Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Marriage with out religious footing, is there anything to stop polygamous weddings?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) September 2nd, 2010

If Prop 8 is overturned by the High Court leaving marriage just a legal formality with no religious footing at all what would stop polygamist from having their day at the alter? On what grounds could anyone oppose polygamous marriages?

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61 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t know for sure what the law is, but I suspect that it allows that each person in the U.S. can only claim one spouse. This would limit the insurance and tax benefits of being married. However, I know that multiple people can live as married ‘groups’ if they wish.

janmaru's avatar

Polygamists, as you know, can hardly focus. The risk of misunderstanging in polygamous families is overwhelming, also sex with cousins. Risks connected to these footings are unknown and they do not represent a scientific sample.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There are already marriages in the US performed by civil authorities without any religious footing at all.

It’s already happening.

Yet polygamous marriages aren’t legal.

Allowing same-sex marriage will not legalize polygamy anymore than allowing interracial marriage did.

JubalHarshaw's avatar

Same-sex marriages and multiple-partner marriages are two different issues. Federal law is silent on polygamy but all states have legislated against it. A separate battle for the future.

blah_blah's avatar

Glares at Utah

I’m agnostic. The only thing religion does in my life is annoy me. I’m sure I can get married if I want and no church needs to be involved.

Or you want to play the slippery-slope game and I won’t bother.

jazmina88's avatar

Marriages should be based on love, not religion.

In polygamy, their many wives are part of their religion.

marinelife's avatar

Legal grounds. Polygamy is illegal.

josie's avatar

If the voters of a state cannot define what marriage is, then nothing stops polygamy from being included in the now very abstract concept “marriage”. If a concept has no definition, then it can be whatever anybody says it is.

marinelife's avatar

@josie What is to say it cannot be defined as a relationship between two people?

Ben_Dover's avatar

What does religion have to do with marriage? And how does this suddenly segue into polygamy? Prop 8’s defeat merely opens the doors for boys to marry boys and girls to marry girls. Other than that, it will all be just the same as before.

And should polygamy become legitimized in America, what of it? Who cares?

JubalHarshaw's avatar

@Ben_Dover Exactly, let marriage become a civil contractual agreement between consenting adults. Things like insurance and pension details can be sorted out contractually. There’s also a cultural assumption in the US that multiple marriage is a man with several wives. What’s wrong with a woman having several husbands, or some mixture thereof? We can define marriage as a contractual agreement between any number of consenting adults for the purpose of pooling assets and providing for the care and protection of minor children resulting from that union. Similar to forming a corporation. If the parties want it blessed by a priest or shaman, fine, but no concern of the government.

jerv's avatar

Marriage is a reminder that the separation of Church and State is an illusion.

Don’t get me wrong; I am happily married. However, we stay together out of love, not because of some paperwork. It’s just that that paperwork gets us things that unwed partners can’t get, like tax breaks and insurance.

josie's avatar

@marinelife Because we now know from the Prop 8 experience that the voters of a state do not get to define what marriage is. So nothing stops any group from redefining it any way they can, assuming that they can find a sympathetic judge. If a word does not stand for a specific concept, then it really does not stand for much at all. That was the philosophical, not political, argument for Prop 8.

zannajune's avatar

I just got married and religion played no part. Zip, zero, nada. We are both agnostic. It really was just a legal formality for us. That’s all marriage is when you boil it down. A legal document. So I don’t really see how anything will change. Or how anything about Prop 8 would connect with legalizing polygamy.

snowberry's avatar

They prosecute polygamy on child abuse, tax and welfare fraud, and rape. They don’t prosecute on religious beliefs, or number of wives.

In my mind, there isn’t a huge difference between men who have multiple wives and produce many kids, and guys who make a lifestyle out of seeing how many women they can get pregnant. The effect on the tax payer is the same.

aprilsimnel's avatar

While I’m personally a monogamous, heterosexual woman, I feel that if the adults involved consent to the situation, why is government or religion, even, in the business of regulating what kind of relationships adults have?

Yes, protect children and animals, but once people are grown, and they aren’t hurting anyone else, they should be able to mate how they wish.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Does it matter if polygamy becomes legal or anything? What’s the problem with it? (not that it’s something i would choose to do in a million years! But, free choice you know…as long as no-one/nothing is harmed, as i always say).

I also didn’t have a religious marriage, this is not a new concept. (it was in a chapel though, so i don’t know if it legally qualifies as a religious marriage or not…whatever).

