Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ABA Journal: Are Laws Barring Polygamy Destined to Fall? Law Prof Defends Marriage of Two

And so it begins.  Legal same sex marriage is at its tipping point, and that means it won't be long before multi-partner marriage will be debated more seriously in the US than ever before.  Heres the link to an American Bar Association Journal article pointed out to me by Matthew C. Berntsen, Esq.

Are Laws Barring Polygamy Destined to Fall? Law Prof Defends Marriage of Two

John Witte Jr., is director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, and author of a forthcoming title, “Why Two in One Flesh: The Western Case for Monogamy over Polygamy.”   The ABA Journal article discusses a piece Mr. Witte authored entitled "Why Monogamy is Natural"  (how many times have we heard that one???) and published by the Washington Post last month in it's Guest Voices blog for "Other Views on Faith and Its Impact on the News."  It seems to me to demonstrate Witte to be a fundamentalist Christian first and a law professor second.  He relies only on information that is the standard party line according to the likes of the The Institute for American Values, the primary home of leaders of the (traditional) marriage movement.  Perhaps we should ship him a copy of Sex at Dawn.  And a couple dozen for him to share. 

My comment on the ABA article is WAY down the list at #126, in which I say:
Mr. Witte needs to do his homework. There are significant numbers of people today who practice egalitarian polyamory. They are not fundamentalist Mormons, and their relationships have nothing to do with religion. Community standards are very much based on equality for all those involved. Many polyamorists have long-term love relationships that last decades. Those whose families live in households of more than two adults find that there is more abundance of everything - more income, more love and support, more hands to care for sick partners and children.
So when the time comes and the question of multi-partner marriage is addressed by the law in the U.S., there will be a great many people standing up and pointing out that if it is decided purely on the question of issues that are irrelevant to the non-religious, egalitarian polyamorous population, a great injustice will be done by denying the fundamental human right of family to those who love and commit to more than one adult, and in so doing, harm no one.
For the record, the Canadian case referenced in another comment included an intervenor non-profit group given status by the Court, the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.


dave94015 said...

Unfortunately, the "conventional wisdom" about polygamy (arising from it's recently documented negative effects) could also be expanded into polyamorous relationships by these legal experts without any concern for scientific studies.
I'm glad that you see the possibility of expanding same-sex marriage to include multiple partners. Those who would like to legalize polyamory have their work cut out for themselves.

Anita Wagner Illig said...

Dave, indeed we do. I personally am not convinced that this is the right approach. My preference would be to get government out of marriage entirely and grant benefits to individual earners and then to their designated heirs. Marriages could still be celebrated with as much ritual and meaning as those involved wish, and they can be blessed by the church all day long. This would even the playing field, if you will. Retooling a massive government benefits and records system that was designed for only two parties, is likely to be a massive amount of work and would require a massive amount of funding to make it happen. And even then, single people are still left out of the cold while others who are attached get the government benefits.

For now we are more concerned with educating the mainstream about polyamory and dispelling misconceptions about us - one thing we DO have very much in common with the Mormon polygamists.