all for getting government out of "marriage" and making it ALL civil unions.

Using the term marriage to refer to a merely religious and personal bond, with no legal ramifications (as in the case when my wife and I signed our Ketubah, witnessed by a Rabbi) and put all the legal aspects in a separate category called a civil union which can be between any consenting adults. I don't think this will happen because words are sometimes the hardest things to change and it might even be easier keeping the word "marriage" and forcing the right wing to accept fair access to that word by all. But I think it is better to completely separate the religious and personal aspects of the union from the legal and government regulated aspects of it.

BLACKIE DREW: Interesting. I am just an observer here but I find this thread to be rather interesting. So tell me again why I cant marry a woman and a man at the same time? After all I am bi-sexual.

MARY ALICE: Do all consent?

Or just you?

Total Nonsense

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a "same-sex family" any more than a "same-sex marriage".

When someone decides to knowingly break from what is the established norm AND what is considered by the overwhelming majority of society to be moral, they should hardly be surprised that their actions don't meet with unilateral acceptance.

No one is required to accept homosexuality as a normal way of life. For most it isn't.

Homosexuals are entitled to the same dignity and respect as all other human beings - however, attempting to force people into acceptance of their sexual behavior is not only ridiculous - it is unconstitutional.

MARY ALICE: That is what was said about Blacks, pre-Civil Rights and pre-Civil War.

GATE: I think your wife misses the point that polygamous marriages, unlike same sex ones, cannot be recognized merely by adding them into the current statutory scheme, because they don't fit into the current statutory scheme and would require enactment of a whole new body of law --a whole new body of law no one is even asking for

As to you other suggestion, to eliminate civil marriage and replace it with civil union for all, it is hardly original--Michael Kinsley proposed it months ago--but it won't work, because people want to obtain something called "marriage" without getting it through a religion

As to Mr. Anonymous Nonsense, there are all sorts of Families--try visiting Family Court and see--as Mary Alice so thoroughly demonstrates, they exist with or without the benefit of marriage. Some of those families are or were the products of matrimony and some are or were headed by same sex couples--others, well, the scenarios vary. In many cases, they "knowingly break from what is the established norm AND what is considered by the overwhelming majority of society to be moral".

Nonetheless, society did not turn away and say "we don't like, so we won't acknowledge;" instead, to protect the welfare of children and others, we have altered the laws to account for the realities. We need to do so again.

No one is asking YOU to accept homosexuality as a normal way of life. We are asking for government to acknowledge the reality of these families and allow them to access a legally sanctioned system of family organization in order to ensure the well-being of their families.

I happen to, on occasion, find certain heterosexual marriages to offend my sense of morality--the examples of Rudy Giuliani, Woody Allen, and Kennedy-Onassis spring to mind, and I'm sure I could think of others. I think it is not unlikely that a majority of the populace agrees with me. But the right of a particular couple to marry should not be subject to popular plebiscite. Rather, that right should be defined in a manner which yields to the needs of the society. Today, the needs of our society require that same sex couples be allowed to access the benefits of the matrimonial state. In fact, their needs seem far more compelling than the need of Mr. Allen to marry the legal sibling of his children.

No law can force you into acceptance of someone's sexual behavior, although social stigma might do the trick. As to your learned knowledge of the constitution, I do wonder to which article you are referring.

More Details Please!

I'd like to read more about Gatemouth's attempts at a ménage a trois with bisexuals. All in favor say aye aye aye".

MOLE 333: Total Nonsense: You are describing your own view. If you want to impose your own morality on others, please move to Iran where that kind of thing is acceptable. No one asks you to participate in homosexuality. But you do not have the right to interfere with what others do in their personal lives and the law also should not interfere with what they do with their personal lives.

Gate: I don't think my wife would consider it relevant that the laws need to be changed to allow polygamy. I think she would emphasize that people should be allowed to make their own personal choices on an equal basis with others without interference from other individuals or legal obstacles.

As to the idea that government should stop being in the marriage business and ONLY do civil unions, I think I first heard that argument on the Al Franken show on Air America some 4 years ago. But it would be hard to do. I think it would be easier to get gay marriage through, complete with the word "marriage" than effectively separating the marriage and civil union concepts.  

GATE: Mole's missus seems to be talking apples and oranges. It is one thing to ask the state to enforce your private contract--that, for instance, is the basis of palimony. It is quite another to ask the state to create a body of law to facilitate a statutory version of your private contractual agreement.

Gay people and polygamists both can enforce their private contractual relationships in court, to the extent that those agreements are not void for public policy reasons --which is more a problem for the polygamists than it is for the gays. What they cannot do is enter into the state-created system called marriage which embodies 200 rights and responsibilities automatically, including many things that a contact between two parties could never facilitate, like survivors rights and benefits.

For gays to enter such a system would create little problem. Cross-out the gender differentiations and they fit pretty easily. However, it is impossible for polygamist to enter into such a system because they do not fit. One cannot load "Big Love" onto a bicycle built for two. The best the law can do is to regard less of their contractual arrangements as being void for public policy. And I suspect that given the Mole family's concern for equality, they'd just as soon keep most of that public policy in place.