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If the slope is slippery, then it's marriage itself that wet it!

by Jeremy Hooper

The concept of multiple partner marriage either has or doesn't have merit. The activists who might fight for the legal recognition of the same either have a set of sound arguments or they do not. Because we have a system known as civil marriage, poly advocates have the potential to seek entry.

This reality is why it's so insanely obnoxious/disingenous for our organized opposition to keep asking the gay community to answer for any and all potential polyamorous marriage activism that might come down the pipe. Conservatives like Focus of the Family's Bruce Hausknecht often say things like the following:

"...once you re-define marriage to include same-sex couples, you create a logic hurdle you can’t clear in attempting to say 'ok, same-sex marriage but no more, that’s it.'"
Robert George – Marriage Redefinition and Beyond [FOF's Drive Thru blog]

And it's obvious why they do so: Because they know that the idea of multi-partner marriage will scare some who might be okay with the concept of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. But it couldn't be more of a red herring. Yes, poly marriage advocates would likely use some similar arguments revolving around the legislation of morality and the separation of church and state. But so would advocates for removing "under God "from the pledge of allegiance. So did those who fought to get prayer out of public schools. That's because these are basic, no-brainer arguments that define religious/civil fairness if America. You can't force every group to answer for every unrelated movement's activism, simply because some of the basic arguments might overlap!

Human beings are of their own free will. A group has the right to fight to change America's name to Strawberry Jam, if they so wish. But if and when that fight comes, it will be the existence of America and nomenclature as concepts that lead to the advocacy, not any other group who might have successfully fought for some kind of name change. And when our branches of government weigh in on whether we become the United States of Smuckers, it will be the case's own merits upon which the matter will be decided.

On the day that our government got in the business of marriage, they opened the door for any variation under the sun. But it's intellectually dishonest to act as if one crew's reasoned entry is a hinge-ripping battering ram that will leave a gaping hole through which all subsequent arrangements will effortlessly sail. And its offensive to our branches of government to suggest that lucid progress is dependent on fear-mongery predictions, or that all restrictive power is removed because one band of determined and principled people successfully removed an unfair impediment. In earning our rights, we gay folk might set a precedent in terms of freedom But we will not create a legal barometer that measures a movement's ability to piggyback rather than its own criterion.

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Your thoughts

Of course you need to legalize gay marriage before you can allow polygamy, the Mormons were polygamist and they just LOVE gays.

Posted by: penguinsaur | Aug 5, 2009 11:22:44 AM

If we let two people get married, what's next? Three people? 50 people? If this is supposed to be an argument against marriage equality, it's an argument against *all* marriage.

Posted by: ZJ | Aug 5, 2009 11:34:47 AM

Exactly, ZJ. It's kind of like with our system of voting: There is, in theory, the potential for 5-year-olds to someday earn the right. But the potential change is not because of the 26th amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18. It's because voting exists at all that the possibility for reconsideration exists! The proposed changes will and should be decided on their individual merits.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 5, 2009 11:50:34 AM

Personally I do not care if an entire village wants to get hitched. So long as they are consenting adults, I don't really see why anyone would care how other people want to spend their lives. The only thing I think that would be truely difficult about making that legal are the division of property and such when a home of three or more gets divorced. I mean, say Sally Sue wants to divorce Sam and Sarah-what would she be entitled to? Half of what Sam has or half of the household? And what if she only wants to divorce Sam and not Sarah? The whole situation seems really complicated, but fortunately it's not a situation I will find myself in so if they want to give it a go, who am I or anyone else to say no?

I will say though to all those right wingers that are so hell bent on blocking gay unions, why don't you worry about the poly child brides in Utah? Hows about we worry about some poor 12 year old girl having to wed a creepy 70 year old man who already has children three times his new wife's age? Oh wait, I forgot. If its a man and a woman, it's all good.

I know the government has it's purpose and all, but the last time I checked I married my husband-not the government. They don't check with me on stuff so why should they or anyone else have a say in my marriage or anyone other adult's?

Posted by: Mrs. M | Aug 5, 2009 12:55:27 PM

These people have been talking about slippery slopes for as long as there have been slopes and slimy goo. And, linking hell and "handbaskets" since they learned that they could use the words hell and handbasket in the same phrase (Helena Handbasket would make a great drag name).

When they have to resort to the slippery slope arguments, though, it's pretty clear that they have abandoned all hope that they will be able to continue to demonize us just because of who we are. They are admitting that they're losing the PR war against us, and that even many of their own are not buying the fear-and-hate-of-LGBTs angle any more. They have to go with phobia promoting lies about a bigger, scarier, all encompassing farce of a society gone wild on the drunkenness of "debauchery".

It's really a desperation plea. They know that they can't win on the merits of their argument, so they pull out all the stops in a last ditch effort.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 5, 2009 1:02:55 PM

As an out-and-proud queer in a VERY conservative religious university, I argue with equality opponents on a fairly regular basis. Whenever they bring up the slippery slope, I bring in this line of dialogue:

Me: Why are some substances legal while others are not?
Equality Opponent: Because some are dangerous to humans, while others aren't.
Me: So they judge each substance on its own merits when deciding which substances should be illegal.
EO: Yes.
Me: Do you think that if they legalized the use of household bleach in food production, someone would on that basis be justified in arguing for the legalization of LSD?
EO: No.
Me: Are all legal decisions, then, based on their individual merits?
EO: Yes.
Me: Is same-sex marriage the same thing as polygamy?
EO: No.
Me: Then would the legalization of same-sex marriage mean that poly advocates would on that basis be justified in arguing for the legalization of polygamous marriage?
EO: [silence]

Posted by: Liberty U Student | Aug 5, 2009 10:28:16 PM

Okay, wait a minute: A bona fide Liberty Univ. queer?! We need stories and FAST!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 5, 2009 10:34:30 PM

The best response to this concept I've ever heard was from a gay man who said:

"I just want the right to marry a man.

Not a dog — no one has that right.

Not a child — no one has that right

Not a close relative or a whole group of people — no one has that right.

I just want the right to marry a man — and half the population already has that right. I just want to extend it to the entire population. So that men and women are equal under the law. That’s completely different from those other examples."


That said, I have nothing against poly marriages. The thing is, a whole new set of laws regarding property, rights, etc among the people in the group would have to be written. If it's a marriage involving more than 2 people, the current laws, benefits, and stuff aren't adequate and would need to be expanded/modified.

With a same-sex marriage, absolutely nothing about marriage laws would have to be changed -- except to allow them.

That's not an argument against poly marriages, just an additional hurdle that polygamist groups would have to clear, and a bit of new legislation. But to grant rights like these to *consenting adults* is worth the effort.

Posted by: Donna | Aug 5, 2009 11:31:46 PM

Well there was that one time in my sophomore year when I had a total closet case for a roommate...

Posted by: Liberty U Student | Aug 6, 2009 12:23:47 PM

The Mormon church would be fighting for gay marriage right now if they thought the ruling would let them have multiple spouses down the road.

Posted by: krissy | Aug 7, 2009 12:41:08 PM

Liberty U Student, I hope you have been keeping a diary! The movie rights alone could be worth millions!

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 7, 2009 9:38:47 PM

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