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Thursday, July 14. 2011
At Reason, Kody Brown and His Four "Wives" -Do anti-polygamy laws violate the Constitution?
Polygamy has an ancient tradition, remains widespread in Moslem countries and is practiced quietly in Mormon communities. Although it is not in the European tradition (except among the wealthy and the nobility for whom marriage was just in name only), why should it be illegal? In fact, a felony? It harms nobody, and probably makes for a cleaner and more orderly household.
The religious topic is a separate one, and should have little to do with the legal matters. The Libertarian point that is made is that it's legal to live your whole life with, and bear kids with, as many women as you want - it's just illegal to marry more than one of them at a time. Same goes for gals: you can live with all the guys you can collect - just can't marry them all at once.
As we enter the post-gay marriage era, it's time to be open to all sorts of government-approved marital arrangements. Isn't it? What business is it of the government if you want to be married to Bill, Jane, Sally, Bob, and Lauren as one big happy family?
Heather has three Daddies and three Mommies, etc.
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Agree. The Gov't should not be in the marriage business at all.
Except for protecting minors, anyone should be able to marry anyone. And no tax business around this either.
The religious organizations are in the marriage business. That, births and deaths make them dough.
Remember that poor bastard they hounded down in Texas a few years ago? Here's how I phrased it at the time:
"We now live in a nation where you're invited, even encouraged, to marry someone of your own sex, but if you marry more than one person of the opposite sex, you're thrown in prison."
I'm sure that makes sense in somebody's world.
Opponents of civil (gay) marriage used to argue that if gay marriage were allowed, we would inevitably see efforts to overturn current state laws against polygamy and polyandry. At the time, the supporters of civil unions dismissed these arguments as being highly overwrought, as well as legally a total non-sequitur. Guess what? The "inevitable" is just around the corner.
Coop is right. The same argument that pro-gay marriage folks used could be used against laws against marrying your sister (or brother).
The issue of polygamy is substantively different because presumably, the polygamist argument is for same sex marriage. I'm unaware of anyone proposing proposing that if a man has several wives that the wives could then marry each other. But then it would only be a matter of time, I suppose.
At some point, the question of what is "marriage" needs to be answered. We've been told for decades that all the changes to marriage (divorce, no-fault divorce, gay marriage, etc.) would not do harm to the institute of marriage. That we have so many kids being raised by single parents (moms mostly) and that we have to wonder what marriage really means is an indication that they were wrong. When marriage can mean whatever you want it to mean it will still exist but it then has no meaning.
Well, but it does have a legal meaning, a property-contractual meaning.
Would part of its legal meaning be who can be married to each other?
#2 Dr. Mercury, I think it's worse than that. Right now a man can shack up with as many women as he wants and have as many kids as he wants and there's nothing illegal about it. Whether the government can track him down and force him to pay for the expenses of raising those children is iffy, at best.
However, if he makes the mistake of saying he wants to "marry" more than one of those women (which means saying you are willing to take legal responsibility for their welfare and the children you might have with them), you are deemed to have committed a felony and get sent away to prison for a long time.
Whole setup seems totally irrational to me.
Then is marriage nothing more than a legal contract? I think there is the aspect of a social contract. That's what I think has suffered.
I have for some time advocated State household law as an offshoot of contract and property law: people getting together to set up a household. Three types of households: recognized, unrecognized, and illegal. Recognized households have statutory protection. Unrecognized means the State you live in may not be able to provide you much help if things go awry (because We the People don't want to spend our hard-earned tax dollars to sort out the mess of a hippie commune gone bust). Illegal means the obvious: adult-minor, maybe incestuous, coercive and servile relationships.
Coupled with household law is family law, which sorts outs who's responsible/liable for the kids.
Finally, leave marriage to We the People to define for ourselves. We know what it is. People getting together and publicly in front of their family and friends stating their lifetime commitment to fidelity and caring, and often in the framework of their religion, that these are sacred vows.
From the govt-legal standpoint, everything is a legal contract.
I'm not disagreeing with you. I think there is a social point that is missing and for the most part, religion used to hold up that end, but now religion has lost a lot of its importance and influence.
Household Law. Interesting. But what is a household? Is Granny in the upstairs bedroom part of the legal household? What about crazy cousin Billy who you gave the basement room to live in while he gets his act together? What about extended family households, like on farms?
Under Griswold v. Conn., any sexual relationship between consenting adults is permitted. So gay marriage, polygamy, polyandry and prostitution are constitutionally protected activities.
