Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Wives Are Company, Three Are a Crowd. Four Seems Reasonable

7/12/11 - Update: Hold on tight, because it seems we are all falling down Scalia's slippery slope. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that the Brown family is championing the cause; they're sort of a model polygamous family. They're not asking for state recognition of their "spiritual marriages." They just want to be left alone. Seems like private consensual sexual conduct to me . . .

I’m a pretty busy person but I still make time for the important things in life, like a Sister Wives marathon on TLC. I was never part of the Big Love craze, mostly because I’ve never been blessed with HBO. Luckily the reality TV version is more accessible.

I have complicated feelings about polygamy but my gut reaction is one of distaste. I grew up in a suburb in Utah not too far from the TLC family. Polygamy certainly wasn’t prevalent, but we all knew where the polygamists lived and we recognized their distinct clothes and hairstyles at the grocery store. As I got older, this fact bothered me; everyone knew where the polygamous communities were, yet local or state government only seemed to prosecute polygamy when it made the press. This usually happened because some young girl left (or escaped) a polygamous community and was brave enough to come forward and demand action. I couldn’t help but wonder how many girls my age were living in unwanted polygamous marriages, waiting to be saved.

Sister Wives challenges the view I’ve always had about polygamous relationships. There are three wives in the Brown family (with a fourth on the way). Each of these women chose, as adults, to enter a polygamous relationship. They not only knew their husband intended to take on additional wives, they wouldn’t have it any other way. They enjoy having a big family. They like sharing child-rearing responsibilities. They value the bond they have with their fellow wives. Their religious views encourage their adopted lifestyle. Essentially, they’re not the 14 year-old girls forced into marriage with an old dude that I always pictured when I thought of polygamists.

In Con Law last year, I remember being outraged when Scalia, in his Romer v. Evans dissent, compared homosexuality to polygamy (and bestiality and bigamy and murder). The gist of the argument is that states have always been permitted to enact law based on moral disapproval and concern for the social harm caused by certain acts. Scalia asks, “Has the Court concluded that the perceived social harm of polygamy is a "legitimate concern of government," and the perceived social harm of homosexuality is not?” My answer was that polygamy creates social harm and homosexuality does not.

But I’m not sure I’m right about that.

I know there are polygamist relationships that are manipulative, abusive, and harmful to women and children. My biggest qualm with polygamy remains that many polygamist sects are notorious for forcing young girls into controlling and dangerous marriages.

But is there really societal harm when a group of three or four (or five or six) adults make informed, un-coerced decisions to live together and raise children as a family? They certainly aren’t bothering me.

I don’t really have an answer on this one and I’m curious how others feel. I do think that when (not if) gay marriage is fully recognized in the near future, the polygamy issue will have to be reckoned with.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be helpful to compare domestic violence rates between polygamist families and ‘normal’ families.

10/21/2010 10:09 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

10:09, you might be right. But would the underlying data be reliable, especially in light of the likely under-reporting from polygamist victims?

10/21/2010 10:11 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"My answer was that polygamy creates social harm and homosexuality does not. But I’m not sure I’m right about that."

I think you are right about that. Even though, in some rare cases, a polygamous family may be just as well-adjusted as any family with gay parents, I think if you compared the two in a broad study, the gay families would come off better in almost every respect.

The problem, I think, is that it is too hard to untangle polygamy--as it presently exists in America--from whacko religious fundamentalism. And when the two mix, shitty things happen to kids. We have seen this happen too often to ignore, and a few rare exceptions don't destroy the rationale for using a blunt instrument to discourage this massively harmful practice.

It's kind of like... there might be people who can safely own and operate fully automatic weapons, but that doesn't mean I'm against gun control. (I realize this is exactly the kind of crude comparison that I despise when applied to gay marriage, but it kind of illustrates the point.)

Sometimes we have to flat-out outlaw a behavior in order to prevent its spread, when we KNOW its spread will lead to terrible consequences for thousands of children, even if it's not fair that some bad apples spoiled the bunch.

10/21/2010 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, really? I'm surprised at these comments so far.

How is polygamy inherently any different than any kind of non-traditional family structure that we Berkeley liberals claim to be fine with?

Sure, any fourteen-year-old forced into a marriage is a victim and her victimizers should be punished appropriately. But that's the problem, not the mere existence of multiple marriage. I really think than any argument you can make against polygamy you can also make against gay marriage, so if you're for one you really should have no problem with the other. When it comes down to it, we really don't like polygamy because it seems weird and a little icky to us. But that's the underlying reason that gay marriage continues to be illegal, to the outrage of many of us. What's the difference?

