my Politico piece on polygamy

I’m in Politico today, making the argument for legally recognized group marriage. Check it out.


Did you write this piece to troll conservatives?

No, I wrote it because I believe in a natural moral right to group marriage.

Did you write this piece because you oppose  same sex marriage?

No, I support same sex marriage wholeheartedly. I wrote it because I believe in a natural moral right to group marriage.

Did you write this piece to demonstrate the slippery slope of social liberalism?

No, and I wrote explicitly about the slippery slope in the piece, which you should read if you’re commenting on it. I wrote the piece because I believe in a natural moral right to group marriage.

Why did you publish it today? Too soon!

If you believe that we have a natural moral right to group marriage, as I do, telling people to slow down is offensive.

But why publish it on the day gay marriage becomes law?

Because I do think, despite what so many progressives have halfheartedly said, that marriage equality meaningfully influences the legal and moral case for polygamy, and that this is a good thing. I waited until that day because, with marriage equality now the law of the land, with broad popular support, the political  risk of association with polygamy has died, and so the time has come to make the case for polygamy, a natural outgrowth of social liberalism and one of several moral imperatives for us going forward. I wrote the piece because I believe in a natural moral right to group marriage, and for the reasons I said in the piece. You can agree, or disagree, but you cannot dictate my reasons or my views.

Update II: 

Gay people don’t choose to be gay, but people choose to enter into polyamorous relationships, so we have a duty to provide marriage rights to the former but not the latter.

I reject the “born this way” argument for gay marriage, so this logic doesn’t move me. That argument, too, seems ad hoc and motivated by political concession more than by principle. That argument is both inherently insulting and logically troubling. Insulting because another way to put it would be to say “they can’t help it, so give them marriage.” That’s not an argument for the equal value of gay relationships. On the contrary, it’s a demeaning argument of necessity. Logically troubling, because its logic insists that only “really gay” people should have the right to gay marriages. Suppose there was some sort of blood test for homosexuality: if you turned up straight on such a test, does that mean you would have no right to marry someone from your same sex? That’s a necessary logical conclusion of this argument, and an absurdity. People should have the right to marry whomever they want because there is no rational reason society should privilege heterosexual relationships in the first place. Similarly, my argument is precisely that polyamorous relationships are equal in value and dignity to couple relationships. Chosen or inherent, the right to whatever romantic and sexual relationships you want to have should be respected.

Your argument isn’t really radical and doesn’t destabilize capitalism.

True. Same with same sex marriage. And indeed, like many I am not a huge fan of conventional marriage and government sanction of same in general. I do agree that there are a great many problems with it. But the fact of the matter is, marriage exists, and marriage rights are now extended to different sex and same sex couples alike in this country, as they should be. And as long as government is providing formal recognition of relationships that confers practical and legal benefits, I believe the right thing to do is to extend those benefits equally to all consenting relationships regardless of whether there’s only two people involved. That’s not me giving marriage an unskeptical blessing, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I think marriage will tear down the state or capitalism, both of which are quite keen on marriage. It just means that, as long as this edifice exists, we should spread its benefits equally. In much the same way that I simultaneously recognize that capitalism and the business world are exploitative and demeaning, and think that women have to have equal opportunity to advance within them. That’s the weird condition of egalitarianism in today’s world.

Is this really the top priority for the left when we still have [X social problem] to tackle? 

I didn’t say, and didn’t mean to imply, that polygamy is the top priority. Only that it should be a priority, and that it is a natural and moral right for us to pursue. We can, and have to, do different things simultaneously as a left-wing movement. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Update: Here’s me talking about the issue with Alan Colmes on his radio show: