While the statement was clearly intended to win points against those supporting equal marriage rights, and the debate pretty quickly settled the matter as not being relevant, it got me thinking.
What’s actually wrong with polygamy?
Or polyandry for that matter. Let’s keep things fair. In short, why not allow consenting adults to choose how they define their relationships?
And then add legal protections.
Recently I finished reading “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert E. Heinlein. In order to support the society that the colonists on the Moon find themselves in, they adapt societal norms and allow for a multitude of different marital definitions. The main character in the novel is a member of a Line Marriage (a marriage where alternating genders are added over a period of decades), but clan marriages and other types are mentioned also. Each type of marriage served a purpose, namely, to serve those members of it.
Marriage was originally an agreement to support and protect one another. In some cultures, the strong protect multiple people, in others, the marriage contract allows for the protection of goods and financial interests. While few people these days would argue with “what goes on in the bedroom is none of my business”, what happens when people in non-traditional relationships break up? What protects their financial interests? Who sorts out the property if they have all been contributing? What if a member gets sick and there are visiting rights, funeral issues, investments, custody of children?
Ultimately, for me, it is a matter of not caring. With reality TV shows marrying off couples who have never met before, celebrities getting married for less than 72 hours and the high divorce rate, it could be argued that the sanctity of marriage as a tradition is largely over. If heterosexuals can’t take in the institution seriously, I don’t believe they have the right to complain about it changing in definition. If it changes definition, why can’t we include everyone?
What do you think? Apart from the legal complications, does polygamy actually harm anyone?