As a good friend of mine says, "if we're okay with a kid having two mommies, why aren't we okay with a kid having two mommies and a daddy?"

10/21/2010 11:25 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

The answer, 11:55, is that gay marriage has no history as institutionalized rape.

10/21/2010 11:28 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Right. I mean we just had a trial about this in Judge Walker's court, and the defense was unable to put on any evidence that gay marriages are in any way damaging to kids or society. If you had the same trial about polygamy, things would go very differently.

Yes, in the abstract, it's hard to make a moral distinction. But the distinction we're making is not moral. It's empirical.

10/21/2010 11:36 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/21/2010 11:38 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Has anyone been paying attention to Sam Harris lately? He made a similar point in his book and at TED last year. Basically, he argues that there can be secular moralism, but it should be based on data and reality rather than ancient religious texts. This issue is illustrative because liberal thinkers do have a hard time finding a reason why polygamy is "bad," despite ample concrete evidence of its negative effects. Do we ignore that evidence in service of our abstract ideology, or do we attempt to create some moral-like standard around it?

I concede it's not an easy question, but I know where I come down on it.

10/21/2010 12:10 PM  
Blogger James said...

Polygamy in theory is not necessarily bad. Most of the cultures that practice it, however, practice a male dominated version of polygamy where one man takes many wives. This teams to coincide with fundamentalist religious cultures that are patriarchies (fundamentalist Mormons and some fundamentalist Muslims are good examples of this).

However, the legal prohibition against it is extremely questionable given that adults should be able to marry other consenting adults. This becomes more problematic when people are having dual families (not informing spouses that they are, in fact, already married). The Mormon Fundamentalist version of polygamy seems less problematic from this perspective in that all parties are aware of all marriages.

US polygamy laws are pretty old and I think you'd have a hard time arguing that they were enacted to protect women.

10/21/2010 12:18 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

The problem with using empiricism to create standards of conduct is two-fold:

First, data are meaningless until applied within some moral framework -- in this case presumably utilitarianism. An empirical approach only works if we all agree on what is empirically "good," which essentially begs the question the empirical results are supposed to answer. For example, we could have a long conversation about the empirical results of outlawing polygamy (less rape, but less freedom for men) but we cannot turn that into a standard of conduct until we come to a moral conclusion about which of those values should count more. And that puts us right back on square one.

Second, even if one can get over the first hurdle, empiricism is descriptive. It tells us only what has happened in the past. Basing our future conduct entirely upon past results creates a stagnation problem because the model has little room for growth.

And stuff.

10/21/2010 12:20 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...

"The problem, I think, is that it is too hard to untangle polygamy--as it presently exists in America--from whacko religious fundamentalism. And when the two mix, shitty things happen to kids."

It seems like this is an argument for outlawing religious fundamentalism, not polygamy. But since we cannot do that, outlawing polygamy serves as a useful conduit to limit religious fundamentalism (or, as was originally the case, religious eccentricity).

10/21/2010 12:31 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

An anti-polygamy law passed as a "useful conduit to limit religious fundamentalism" would be DOA under the Free Excercise Clause.

10/21/2010 12:37 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...

I agree, but that seems to be the root level rationale for leaving anti-polygamy laws on the books (much like religious views are the root level rationale for many people opposing gay marriage, even if they proffer other reasons at trial).

I unfortunately have not taken a relevent Con Law course, but my understanding is that when a law infringes upon the excercise of religion, it should be narrowly tailored to remedy the harm it adresses. It seems like enforcing laws against coercion into marriage would be more narrowly tailored to harm to children than outlawing a style of marriage.

10/21/2010 12:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well look, again, this is the argument Judge Walker heard last week. I believe that case involved rational-basis review, right? And since there was no evidence that gay marriage led to any social harm, there was no rational basis for not allowing it. I maintain you'd be hard-pressed to say the same thing about polygamy.

10/21/2010 1:07 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

*not last week, but you know what i mean

10/21/2010 1:07 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sorry, McTwo, I just noticed your post... Take Con Law. Laws restricting marriage do not need to be narrowly tailored. And laws interfering with the practice of religion don't either, as long as they're designed to do something legitimate. Basically.