Also, setting everything else aside, i don’t see why religion should have to play a role in this situation – if polygamy is illegal then it’s law, it has nothing to do with religion. The world doesn’t (or shouldn’t) revolve around religion.

iamthemob's avatar

I would ask why it even matters? This assumes that civil marriage should be related to a sexual relationship. Shouldn’t it be related to building a family unit which provides the maximum amount of emotional and financial support for each member? If two spinster sisters live together for their entire lives, why shouldn’t they be able to support each other in the same manner that a married couple does? Why shouldn’t three spinster sisters?

Polygamy should not be collapsed with polyamory: see here for the difference

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t get why the connection to polygamy is made. Aside from the fact that much of where that happens, it happens because of religion. You can’t possibly think that it’s religion that keeps people from doing what some consider as immoral, like polygamy – that’s hilarious. As for polyamory, I am married (legally) and am seeing other people – this must be because I’m an atheist, eh?

downtide's avatar

Personal jealousy. Most people, even those who are not religious, want one loyal partner for security. Having said that, I don’t tend to experience jealousy and I would be perfectly happy in a polyamorous relationship, if I could find the right people to share it with.

iamthemob's avatar

@downtide

Why would personal jealousy prevent polygamy? It’s a reason why most people wouldn’t do it, or why some wouldn’t be successful.

However, it doesn’t prevent their legal or practical existence.

downtide's avatar

@iamthemob because most of the people making the laws are themselves monogamous, and possibly afraid of what it implies for their own relationships?

iamthemob's avatar

@downtide

That makes sense…how would they argue against it intellectually, though, to prevent it?

downtide's avatar

I don’t think there is a valid intellectual argument, except maybe public opinion having an effect on their decision. Especially where their personal position relies on public vote.

iamthemob's avatar

@downtide

So in accordance with the OPs question, you then would not think there are ANY practical grounds where one could oppose polygamy, given individual freedoms…

downtide's avatar

For me personally, no I can’t think of any practical reasons. For society as a whole, I think it would be strongly objected to. At least, it would here in the UK.

Ron_C's avatar

Yeah and there are some people that say that people will start marrying animals too. This is just another fundamentalist attacks on a minority population. They aren’t allowed to attack black people anymore I am pretty sure that they are against atheists marrying too.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ron_C

I think we need to separate this from the animal argument you gave.

(1) it equates polygamy with bestiality…which is an insulting grouping (not to say that’s what was intended).

(2) the animal argument is ridiculous because there’s no way any of that could happen. Animals can’t consent to a contractual relationship. If they were allowed such a right, unfortunately they would also be protected by the 13th amendment against slavery and were we to eat them…that would be murder.

YARNLADY's avatar

To set the record straight, only about 70% of the people eligible to vote have even bothered to register, and of those only about 80% bothered to vote, with a spread of less than 600,000 votes between YES and NO. So in reality, only a tiny minority of people decided the fate of Proposition 8 for the entire state.

iamthemob's avatar

@YARNLADY

It was a historically massive voter turnout though.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@hawaii_jake @Ben_Dover There are already marriages in the US performed by civil authorities without any religious footing at all. Those were just marriages performed in non-religious ways or places. Every marriage in this nation (USA) had a de facto religious footing because it mirrored 1 Cor 7:2 _ ”But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.”

@JubalHarshaw Same-sex marriages and multiple-partner marriages are two different issues. Elucidate, if it is about people who love each other having the mantle of married how do numbers play in it?

@blah_blah Or you want to play the slippery-slope game and I won’t bother. There is no slippery slope if the main and only issue that is addressed is people who love each other, regardless of the configuration be allowed to don the mantle of married.

@marinelife Legal grounds. Polygamy is illegal. And in many places except lately all marriages were illegal except one man, one woman unions. If Prop 8 fails then that exclusive marital make up is no more. So, what would hold up as keeping polygamous unions illegal?

@snowberry They prosecute polygamy on child abuse, tax and welfare fraud, and rape. They don’t prosecute on religious beliefs, or number of wives. IMO al that is subterfuge to bamboozle people away from the real reason, the Bible says it is wrong unless you were some pagan.

@downtide Most people, even those who are not religious, want one loyal partner for security. And most people world wide wants their other half to be the opposite sex, but that is not the issue, the issue is people who love each other, even if in the minority, should be able to marry if they want to.

