The oral arguments regarding Proposition 8 and DOMA before the Supreme Court had people asking some difficult questions.
Many were abstruse and legally nuanced, but one was simple and clear:
Can our society live up to the promise of equality, and the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if we continue to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation?
Then let's grease up that slippery slope.
Why do we discriminate on the basis of non-monogamous orientation?
Why aren't those arguing for marriage equality including marriage among multiple consenting adults as well?
If the government has no power to discriminate against relationships involving two consenting adults of the same gender, then why does it have the power to discriminate against multiple consenting adults of any gender?
Once upon a time, women were chattel and offspring were protected assets.
Marriage largely developed as an institution to safeguard the transmission of property down a blood line.
The two cases heard by the Supremes this week planted a time bomb under this presupposition.
Polygamy is enshrined in the Bible, and widely practiced in Africa and the Middle East.
Laws against multiple marriages in the US were originally enacted in response to 19th-century Mormon polygamy.
(Ironically, Proposition 8 passed, largely due to Morman church funding of the initiative.)
Some people believe that if the Supreme Court expands the definition of marriage to include same-sex partners, the legalization of polygamous marriages would be next.
In her questioning Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked: "If you say that marriage is a fundamental right, what state restrictions could ever exist?" She went on to wonder if the state could place "restrictions with respect to the number of people [that could marry each other]."
The issue was summarized by culture warrior Rush Limbaugh on his 3/26/13 radio show.
"RUSH: Where does this freedom to do what you want stuff stop?
CALLER: Well, I think if you were talking about like a three-party marriage...
RUSH: Why? If you love one, you can love two. What if all three people love each other and they want the benefits and all that, who among us should deny those three people their love?
CALLER: I think they can be loved, I just don't think you need to give it a legal status because --
RUSH: Why not?
CALLER: Because two people would make a family, they could raise kids, adopt kids, do whatever they want, I don't think --
RUSH: Wait a minute. But why can't three people do that? You got a lot of love and what could possibly be wrong with that?
CALLER: I think society's determined that two spouses, two people --
RUSH: Well, someday society is gonna evolve away from marriage by two people and could be three or four, and you're gonna oppose that then for some reason. You're gonna deny those people their love.
CALLER: Yeah, I would. I would oppose that.
RUSH: Why? I don't understand. Why would you discriminate that way? What does the number matter when we're talking about love here?"
Ditto, Rush. Why indeed?
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One big, glaring false equivalency that torpedoes Matthew Hine’s argument is that marriage between two people in this country is already legal. All we want is the existing law for marriage to be applied equally whether the couple is male/male, female/female, or male/female as stated in the Fourteenth Amendment. Polygamy is an entirely separate issue. The entire dynamic structure of polygamy relationships is vastly different than a two person relationship. Here, right now in the real world, my fifteen year relationship is deemed legally inferior to some loser who goes to Las Vegas, gets drunk, and gets married a to a showgirl by an Elvis impersonator at a drive through chapel. As soon as those words are spoken “By the power invested in me by the state of -----“ they are qualified for 1138 benefits automatically. If polygamists want to spend the time, money, and effort to change the current laws, that is their right to do so under our Constitution. Personally, maintaining a great relationship with one person is enough work for me, much less adding someone else to the mix.