Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Polygamy Revisited

In discussing yesterday's comments, TheWife suggested a post extending and clarifying the polygamy portion of the argument. Fortunately, Lindsay over at Majikthise has done it for me and, no doubt, better.

We need to remember what the original claim was -- the slippery slope claim that if you allow gay marriage, you are forced to allow polygamous marriage. The point is that same-sex marriage does not require any structural changes to our current notion of marriage, just admitting that gay and lesbian couples deserve equal treatment under the law. While there is nothing inherently morally problematic about polygamous marriage contracts and we certainly could negotiate them, they provide a structurally different model that requires a redefinition of our notion of marriage.

Of course, these definitions are just legal constructs and we could reconfigure them any way we choose, but physicists figured out long ago that the three body problem has no exact solution and the same would be true in this case. No matter how carefully you negotiated and tried to work out the contract with multiple spouses, that damn reality is going to eventually throw a situation at you that will cause a conflict of rights that would not be a problem for marriage between couples, regardless of the distribution of genitalia. It is not a difference of degree, it is a difference of kind. And the fact that it is a difference in kind stops the slippery slope. It isn't that we can't allow polygamous marriage, it's that we aren't forced to allow it under our current structure. But that is what the conservatives want you to believe.

Oh, and the part about Lassie not being able to marry Timmy because he was really a male dog...actually he was trans-species -- a female cat trapped inside a male dog's body. I think it could have worked, but it was the 50's and you know how repressive the whole time period was... Nobody talked about things like that back then.