10/21/2010 1:12 PM  
Blogger Carbolic said...

I think Jackie O is right. I also think reflexive attempts to justify the disparate treatment of gay and polygamous marriages are primarily based on value judgments and cultural mores.

In California and many other areas, gay relationships are socially and morally acceptable (even laudatory). Polygamous relationships are not. I think this motivates most of the "constitutional" arguments regarding government marriage restrictions.

10/21/2010 1:23 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

. . . . actually, Dan, it's even wrinklier. Laws restricting marriage may not need to be narrowly-tailored, but laws do get heightened review if they restrict free exercise. Sometimes, that is; whether a law merely works an "incidental burden" on religious expression, or whether it is discriminatory, is a really messy area of the First Amendment. But the upshot is that the doctrinal framework depends to some degree upon whether polygamy falls within the ambit of marriage or religion.

10/21/2010 1:24 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Right, that is more or less what I thought. I was just trying to boil it down to basics. If we are preventing polygamy because it leads to societal harm, and curtailing religious expression is merely incidental, then it does not need to be narrowly tailored.

Like, we probably don't allow people to keep venemous snakes for safety reasons, even though this curtails the religion of those snake people.

10/21/2010 1:30 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...

"If we are preventing polygamy because it leads to societal harm, and curtailing religious expression is merely incidental, then it does not need to be narrowly tailored."

But it seems like the societal harm (14 year olds being forced into marriage) comes not from polygamy itself, but rather from the fundamentalist practices surrounding polygamy.

Your snake example is illustrative. Venomous snakes are objectively harmful in that they can kill people. But polygamy is only harmful as applied in fundamentalist settings (or so the evidence I have seen indicates).

I guess the issue, much like gay marriage, would turn on if one could prove harms directly from polygamy, and not from the religious context surrounding it.

10/21/2010 1:54 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Well, no. The harm from polygamy does not come from the religious concepts that underpin it. It comes from the physically and psychologically abusive practices that sometimes attend it. Those practices are neither caused by, nor correlate to, religious fundamentalism.

10/21/2010 1:58 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...

I don't mean to be obstinate, but I guess I am having trouble thinking of specific harms from a polygamist relationship. Could you give examples of the physical and psychological abuse that polygamy causes?

I know you said earlier in the thread that polygamy has a history of institutionalized rape, but that seems true for marriage in general (insofar as exceptions to rape law for husbands and arranged marriages are concerned).

10/21/2010 2:11 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

For background, try here. Then read the accounts here, or here and ask: is this about religion, or is it about rape?

10/21/2010 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:25 here. All of these comments are thoughtful, smart and well-informed -- but they still don't what I see as the real issue here (McTwo seems to agree with me, I think): polygamy itself is not harmful. It's the way that polygamy often (but not always) plays out in our society -- whether for religious reasons or otherwise -- that is the problem.

So punish the actual crime. If someone is having sex with a fourteen-year-old, whether within a forced marriage or not, punish that person for having illegal sex with a minor. If someone is teaching their fourteen-year-old that she will not get into heaven unless she has sex with an adult man without too much of a fuss, prosecute that person for child abuse (this gets a little sticky with the Free Practice clause, but we've managed to work it out in other situations). There are already laws in place to deal with all the negative consequences that often come with polygamous marriages, without outlawing polygamy as an institution. As Sister Wives and Big Love point out, it is highly possible for three or more consenting adults to enter into a multiple marriage that causes no societal harm to anyone (except for the ick factor, which is no good reason to outlaw something, see e.g. gay marriage).

As for the arguments that polygamy institutionalizes patriarchy, please. Patriarchy exists irrespective of polygamy, and many people would even argue that marriage itself is a patriarchal institution (which I won't get into here). A woman shouldn't be forced to marry a man who has multiple wives, but a woman shouldnt' be forced to marry a man who has no wives either. If a woman chooses to marry a man who has multiple wives, the law should not stand in her way.

10/21/2010 2:28 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Hmmm, so driving drunk is not the problem, but running the red light and t-boning another car. So punish the red light infraction.

Do you feel the same way about terrorism as a crime per se? I don't know about you, but I really have no concerns about the lawful assembly and association rights of known members of Al Quaeda, for example.

10/21/2010 2:32 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...

I do not think that being married to multiple people decreases your ability to obey rape law in the way driving drunk decreases your ability to obey the rules of the road.