We will be lucky to exclude pedophilia and bestiality.
Suck it up and get with the program.
If polygamy is legal, and I have 10 wives (I should be so strong, and so wealthy) (and 10 mothers-in-law [I should be so much stronger]), do I get 10 tax exemptions?
Any man who wants more than one wife will get exactly what he deserves :) That being said, it isn't the government's job to to telling someone whom they can marry.
Monogamous marriage is a societal protection of women and children.
Polygamous marriage will erode those protections, as it will be men, not women, who seek multiple spouses, and the wives in such an arrangement can never be on an equal footing with their lord and master.
On the other hand, given that gender selective abortion has wiped out some 160 million females in Asia, maybe men will adapt to becoming "brother husbands" to the dwindling number of women of marriage age.
There are householders, and dependents. There may be junior and senior householders. Imagine an adult child living with you home from college and/or the Army. Typically parents treat them as junior partners, since they don't own the house, but they are adults now and have a say in the affairs of the household.
Children are obviously dependents. Adults who contribute to the value of the household are full householders. Adults who earn their keep, but don't contribute/merge their assets to the household, are junior householders. So granny would be a junior householder. Crazy cousin Billy would be a dependent.
So make the law like this: you can only be a full householder of one household. Conjugal relations automatically gives full household rights. Solves the polygamy problem of lord and master dad and a passel of subordinate wives.
If you have ten wives, then all of you are married filing jointly, or married filing separately. In my household proposal, you could only file separately if each of you has both independent income, and declare all income allocated to you from the household. So dad would have to make payments to all the wives.
The objective would be to prevent arbitrage of different tax rates and exemption values to shield income by having wives living in poverty.
Let's see... Muhammadans and Mormens practice poligamy so it must be swell.
Take a look at what other depravities these folks practice and try to be sober.
"What business is it of the government if you want to be married to Bill, Jane, Sally, Bob, and Lauren as one big happy family?"
And what happens when the parties to such a union want it dissolved and there are children involved? Who pays alimony to whom? Who's responsible for the child support? What if one of the parties to a multi-culti union dies. Who inherits what? Do you really want the court system to have to face dealing with questions like these when today it can barely get things fairly sorted out in legal battles over traditional marriages and divorces?
A whole new cadre of civil servants, legislators, and lawyers will find employment fleshing out the new rules. Mark my words, the additional laws to cover such living arrangements will inevitably INCREASE rather than decrease the intrusion of government into our private lives. The Law of Unintended Consequences will produce just the opposite effect of what you think.
Robert Heinlein often wrote of polygamy in his various sci-fi novels. I wouldn't have thought much of the subject until encountering his works. I've had many discussions with learned and thoughtful friends and acquaintances over the possibility and practicality of polygamy (there are many different forms to consider). Our mutual conclusions tended towards...
(1) serial monogamy is just another form of polygamy, and we already do that - a lot (unfortunately).
(2) most of marriage law seems to be oriented around property, and laws governing corporations (specifically non-profits?) seem to handle the distribution of property at time of corporate dissolution.
(3) serial monogamy (and promiscuity that produces children) is a great way to disperse (and destroy) the capital stocks of families. This keeps a lot of people much poorer than they otherwise should be. (This is part of a larger theme on destruction of capital, particularly social capital, that happened as a consequence of the massive urban shift in the population: extended families were broken up, but nothing modern seems to have stepped up to fill the void.)
(4) child support could be worked out fairly easily, with the "family" (as a corporate entity) responsible for the child until majority age, even if the child is no longer part of the family (severed through some form of divorce). Advantage in custody disputes would be given to biological parents.
...anyway, I think it could be worked out. Furthermore, a civil union of two or more families wouldn't necessarily have to conflict with religious values anymore than those families forming a non-profit corporation. (Again, there are many forms of polygamy.)
Why do I have to research to determe why polygamy is a sin?
Furthermore, why do I have to research why it is illegal?
The combined wealth, stability, and believe it or not fidelity of such an arrangement seems so pragmatic that I question how the "Establishment Clause" has been ignored with respect to this issue. It is literallly in the bible.
Be it one man or one women as being the source of resposiblity for his or her brood, is this any differnt than the government taking on the same responsibilty?
Since adultery is no longer a crime, how can polygamy which could provide adequate support for a number of people who could not receives such support without the government, be a crime?
What is the hang up?
What is the fear?
Rich people supporting more people? God forbid!
I just don't see why polygamy is illegal.