Why aren’t Presbyterians allowed to have sex standing up? Because it can lead to dancing.
It’s an old joke but one that perfectly sums up the fears of those who oppose change: if you relax one rule who knows where it will lead.
This slippery-slope mentality is what’s behind the fear that allowing same-sex couples to marry will lead to the recognition of other marital arrangements like polygamy.
Opponents of change say if marriage is all about love and commitment then what about the love and commitment between one man and his four wives?
There’s an element of hypocrisy and mischief-making in this rhetorical question.
Often those who oppose same-sex marriage justify themselves by referring to “biblical values”, conveniently ignoring the fact that the Bible is full of polygamous relationships.
They also talk a lot about marriage being for “procreation”, again ignoring the fact that multiple wives makes for hordes of kids.
Although it’s never explicitly said, I suspect opponents of same-sex marriage also sometimes raise polygamy because it echoes the old myth about homosexual promiscuity.
But for now let’s take the question on face value: does removing marriage discrimination against gay couples open the door to polygamous unions?
My answer is “no”.
In none of the countries which allow same-sex marriage is polygamy officially recognised, even though some of them, like Spain and Holland, have large religious minorities that traditionally allow it.
There is an even wider gulf between the two issues in countries which allow polygamy.
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