10/21/2010 2:38 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I think we're in a feedback loop here, so allow me to stir the pot with a question to which I don't know the answer:

If we legalized polygamy tomorrow, what would happen?

With gay marriage, we know the answer. Gay couples would be happy. Many religious people would be angry. More kids would be adopted. Great.

With polygamy, it's far less clear. The first thing that would probably happen is fundamentalists moving away from compounds and into mainstream society. Arguably, this would be good, because it would allow easier means of egress for people trapped in that lifestye against their will. Presumably, also, the few polygamous families already living in mainstream communities would get to live more openly. This is also probably a good thing. That's the short term.

What about the long term? Would organizations like the FLDS spread and gain power? Would more young girls eventually become victims of "institutionalize rape," as Patrick put it? It seems likely. On the other hand, if these groups were better integrated with society, it would probably be easier to monitor and prevent such abuses.

Pehaps, due to this, fundamentalist groups would simply remain isolated, but we would be stripped of our best tool to combat them (not that we've been able to make much use of it anyway).

Ultimately, I don't know what would happen. But it is an interesting question. At the very least, I think we can all agree that polygamy is a much more complicated issue than gay marriage.

10/21/2010 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with McTwo, and disagree with you, Armen. There is no benefit to driving drunk (other than saving cab fare), and driving drunk makes it very difficult to drive safely. Al-Qaeda exists to further violence, and so any assembly or speech that it as an organization conducts is inherently promoting violence.

Not so with polygamy. Many people believe that polygamy is their religious calling -- a lot more important that saving cab fare. And many people live in polygamist families happily and safely, without hurting anyone (and without trying to convert anyone), unlike al-Qaeda members.

Dan, I think everything you said about the consequences of legalizing polygamy are probably right, except I don't know why you think that legal polygamy would encourage more people to be polygamists, especially the kind that rape 14 year olds. I very highly doubt that any significant number of people think, "hmm. I'd like to force a fourteen-year-old to marry me and my four other wives, but I won't, because it's illegal." Polygamy is primarily a religious thing, which is why people do it even though it's illegal, and which is why it would unlikely became more prevalent if it were legal. It might become more visible, but that's different.

We could still punish the people raping minors -- maybe more so (maybe not). But I highly doubt this is like legalizing marijuana -- I can imagine there are a lot of people who'd like to try weed but don't because it's illegal. I doubt the same is true of polygamy.

10/21/2010 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just as a point of data and not necessarily an argument, i recall that when SCOTUS upheld the ban on polygamy, it said that experience has shown the practice to be incompatible with constitutional democracy -- that it leads to accumulation of wealth in few and poverty for others.

do we accept the factual premise?

if we do, is that sufficient justification?

10/21/2010 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marriage as an institution has a history of rape, violence, and male domination. Until fairly recently, a man could not be convicted or raping his wife. But because the majority of society participates in "traditional" marriage, we see it fit to allow the institution but punish specific abuses of the institution.

Polygamy has a similar history. But because it is not widely practiced we just ban it instead of trying to ban the specific abuses. And Armen, comparing drunk driving to polygamy is a bit of hyperbole. Driving while drunk reduces your reflexes, attention, and response time, making a crash much more likely. Do you have any evidence that polygamy somehow dulls a person's ability to tell right from wrong or rape from consensual sex?

An additional handicap faced by polygamy is that it is illegal. As a result the vast majority of people who practice polygamy today are likely to do so out of some seriously fundamentalist beliefs. Our views of polygamy are likely strongly shaped by this because almost all the polygamists we see today are very strange.

At the end of the day, the same reasonable arguments that support gay marriage support consensual polygamy. Both are banned because of social and religious mores and both do not hurt other people.

My argument does not extend to non-consensual polygamy or child marriage. We have other laws to deal with these ills and we should enforce them.

10/21/2010 3:07 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Dan, I think everything you said about the consequences of legalizing polygamy are probably right, except I don't know why you think that legal polygamy would encourage more people to be polygamists, especially the kind that rape 14 year olds."

Just to clarify, I did not say I thought that would happen. I only suggested that it might.

And I do think we should remember that, for a long time, the mainstream Mormon church, which populated most of the Utah territory, practiced polygamy. I doubt their rationale for joining was "Hey, I'll get to bang 14 year olds," but that didn't stop them from banging 14 year olds after they joined. It is at least possible that a movement of that size could take hold again, if criminal penalties didn't discourage the behavior.

