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The Courts

Journal memfree's Journal: Polygamy, Sodomy, and Santorum 22

I'm looking for input on a specific side-issue to the following.

Senator Rick Santorum (R., PA) commented on the Texas/Gay Sex issue before the Supreme Court (quoted from local newspaper -- a local TV station's blurb omits the second part) :

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."
"All of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family," Santorum said. "And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist, in my opinion, in the United States Constitution."

While Santorum has a point, I think he went too far overboard with his statements. First, "consensual" pretty much rules out what we think of as incest because law (and child psychology) already establish that we cannot expect children to be capable of giving meaningful consent when confronted with an adult -- especially when the adult is an authority figure. Second, I always worry when elected officials make statements *against* a right to privacy (want it reserved to people -- but save that for another day).

I see his point on this part: how can The Court determine that a state has no business violating a gay couple's privacy, but *does* have the right to violate the privacy of bigamists/polygamists? The simple argument is to say that states may not investigate ANY consensual sex, but states *do* have the right grant marriages to only consenting partners consisting of a single man plus a single woman -- which is public record and entirely outside the privacy issue (oh, and from here on, I'll lump bigamists in with polygamists).

In my mind, the above causes a problem for the very people protesting Santorum's remarks. Not only do homosexuals want bedroom privacy, they also want legal gay marriages with the same standing as currently-legal marriages .... and this is the side-topic I'd like to pursue.

Regardless of opinions for or against non-religious Civil Unions of gay couples, I would like to hear compelling arguments that assert, "gay marriage should be legal, but not polygamy." I've already heard plenty of arguments for keeping both illegal, so there's no need to repeat those arguments here.

So far, the best argument I've heard for a distinction is the (weak) claim that while we can assume gay unions to be consensual, polygamy is too often nonconsensual, and therefore it is in the interest of the government and its citizens to allow the former but forbid the latter (as keeping polygamy illegal protects poor helpless under-educated girls).

I'd like to hear a better argument for forbidding all from marrying more than one other person, but allowing any single, consenting adult to marry any other single, consenting adult. Anyone got one?

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Polygamy, Sodomy, and Santorum

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  • Why do we need to have "civil unions" in the first place? Why should the state have any say in what I do (or do not do) in my bedroom and in my personal household? In fact, why do we give pair-bonded adults certain rights, permissions, and obligations that non-pair-bonded adults do not have? Why should I need to "legitimize" my private relationships with some outside socializing agency?

    Basically, people's bitch with Santorum is with his reactionary "traditional family" (whatever that means) bullshit:
    • Civil unions are purposeful only for government-involved programs. Taxation, insurance, medical/dental benefits - these things rely upon legally-defined relationships to provide certain levels and aspects of coverage. They are neccesary in most governments these days.

      However, the ability to obtain civil unions or other variations of legal relationship should not be based on gender qualifications.

      Moving well beyond the issues of gender and orientation, what about the wide variety of non-intimate relationsh
    • Why do we need to have "civil unions" in the first place? Why should the state have any say in what I do (or do not do) in my bedroom and in my personal household? In fact, why do we give pair-bonded adults certain rights, permissions, and obligations that non-pair-bonded adults do not have? Why should I need to "legitimize" my private relationships with some outside socializing agency?

      Right there with you. The history of marrage revolves around property rights and transfers with a little "liniage of the
      • ...to my next question:

        Is there a better way to do this? (I don't know about in your jurisdictions, but in mine, you can get tax benefits on something called "equivalent-to-spouse," but for some gov't programmes that unconstitutional common-law/spouse-in-the-house rule will get you every time.)

        Personally, I don't care one way or the other about whether other people want to get legally/religiously married; I would just like it to matter less, since I'm not too keen on it myself. (I also know a woman wh
        • My view is that nobody should get any special status for anything, including marrage.

          If you need welfare and meet the financial qualifications, then you get it. If not you don't.

          If you have stuff to give away at your death, whomever you say gets it, gets it.

          If you want to assist your employees with insurance, so be it. If you want them to add a friend, fine too. If you want a third party to determine what friends qualify, fine with me. Use any or all of that with recruiting. Sorry, the "spouses get
          • Off topic but ... I expect that eliminating all marriages/unions would make laws and government *more* complicated.

            Government issued licenses (rather than religious ceremonies) for marriage/unions/what-have-yous are intended to ratify a decision that each licensee will enter into a partnership in which they share their rights, responsibilities, property, and debts with the other licensee(s). They pay the government a fee to have their shared-status publicly and legally recorded.

