Last edited: December 08, 2004

How to Derail Gay Marriage: Put Polygamy on Fast Track

The Union Leader, July 6, 2003
Box 9555, Manchester, NH 03108
Fax: 603-668-0382

By Bernadette Malone

If I were single-handedly responsible for making sure the new Supreme Court ruling overturning state sodomy laws didn’t pave the path to gay marriage, as both supporters of the ruling and dissenters predict it will, I’d do a couple of things.

I’d make sure as many people as possible saw pictures from the freaky Gay Pride Parade that culminated in my Greenwich Village neighborhood last Sunday. (If straight people celebrated their sexuality with a parade 10 times more licentious than New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, I’d oppose heterosexual marriage, too!)

I’d make sure as many people as possible knew about the kooky new “queer studies” program at the University of New Hampshire. That’d turn a lot of people off to the idea.

I’d make sure President Bush never again referred to marriage between a man and a woman as his “notion”—a word that invites a challenge. One holds a notion that men should open the door for women and no one should wear white after Labor Day. One holds a reasoned conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman.

But the single biggest effort I’d make to stop same-sex marriage is to start pushing for multiple partner marriage. Yep. Polygamy. I’d find some guy out in Utah who ignored the Mormon church’s 1830 prohibition against marrying more than one woman. I’d find some wealthy Muslim residing in the U.S. who wanted to take Muhammed up on his prescribed allowance of four wives. I’d swallow hard and make common cause with some trashy bigamist from the Jerry Springer Show, and offer to make him an even bigger star by taking his issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Forget for a moment that I’m not a lawyer.)

Why would I do that? Because it would force society—more specifically, the five autocratic U.S. Supreme Court justices who have decided to castrate state legislatures and instead rule society themselves—to realize what logically follows from breaking down the definition of marriage. If male-female isn’t a necessary pairing for marriage, why is “two” a necessary number for marriage? Why can’t three people get married? Or 16, David Koresh-style? As Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out in his dissent in last week’s Lawrence v. Texas case, the Court’s decision that the state has no right to regulate sexual behavior between consenting adults means bigamy and all sorts of other behavior (prostitution, incest, etc.) can’t be outlawed by states.

I’d be pushing for polygamy to make an ironic point about the desirability of marriage between one man and one woman, the exact formula it takes to create a new child and raise that child with all the benefits of dual-gender influence. That formula, sanctioned by Judeo-Christian tradition, is supposed to pressure the couple into remaining happily married forever, in large part for their offspring’s benefit. I’m all for letting people do what they want in their bedrooms, and I’ve rolled my eyes when I’ve lived in states with anti-sodomy laws. But as libertarian as I am, I know the state needs to at least give traditional marriage a nod—if only because children can’t be overlooked while adults are out pursuing personal liberty. Otherwise, taxpayers will have to pick up the check for child welfare and therapy bills.

In pushing for polygamy to make my point about gay marriage, I could expect to be joined by the wacky, radical left. Their arguments against traditional marriage, I hope, would wake Americans up. Liberal journalist Michael Kinsley, who you might remember from the early days of CNN’s “Crossfire” program, recommends in a Slate column that we compromise between gays and straights by refusing to recognize any marriage as legally valid. Let people do whatever they want, in any combination. “And, yes, if three people want to get married, or one person wants to marry herself, and someone else wants to conduct a ceremony and declare them married, let ‘em.”

And gay activists say same-sex marriage is no threat to traditional marriage!

Gay marriage stands an excellent chance of becoming the law of the land now that the Supreme Court has ruled that states can’t “discriminate” against sexual behavior between consenting adults. The best way I can see to get the Supreme Court to rethink that decision is to present it with legalized polygamy—sexual behavior between consenting adults that I think most of us would like to discriminate against.

  • Bernadette Malone is the former editorial page editor of these newspapers. 

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