Gay Marriage Today — Polygamy Tomorrow?

A column by Ross Douthat in The New York Times (June 3) with the title “The Fascinating Politics of Polygamy” deals with a subject that is, as far as I know, new to Canada.

This is the opening:

“There have been a number of interesting comments related to the new Gallup data showing America’s socially liberal shift continuing apace, but before I get to them I want to offer one more word on the data point I plucked out for my Sunday column: the appreciable increase in public acceptance of polygamy.

“In my column, I argued that this (still on the margins) shift was of a piece with other liberalizing trends, not only on same-sex marriage but also on divorce and unwed childbearing and assisted suicide and more, while also noting that polygamy is distinctive within that issue set because its most famous practitioners often belong to deeply illiberal religious communities.”

And later in his column he asks this question:

“Will the constituency for a secular, liberal polygamy gradually increase, as it has to some modest (though perhaps sometimes overhyped) extent already? Put another way, will the growing acceptance of polyamory as a model for nonmarital relationships – I have at least one friend in an explicitly “polyamorous” dating situation, and I’m not even a millennial! – eventually translate into more experiments in actual plural marriage, and thus more demand for legal recognition? Or will institutional polygamy always remain too fringe (and too associated with patriarchal exploitation and abuse) to have the constituency needed to push liberal courts into action?”

No doubt this discussion will soon cross the border.


5 responses to “Gay Marriage Today — Polygamy Tomorrow?

  1. David Schatzky

    Freedom of choice is ever-expanding. The more varieties of “contracts” between and among individuals emerge and become normalized, the more there’s a demand to legitimize and extend rights associated with traditional relationships to every kind of relationship. Seems inevitable?

  2. Jan Krouzil

    Is the legal recourse towards resolving contentious ‘freedom of choice’ issues emblematic of a transition from religion-bound ‘democratic’ politics to secularized contract-bound ‘juristocratic’ rule-making? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  3. Alan Pearson

    Don’t forget polyandry.


    Is Warren Buffett the trendsetting polyamorist?

  5. curmudgeon

    The issue has already crossed the border, in Bountiful, BC, where Winston Blackmore admits to having two dozen wives and scores of children, and claims that attempts to prosecute him infringe his religious freedoms as a member of a fringe Mormon sect.