JubalHarshaw's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central What I meant was: that the two issues are treated under different statutes in state law. My expanded point was that the state should not be defining what a marriage is; at least not in terms of gender or numbers. Read R.A. Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” for examples of what I mean.

downtide's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Yes, I totally agree with you – that polyamorous marriages involving more than one person should be allowed. I’m just giving my opinion on why I think it will never happen.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@downtide But if and when Prop 8 fails it can’t legally not happen because if the dooming of Prop 8 says that Gays can’t mary each other they can marry straight people because it is not Constitutional they can’t turn around and say but you over there who don’t fit traditional marriage are just s*** out of luck. Prop 8 goes the barn dors on marriage is flung wide open, polyamous marriages and then some will come. No other logic fits. ;-p

downtide's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Don’t forget I’m not from the USA. British law, British public opinion and British voting procedures are all quite different from the way it works in the US. I can only speak for what I see in the UK. I wasn’t referring to gay marriage at all (we already have that here, more or less), I was referring ONLY to why I think polygamous marriages will never happen here.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@downtide So, in the UK if polygamous wanted the same rights as Gays the Gays won’t stand shoulder to shoulder to help them get what they (the Gays) have?

downtide's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I think some would, just as some straight people would. But it would still be a small minority. Heck, many gays in the UK still struggle with accepting bisexual and/or transgendered people.

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t think it’s as important to take the religion out of marriage as to take the sex out of it. (serious)

Although sometimes this just happens naturally. (joke serious)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@downtide Heck, many gays in the UK still struggle with accepting bisexual and/or transgendered people. Fry me in bacon grese. Gays some of them don’t want to support bisexual people??!? Why, because they live having sex with the enemy? That makes about as much sense as a mechanics union saying they don’t care for golf cart or fork lift mechanics because motorcycles are not real vehicles.

Ron_C's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central well said, I think you covered all the topics point by point.

snowberry's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central In the US (which is where I live), even though there are laws against polygamy, I have not recently (in the last 10 years or so) heard of a polygamist being prosecuted for having more than one wife. That’s because they only make one marriage application with the state, and the rest of the marriages are religious ceremonies only. As far as I know, the government does not care what the Bible says about it. If it did, the separation of church and state would go nuts.

Anyway, Prosecutors only go after stuff they think they can win, which is why they go after welfare fraud, rape, child abuse, etc.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@snowberry That’s because they only make one marriage application with the state, and the rest of the marriages are religious ceremonies only. As far as I know, the government does not care what the Bible says about it. If it did, the separation of church and state would go nuts. The operative word here is one legal marriage license, the rest has no teeth when it comes to tax breaks, medical decision making, health ins from the job etc. Polygamous do not even have civil unions or plural unions, they have less than what the Gays have. Gay people could have ceremonious unions too if they wanted but that seems not to be good enough, they want the full mantle of marriage, I would think since there would be no religious reason to deny them, they would want the same.

Many of our laws (here in the US) had been heavily influenced by Judea Christian tenants. They say there is a separation of church and state but the wiggly line is hair thin in many places. They still use a Bible to swear in the President and witnesses in court, why do that if to completely cleave religion from government?

snowberry's avatar

Personally, I think the original idea of “separation of church and state” has been skewed. That’s why back when the country was first being started, folks had NO problem with praying over a government meeting, In God We Trust, etc. Anyway, so many generations have passed, and history is passing into fable. Little by little, the original meaning of “One nation under God” has be has been diluted until It’s almost lost. Perhaps the concept of God and moral standards offend folks who are not into that. Now folks are trying to make it compatible with our current free-love, narcissistic, materialistic culture. Just my opinion.

iamthemob's avatar

@snowberry

But religious morality is untenable in a democratic society where it creates inequality. Considering that there needn’t be any sexual component in order to form a strong, committed family unit by civil contract in the eyes of the government (indeed, in a civil contract approved by the government, is it even legal to SAY that sex is a component…or should it be?), religious morality claiming that their traditional notions should be the standard for all regardless is irrelevant. The church doesn’t have to recognize anything it doesn’t want to.

Although the country was founded by Christians, and Christianity factored significantly into it’s formation, we should take only the general principles of good will, support for fellow man, and respect for life as the lessons from that and not incorporate religious definitions into legal practice. That’s theocracy, not democracy.

I think you realize how inappropriate that all is and that you’re speaking ironically, considering you quote the “under God” portion of the pledge of allegiance – which of course, as you know, was drafted in the late 1800s as a salute to the nation’s flag, and the “under God” part was not added until 1954. If not…well, when religion is used to promote conformity, that’s how we get the crusades.

snowberry's avatar

In the USA, religious morality is not untenable for many religious people, and people of every religion are allowed to live and worship here. I doubt you’ll succeed in forcing the strongly religious to abandon their beliefs and simply adhere to your “general principles of good will, support for fellow man, and respect for life as the lessons from that and not incorporate religious definitions into legal practice” etc. And in fact, there are many of us who will fight to keep those rights. Please don’t try to take them away.