            It makes sense that states
            • I agree with both you and GMontag -- is that cognitive dissonance, or what? I'm still not entirely sure why there has to be a legal recognition of a "committed relationship," whatever that is (everyone who's tried to explain this to me so far has failed), that extends beyond a standard (or even boilerplate) reciprocal power-of-attorney -- which might just be a better way, for those of us for whom this is an issue (YMMV, personally and jurisdictionally, of course).

              I like GMontag's idea that some things sh
            • Cuba has an even more simple system than that. Sorry, I am not going to go there to sign up.
  • The problem with the request is that the simplicity of it is the problem. Why shouldn't any legally single, adult be able to marry and other legally single adult with consent from both - current laws barring immediate family, etc still effective?

    If you set aside religious convictions and prejudices, there is no decent reason to prevent any two people meeting the above qualifications from forming a civil union, thereby granting them the privileges of legal marriage.

    This goes beyond homosexual marriage. Rig
    • Why shouldn't any legally single, adult be able to marry any other legally single adult with consent from both ?

      <Devil's Advocate> Current laws only allow traditional marriage. When you start allowing non-traditional marriages of any kind, how can you justify limiting marriage to the tradition of just two people? If you're already breaking with the religious underpinnings and long standing tradition, why not keep going and allow 3+ unions? How can you say, "This immoral union is now legal, but tha
      • It comes down to society's acceptance and comfort level. Even were the general populace to allow same-sex unions, polygamy would likely still be considered immorral on a large enough scale to prevent its acceptance.

        My thoughts
        Social acceptance of issues, no matter how different or similar, take place on an issue-by-issue basis. Maybe someday there will be no restrictions on marriage or civil unions. But each change is its own battle, with its own moral questions, its own social implications, and, ultimat
  • Nowadays in the U.S.A., being pro family means hating gays and against any kind of abortion.

    Just like anti crime means pro death penalty.

    Sad really...

  • ...What I traditionally think of as incest is not what you described at all. Incest to me is sex between immediate family members, not between adults and children (although that would be included if they are part of the same family, that's what's widely known as child abuse, as far as I am concerned). Incest could be between two consenting adult siblings. Child sexual abuse, while also terrible, is indeed illegal by the sheer fact that we've dubbed sex with any children illegal, but as far as I know, bey
    • Point taken. I, too, get an 'Ewwww' reaction of grossness at the idea of an adult offspring having sexual interest in their parent.

      The idea is so alien to me that I guess I jump to the assumption that the most likely way for parent/offspring sex to occur is when a parent manipulates a still-young child into such acts. This is even more despicable in my mind, but it gets so much news coverage that I must accept the fact that it occurs (where as adult incest seems much less reported).
  • I believe that the government should recognize civil unions, but not marriages. This way, you could designate anybody of your choice to be your civil partner. This person would recieve whatever benefits we typically set aside for married people. Marriage would be a personal commitment between two or more people and their religion, if that's their thing. You could only have one civil partner (to limit financial drain on the state), but as many marriage partners as you deem necessary.
    • Let's suppose the government only issues civic union licenses and also that many folks who receive religiously santified marriages also choose to enter this legal agreement (probably because it simplfies other legal matters).

      Who could legaly enter into a civil union? Only a single male and single female? Only those who expressed a desire for particular sub-conditions (maybe a test is required, or maybe only those intending to raise children can apply)? Any two consenting adults of any sex? Any number o
      • I think that civil unions would most often be used for married people, but my intent is not to make them equivalent. I'm having one of those Libertarian days, where I think that the governement has no business in people's romantic relations. I do, however, believe that it is perfectly appropriate to be able to designate one person as your dependent/beneficiary who otherwise wouldn't be.

        I was actually thinking that civil unions could be between anybody. For example, if your elderly mother can't afford me
  • Senator in Heated Exchange With Parents of Gay Children [nytimes.com]

    The question of why polygamy (et cetera) is good or bad is irrelevent -- neither Santorum nor anyone here's considering taking up the practice, right? -- but for what it's worth:

    • Many ex-polygamists denounce polygamy as a form of spouse abuse. I don't understand their issue enough to argue it -- if the problem really is "poor, helpless, undereducated girls", then banning polygamy is at best a partial solution.
    • Institutions that supported polygamy -

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