Many homosexual activists claimed that Christians were promoting a “slippery slope” argument that did not exist, that legalizing homosexual marriage would lead to legalizing other forms of marital unions which, today, are outside of the mainstream. They contend that just because homosexuals would be able to marry, that does not mean that polygamous (same-sex) or polyamorous (many mixed-sex partners) unions would eventually become legal.
They are sadly mistaken.
Both polygamists and polyamorous activists celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), claiming the move to promote same-sex marriage in the U.S. promotes polygamy as well.
The Supreme Court voted to declare The Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and not hear further arguments regarding Proposition 8 in California, which sought to ban any redefinition of marriage.
Many have suggested that the move heavily favors same-sex marriage prospects for the rest of the U.S., and now polygamy advocates have said the idea of traditional “family values” is dying. “I was very glad… The nuclear family, with a dad and a mom and two or three kids, is not the majority anymore,” said Anne Wilde a polygamy activist. “Now it’s grandparents taking care of kids, single parents, and gay parents. I think people are more and more understanding that as consenting adults, we should be able to raise a family however we choose.”
Gay rights advocates have long sought to distance themselves from polygamists in order to undermine social conservatives’ slippery-slope argument, but their arguments have become hollow as more people realize the ramifications of defining marriage and the traditional family.
As talk radio host Bryan Fischer tweeted on Twitter: “The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable. Matter of time.”
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor seems to agree. During the hearing for the case, Justice Sotomayor asked, “If you say that marriage is a fundamental right, what state restrictions could ever exist, meaning, what’s the restriction with respect to the number of people that could get married, the incest laws—mother and child. What’s left?”
What is left indeed?
Polygamists in the United States have taken cues from the homosexual rights movement, and have tried to position themselves as freedom-minded advocates trying to ally themselves with conservatives. The media—both news programs and entertainment venues such as the TLC reality show Sister Wives—have tried to convince the American public that their lifestyle can be wholesome and normal.
While some same-sex marriage advocates have attempted to distance themselves from polygamists by saying the “slippery slope” argument is a myth, others have abandoned all pretense. Slate writer Jillian Keenan argued in her article “Legalize Polygamy!” that the practice is “no better or worse than homosexual marriage.”
“Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist and sex-positive choice,” she wrote.
A number of Christian advocates have been pointing out for years the link between the unbiblical redefinition of marriage and the harder-to-defend practices such as polygamy, self-marriage, and the end of marriage altogether.
“Redefinition has no logical stopping point. Its logic leads to the effective elimination of marriage as a legal institution. This will harm women, children and society as a whole,” Ryan T. Anderson, a William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation, wrote for The Christian Post.
Though DOMA has been repealed and calls for same-sex marriage and polygamy may increase, Christians are continuing to try to stem the assault on God’s institution.
“Marriage has been defined between one man and one woman for over a millennium, and it is our view that the courts should not get involved at this point in time and fundamentally change the institution of marriage,” said David N. Bossie, President of Citizens United whose National Committee for Family, Faith and Prayer filed a brief in the DOMA case.
Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, says that striking down the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman delegitimizes the moral argument against polygamy. “It opens up Pandora’s Box in how you define marriage in this country,” he says. “Why not have three men and two women marry if they love each other? Why limit it to two people?”
Mark Goldfeder, a law professor at Emory University, believes that DOMA had a significant impact on the future of polygamy in the United States. Goldfeder, who specializes in the intersection of law and religion, says that the courts will need to find other justifications to keep anti-polygamy statutes in place.
“It’s one hundred percent likely that these polygamist cases will come, but they will no longer turn on whether a relationship is immoral,” Goldfeder says. “The court will look at whether these relationships cause third party harm.”
But others believe that time and society is on their side.
According to Wilde, “I’m not a fortune-teller, but it seems like if more people are accepting of gay marriage, it would follow that polygamist marriage wouldn’t be criticized quite so much. … Let’s not pop the corks just yet.”
We need to work to keep the champagne in the bottle.