And just like many other concepts, equality has come to mean a different thing than it did when this nation was started. The concept of equal rights (women’s, spousal, children’s, educational, black, white, religious, criminal, sexual, you name it) has exploded. So no wonder we’re having issues. What you want to do is change the rules as it were. OK, but when you do that, you’re going to find hypocrisy, inequality, brutality, crime, and lots of nasty stuff.

iamthemob's avatar

@snowberry

It’s untenable when it creates inequality in a democratic society. That’s all. The fact that people are allowed to live and worship here means that we (at least on principle) accept their equality, and don’t force anyone to believe one way or another unless the practice of their faith results in violation of a person’s civil rights, right to life, etc. (religious institutions are afforded more freedom than others, in fact, in that they are provided tax exemptions in certain cases and along with this are allowed to practice openly discriminatory hiring practices, as demonstrated in first amendment jurisprudence). So I wouldn’t dream of asking them to abandon beliefs. I wouldn’t take anything away.

But I surely do think we should change the rules of the game, as you say. If they didn’t change, indeed, equality would mean something other than it does now. I could own a slave. I could beat my wife. I could lynch a black man. I could intern a Japanese family. I could fire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy. I could pay a woman less. I could refuse a woman the right to vote. And sure, no wonder we’re having issues. But there is absolutely no right being taken away from anyone to believe whatever they want by claiming that a civil contract providing the bundle of rights afforded formerly to heterosexual couples who wanted a church ceremony to groups other than those couples. Anyone who believes that is wrong is totally entitled. However, if you are going to say that this deprives any one of them of any rights that they had before, I would like to hear how.

Personally, I’m glad the concept of equality has exploded. Although it gets messy, we’re the much better for it.

snowberry's avatar

Why would you want to make someone in a religious organization with a distinct belief system go against all that and hire someone in direct violation of their beliefs? That organization would become like those government run churches in China, where everything is politically correct, and dead. If that happened here, most people would abandon the organization, and assemble secretly, the same way they have in China, and all over the world. I know that if it happened to my church, I’d quit, and start meeting secretly too.

Not too long ago Obama tried to force all hospitals to offer abortions. I recall the Catholics announced that if he did, they’d shut down their hospitals rather than cooperate. Good for them! That’s not equality! That’s oppression.

In the process of trying to include everything and everyone, the concept of equality has been diluted down to the place where sometimes it’s hardly recognizable, let alone livable. As a result, you have some situations that are so absurd, they’re comical, whereas others are tragic beyond words.

I’m not saying that the old version was better, but this is crazy.

iamthemob's avatar

@snowberry

But you haven’t stated how allowing civil marriage as something separate and apart from religious marriage would interfere with any of your rights.

PS – personally, I didn’t say anything about wanting them to be forced to hire someone. I’m just using the examples to show how religious organizations have, in many ways, more privileges than other employment organizations. We already afford them, in many ways, “special rights” in order to prevent it from seeming like the government was attempting to limit their religious freedom.

Again, I would ask why saying “You get your marriages, but that’s before god. That doesn’t mean the state marriage has to obey your laws – the state will decide its own contract rights” does anything to religious organizations? Keep doing what you’re doing, I say.

snowberry's avatar

I was not aware that religious marriage and civil marriage are the same thing in this country. As stated above by another poster, the civil marriage is the one that gets the rights. Additional marriages are generally not recognized by health insurance, inheritance laws, etc.Since I have no intention of being a polygamous wife, I see no reason how this practice could interfere with my rights. Oh, and by the way, I am descended from polygamists!

iamthemob's avatar

@snowberry

Ahh! I see.

Okay – Often, we use “marriage” as a term because it is the best shorthand to communicate the rights desired.

However, I totally believe that religion should keep marriage to itself. I think the only government union should be considered a “civil union” and marriage preformed by the state be a thing of the past. The full mantle of marriage is far too associated with oppression for me to want to participate in it….

Ron_C's avatar

@iamthemob somewhere in all ceremonies is the phrase “by the power invested in me by the ______name your state____…”

All legal marriages in the U.S. are sanctioned by the state, Religious sanctions are optional.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ron_C

Okay. I don’t know what you’re responding to there though….

…that doesn’t mean, clearly, that state sanctions in this case are completely separated from religious sanctions. If they were, we wouldn’t be bringing up all the “sanctity” issues…

I am unclear what point you’re addressing.

Ron_C's avatar

@iamthemob I was just pointing out that religious marriages have, in the U.S., been an ancillary part of a civil union. I guess that I am tired of the whole argument of people, not you, insisting that religion is a necessary part of a marriage in the U.S.