I agree that laws on the books against statutory rape should be enough to prevent this, but I'm not sure they are.

10/21/2010 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is there a problem with overbreadth? suppose there were evidence that some same sex marriages were abusive. would that be rational grounds to bar all same sex marriages? i sure hope not.

suppose there were evidence that some polygamous marriages, be they polyandry or polygynous, were abusive. would that be grounds to bar plural marriage?

if you come to different answers, why the difference?

10/21/2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...


I think that it is not a matter of whether marriages happen to be abusive, but rather whether certain types of marriage cause or encourage abuse.

I suppose this is just a quibble, but the evidence would need to be, in both cases, that the relevent type of marriage causes abuse.

In that event, I do not think it would be very difficult to defend a ban on either; however, I think that there is a lack of evidence of that causal relationship in either case.

10/21/2010 3:57 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

These posts almost entirely miss the point. As Patrick points out, whether polygamy is objectively harmful is a question without any real answer. The simple response to Justice Scalia's Romer dissent is that the state has an interest in prohibiting polygamy independent of moral disapprobation, namely, preservation of the state's funds. Marriage is a set of legal rights the state chooses to make available between two people. Limiting that benefit to arrangements between only two people preserves the state's resources and gives the legal benefit some significance (if there were no limitation on the number of people, it would be nothing more than a general public benefit).

By contrast, there is no legitimate state interest in limiting marriage based on gender or sexual orientation. Jackie O is right to question the policy of prohibiting polygamy, and I agree that moral disapproval of the practice is not a legitimate basis for its prohibition. But for purposes of analyzing state interests in the context of a 14th Amendment challenge, homosexual marriage and plural marriage are apples and oranges.

10/21/2010 4:17 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well Matt, under your argument, most anti-Bigamy laws would not make sense. The prohibition on polygamy extends beyond merely refusing to provide marriage certificates. The laws prohibit conduct consistent with polygamous marriage, even if the marriage is not formalized. I take it you oppose such laws?

10/21/2010 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, I'm not sure that I understand. Why do polygamous marriages cost the state more money?

10/21/2010 4:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew P. said...

Dan: My post addressed only the state's interest in limiting marriages to two people. Any law that goes beyond that is outside the scope of what I was saying. As for whether I would oppose laws that prohibit "behavior that's consistent with polygamy," the answer is yes. But I oppose laws that prohibit polygamy too. My post was just to point out that the state could assert an interest in prohibiting polygamy that is different from the interest in prohibiting same-sex marriage.

4:28: The reason you don't understand is that I was really careless in my language. A better description of the state interest is "preservation of the marriage benefit" or something like that (the maintenance of which costs some amount of money, but that's really ancillary).

Marriage is a sort of meta-contract. It creates a bunch of little contracts that give legal rights in discrete situations (defined by law). E.g., normally you would have to identify in advance (by contract or other legal instrument) a person who gets your property if you die, who gets to override a hospital's private-property right (under trespass law) when you are treated there, etc. Marriage eliminates that requirement. By getting married, there is a statutory contract that automatically governs in these situations.

Inherent to the existence of this meta-contract is the necessity for a limited number of parties to the contract. So a statutory requirement for that limitation is really just a part of the benefit itself. Simply having the laws and institutions to recognize and enforce the benefit requires some expenditure of state resources, but again I think that's mostly beside the point. The real state interest is in preserving the benefit itself, and limiting the number of participants (to two people or some other number defined by law) is necessary to accomplish that.

10/21/2010 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone is focusing on the effect on women and wives, but my understanding is that the reason so many anti-polygamy laws were passed was to protect men. Because populations tend to have roughly equal numbers of men and women, if polygamy was permitted, men with great resources, charm, etc. would have a disproportionate share of the women, and many men would be left alone. If the state has a legitimate interest in a diversified gene pool and/or ensuring the mental and physical health benefits of marriage are available to the greatest number of citizens, then right there the laws survive rational basis review (though you have to deal with the argument that theoretically women could have multiple husbands, even though this would happen far less often in practice to make the numbers work out).

10/21/2010 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, that protects society. Social science studies have shown that in cultures with an imbalance of marriage availability, crime/violence/war increases. The more men without wives, the more war. I realize correlation does not equal causation.

10/21/2010 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree. My earlier post about the SCOTUS decision raises that issue because, as i recall, it came close to declaring that women are property and allowing polygyny would permit some men to amass lots of property (women) than other men.