I guess I picked you because I you are the most familiar to me. Frankly, after reading the thread, I forgot who said exactly what. Let’s just say that I agree with you the most for this particular question. Besides, you cannot have a strictly religious marriage in this country because without a civil license, you are not married, no matter what religion or even which sex. I see nothing wrong with a marriage between any two people.

I do, however, think we should keep the number at two. More than that; it starts to look like a corporation instead of family. I do believe that families are the building blocks of society.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ron_C

I understand concerns about multiple parties to a marriage. I don’t know if I can think of a completely workable solution myself. However, I would like to start at the idea of requiring that anyone in a civil union should be required to share the same primary address. To start, of course.

But yeah – I have my own concerns about potential abuse associated with multiple people in this contract.

Ron_C's avatar

@iamthemob your primary address is a good point but if that was a fact, my wife and I would not have been legally married for our first two years. She was still in nursing school, I was in engineering school, then I went to Vietnam for more than a year. I think that an official license should suffice. It is already illegal to be married to more than one person and people that cheat on the contract are liable for divorce. I would be against making extra laws.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ron_C

It sounds like you could easily show that the primary address requirement would not be applicable. My concern is that there are family units (multiple siblings living together, let’s say) where stability would only be served by allowing multiple parties to the contract. Just saying no, therefore, is not considering all the issues and possible solutions.

Joybird's avatar

If you want to end polygamy than you need to alter the legal state of marriage. Marriage should be relegated to a religious ritual only and it should be replaced with civil property agreements which could be filed by any two people only. This would eliminate the financial arrangement of polygamy as it now stands. It’s what homosexuals should have fought for instead of right to marry. As far as the religious aspect of pairbonding…a religious ritual has no legal standing and so you could stand up in a church with as many people as you like…it still wouldn’t give you legal property rights with any of them.
Are you willing to do this though? Most people can get around the progress this would make for. They will stick to the paradigm for no other reason than that it is comfortable.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Joybird Marriage should be relegated to a religious ritual only and it should be replaced with civil property agreements which could be filed by any two people only. It’s what homosexuals should have fought for instead of right to marry. But it the moniker ”married” that Gay people seek even though domestic partnership would have been just the same. Marriage has long been the gold standard of relationships and the one sanctioned by religion so it is a de facto thumbs up from God. It can be seen as being acquitted as oppose to being found innocent. Acquitted in many minds say guilty but state could not prove it”.

If marriage is a religious institution for hetero couples, why would Gay people or those who care not for religion want their union called that so bad? And in generals why would anyone care that multiple people have a union the same as a marriage but called something else. It seems the name carries a lot of weight to how serious people see the union.

Joybird's avatar

@ Hypocrisy Central. That marriage has been the “gold standard” is a paradigm ie…something we continue to do without question because it’s always been done that way and is presumed to be the right or correct way when there may indeed be other perfectly logical ways of looking at the problems created within societies. What I am saying is that ALL marriages should be grandfathered into NOT civil unions but instead named as just what they are…property states. And marriage like baptism and communion, should be relegated to a ritual only. Just because religion has sanctioned something doesn’t make it the only way something could be done. Religions across history have sanctioned alot of baloney, alot of divisiveness, and alot of self serving principles. This claim that it’s “de facto thumbs up from God” makes me immediately ask, “Whose god”, certainly not mine. Property states should not be relegated to only hetero sexuals. And the state should get the church out of it’s policy making entirely. Abandoning marriage as the state sanctioned property state is but one way to do that. Perhaps the only way to do that. And perhaps it gets right down to the nitty gritty of what we really stand for in the US. Because if it’s freedom and equality…than you can’t have it both ways. If we stand for that then we need to abandon the paradigms that say other than this..religion be damned.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Joybird That marriage has been the “gold standard” is a paradigm ie…something we continue to do without question because it’s always been done that way and is presumed to be the right or correct way when there may indeed be other perfectly logical ways of looking at the problems created within societies. There could be an alternative to marriage, for the most part there is, domestic partnership. For those who want an official union apart from the church originated marriage that would do. Problem is people choose not to see it as “real” as marriage or having the same umph.

This claim that it’s “de facto thumbs up from God” makes me immediately ask, “Whose god”, certainly not mine. Whoever is the lead god of that religion, that is who makes it “right”, or not to those following it.

Abandoning marriage as the state sanctioned property state is but one way to do that. Perhaps the only way to do that. To those in which it is a significant part of their faith I doubt that would happen any time soon. But those who do not follow a faith nothing precludes them from establishing such.

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