10/21/2010 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody knows that every woman is batshit fucking crazy at least 1/4 of the time.

So think of it this way: if you had a car that didn't start roughly two days a week, would you consider backup transportation?

10/21/2010 8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone here has come up with some "great" reasons as to why polygamy damages our society (although each poster has argued something different). However, I'm sure that if we were to go back 140 years in time, the same type of people would give "great" reasons for why free blacks damage our society. If we were to go back as recently as 20-30 years ago, the same type of people would give "great" reasons for why gay marriage damages society. Fortunately, These are no longer "great" reasons because our society has evolved.

It appears that we aren't ready yet for polygamy. But who knows, maybe in 10, 20, or 50 years, we will look back and wonder what the heck were we thinking.

I don't agree with polygamy. However, 20 years ago I probably would not have agreed with gay marriage. And 140 years ago I probably would not have agreed with free blacks. Maybe we should be a little more accepting of others with whom we don't agree . . .

10/21/2010 11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does "cuz then we'd need to put more boxes on our tax forms" count as a good reason?

10/22/2010 1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's simply shocking to me that so many people who haven't lived through the experience of having homosexual parents spout off about the situation in false truisms and absolutes. Dan, you are by far the worst offender. I actually lived through the experience, and I can tell you that it is a life full of shame and castigation. I had the opportunity to meet many, many other children of homosexual children, and all of them--to a 'T'--were painfully shy or otherwise maladjusted. Until you've been mercilessly abused for having "two mommies" or "two daddies" to the point that you become walled off, then please refrain from conjecture. And sure, I was forced to mature quicker, and not buying in to mainstream culture gave me a more analytical vantage point on society, but it was no cakewalk wherein I sat around sipping virgin daiquiris watching Sex in the City.

Most of the homosexual parents were abhorrently absent and self-interested, which, in my case, was a blessing in disguise because it fostered independence of thought and belief. The parents that are around push their children to integrate within the GLBT culture extremely heavily (something I also experienced firsthand--there are even LGBT-specific churches, e.g. the Metropolitan Community Church), leading to increased rates of homosexuality among their children:


I won't get into nature v. nurture, but you're free to draw your own conclusions. The evidence for the Prop 8 case is also far from sound:


I take a lot of what he says with a grain of salt, but it's very true that scientists have confirmation biases when conducting these studies so as not to offend the liberal intelligentsia that holds the key to their jobs being secured for life--i.e., tenure. For example, the latest study that came out laughably said the kids are well-adjusted so long as they're not "stigmatized or bullied:"


Good luck with that... If only I'd grown up in Berkeley, right? A lot of these studies have serious sampling errors due to an inherent self-selection bias: only more affluent homosexuals can pony up the $20,000+ it costs to adopt a baby. Also, my mother had 7 partners from when I was born to when I turned 18. While that number seems high, from my experience of knowing roughly 40-45 homosexual men and women personally, it wasn't too far above average. For the scores of other people that I knew on a more indirect level, that same conclusion held true.

10/24/2010 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


[Also, the commenter who pointed out that marriage was an institution created to help beta males and lesser-desired females, here's your support: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100054718/the-man-with-15-kids-by-14-women-the-welfare-state-has-turned-back-the-clock-to-one-million-bc/]

Is this all to say that civil unions for gay people is a bad idea? Not at all. I'm very libertarian when it comes to this issue, but to go through the analysis in such an arrogant and pedestrian manner really irritates me as a person who has actually lived through it--not merely run through a sanitized version in my head.

Also, I take exception to one of the early comments that essentially called for outlawing polygamy because some things "should just be outlawed" while accompanying it with a weak reference to collateral maladies caused by polygamy. I think the idea of banning polygamy practiced for religious purposes is equally as offensive as banning homosexuals from entering into state-recognized union. In what way is one action a less-meddlesome form of social engineering than the other? Does polygamy count merely because of your underlying distaste of "religious fundamentalism?"

States shouldn't be in the business of marriage. (States can and do protect 14-year-old girls and women from rape with sexual assault statutes). States (and federal governments) should also not be in the business of subsidizing moral debate with court decisions.

10/24/2010 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a rough go. But a lot of people have shitty parents, and a lot of kids get bullied. I'd wager it's still better than foster care.

10/24/2010 11:34 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/24/2010 11:57 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I'm not sure how I'm "by far the worst offender," when I think the extent of what I said was that there was not enough evidence in the Prop 8 case to convince Judge Walker that gay parents were inferior to straight parents. Which is, you know, factually accurate.

Also, I think it's interesting that the main issue you complain of facing as the child of gay parents is rampant bullying from other kids--something that has nothing to do with parenting. If more "offenders" like me were more ok with gay marriage, you would probably have been bullied less.

Or maybe not, because you could still be fat or dumb or ugly or short or tall or have head gear or smell weird or be poor or be Mormon or like science fiction or be in the band or exist in any number of the 1,000 or so states that lead to kids bullying you. In any of these cases, the best thing to do is try to get over it.

10/25/2010 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He mentioned a lot more than just being bullied . . .

10/25/2010 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone else enjoying the biz ass private tutoring session?

10/25/2010 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tal1ey called him out on it today, but it didn't seem to make a difference. I really hate that guy.

10/25/2010 6:04 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Somebody should order a Code Red.

10/25/2010 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no registration thread?

10/25/2010 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The parents that are around push their children to integrate within the GLBT culture extremely heavily (something I also experienced firsthand--there are even LGBT-specific churches, e.g. the Metropolitan Community Church), leading to increased rates of homosexuality among their children"

I had this exact same experience except my straight parents were pushing me to integrate within the straight culture extremely heavily. It also lead to increased rates of heterosexuality among their children.

10/25/2010 10:09 PM  
Blogger James said...

I don't think it's the sex part that's being legislated against, but the marriage part. If one dude takes all of the women, what about the rest of us? Must we become eunuchs and guard the harems?

7/12/2011 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, can we go back to the original post here? This isn't someone asking the state to recognize multiple marriages. It's just saying, "I don't want to be penalized for having sex with people I care about outside of my legally recognized marriage."

How is that any different than someone saying, "I don't the government has any right to criminalize adultery"? Are the anti-polygamy posters here also in favor of anti-adultery legislation?

7/12/2011 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get the men hoarding argument, bill gates is able to provide for ten thousand wives better than most dead beats in the inner city can provide for one. Men who are not desirable being unable to have children seems socially beneficial if anything. Too many women end up unhappy because they marry some chump from the bottom of the barrel. I know from my own experience dating multiple women that they would rather share a prize than date a chump. polygamy is only a loss for deadbeat men

7/12/2011 10:45 AM  
Blogger James said...


You, sir, sound like you know what it takes to be a polygamist.

And, it's true, all women want is money.

7/12/2011 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:45, you sound like a real prize. You should give out your info - I'd like to set you up with my sister and female friends so they can share you instead of continuing to mess around with those inner city chumps! I'd ask Bill Gates, but I don't have his phone number and you're clearly the next best option.


7/12/2011 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of good points here. What strikes me is that, even stipulating that it's between consensual adult, polygamy does seem to always be a man taking on multiple wives. Are there examples of the reverse? Women taking on multiple male partners? Not sure, but I don't think so (if there are, they can't be of Mormon faith, right?) Assuming not, unless you make a fairly essentialist argument about female sexuality, it seems like polygamy is pretty inextricably tied to a culture of female subjugation. Not sure how that translates to policy considerations, etc., but that certainly colors it with a major ick factor. Maybe that's an obvious point. This is my first N&B comment, so go easy on me, porfa.

7/12/2011 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think polyandry has been historically less common than polygyny, but the word "polygamy" doesn't inherently exclude the former. And if there's no subjugation involved, I don't have a moral problem with it, despite the knotty legal/contractual problems involved. I'd join a Salma Hayek or Christina Hendricks man-harem in a heartbeat

7/12/2011 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh marriage is pretty much only about money, its a contractual system... Its pretty much fact the vast majority of couples look outside their marriage for the romantic elements... and girls can say what they want about not sharing guys.. They love competition and they love fighting for something highly valued that's just the reality.

7/13/2011 12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, 1244, someone didn't get much love as a child, did he.

7/14/2011 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a factual note - I do know of one woman with two husbands. They're not Mormon, obviously. She's pagan, don't know about the husbands. I certainly support their right to live together and raise their child, but of course they're in CA so I don't even know if there is a law against that. But that's not the same think as supporting polygamous marriages. Marriage implicates a host of laws, most of which are not equipped to deal with multiple spouses.

8/05/2011 1:22 PM  

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