Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Multiple women and one man... Multiple men and one woman... Okay the first has worked but the latter normally gets the wife's nose cut off or worse.

The practice of polygamy has generally been for the wealthier set. So the well off men got multiple wives without enough left for the younger guys-- short of looking temptingly at each other. Possibly why the whole thing got criminalized. Or was it the wives who didn't like having new young women around with whom to compete?

But then if you look at serial monogamy today, you see the guy getting new young thing and discarding old thing with a pile of cash-- if they were well off. Men have had mistresses, concubines, paid prostitutes and found assorted methods for sexually having multiple partners. Women less frequently have done the same thing... Okay in the open hardly ever even today. Most of it is legal-- except for polygamy.

A new show debuted on HBO this week to explore the topic of polygamy-- a husband with three wives, the assorted kids that go along with that, next door houses and adjoining backyards. I have to admit I didn't watch the show, as I watch very little regular television but I did read the blurbs on it because I have never understood why polygamy is not legal. Lately, it's been used as one of the scare tactics to ward people off from legalizing gay marriage. Well why not legalize both? If culturally people want to treat those who are polygamous as lepers, that's their right but why should the courts have a voice in it? Polygamy, unlike bigamy, is about consenting adults who have decided they want to or will accept that lifestyle. Studies say 30,000 of them in Utah alone.

This question on polygamy arises now and then. A few years ago a man was found guilty of bigamy who was practicing polygamy with serial marriages and divorces. He was not exactly a poster boy for the practice given he was marrying underage girls, collecting welfare payments from supposedly ex-spouses to support his lifestyle. He probably could have kept it going for years, as the females in the partnership were not upset with it, except for his using the welfare system and then he bragged about it in public, tried to encourage it to be made legal and hence got the attention of the powers that be. The young women appeared on multiple television shows to try and get him off but to no avail. He's still doing time last I read.

There have been, still are, some cults that practice polygamy, forcing it on underage girls, but the same type of cult does this often whether they marry the girls or not. That is a question not of consenting relationships but cults.

From what I have read of it, most polygamous couples keep a low profile and are let be. But why should they have to hide it? Why is polygamy illegal? Any ideas? I can see why it might not be practical. Most men I know wouldn't want multiple wives as they feel one is demanding enough or is that too much...

I have thought about this on a personal level. Would I enter into a polygamous marriage if it was legal? I think it'd depend on the man, how much I loved him, how well I liked the proposed new partner (in most polygamous relationships the woman has a voice in taking a new wife) or how well his existing partner liked me. In our country, we mostly practice serial monogamy. Is that better than polygamy?

I planned to write on this due to the TV show coming out and my own feeling government should stay out of the personal business of consenting adults, but nearly got derailed when I watched Walk the Line Sunday night about Johnny Cash and June Carter's love affair. Soul mate connection, lots of sighs, a few tears and a reminder why we desire the idea of just two people in a perfect, romantic relationship. Yes, it's the ideal, but is it the government's business to insure it?

(the picture above is our bull with a few of his ladies)


Mary Lou said...

Having BEEN in a bigamist marriage, I do have an opinion! I do not believe in Polygamy or Bigamy because eventually someone in the relationship gets the mucky end of the stick. In my case it was ME! I was wife number 0ne, home to have our baby while husband was on a cruise for the US Navy. He met and married another, and then wanted a divorce from me. (kinda late huh?)

I ended up with a 6 week old baby in the San Fransisco INTL Airport with no money, no husband, and no where to go. SCARED to death!

as for polygamy, every single one of the cases I have heard about, usually involve underage girls! I think it is just a front for sexual deviants to "legalize" their desire for young virgins.

THe kids suffer, the wives suffer (they are brainwashed to think it is ok) and the church suffers too. from bad publicity.

NOW as far as gay marriage, I have no problem with that at all. Nor do I have a problem with live in partners, as long as there is a legal contract that will allow them the same rights under the law that married couples have. IE health care, survivors rights, next of kin etc.

IF you want to delcare your commitment to someone, of ANY sex, then legalize it. Give your partner or you some legal rights.

Marriage should be for the CHURCHES to decide, commitments or contracts should be for the state.
The Government should stay out of our bedrooms totally!! and they should stay away from our churches too.

I ramble. Im sorry.

Rain said...

hi Mary lou, good for you on having a strong opinion, and it wasn't rambling to express your viewpoint. I always appreciate hearing both sides of anything I write here.

Bigamy is illegal and since it's based on fraud and lies, it's good that it is. As for polygamy,I think most of us would agree marriage to underage children is wrong whether it's multiple or not. Being in cults is bad but some do raise their children in them and the children suffer-- thinking of David Koresh here.

I am sorry to hear of what you had to have gone through to have been deceived like that. Hard to imagine how difficult that must have been. So frustrating when some take advantage of the love and trust of others :(

Parapluie said...

I know the grandchildren of Mormon polygamists. Their father alone was a caregiver not just for his mother but for the entire house full of five widows. He attempted to take care of all the widows his own wife and his own family of three children. He was very bitter. The children are still excessively competitive with one another. In my opinion they missed out on vital nurturing from their father and their personality is permanently damaged. So like this once Polygamous Mormon family, I agree that Polygamy in our modern world is wrong. It would eventually create a burden on our health services and welfare.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I hadn't really thought about this before and I'm not ready, I guess, to have a strong opinion. Mary Lou--you certainly stated from personal experience the cons of legalizing it. I never read about this on your blog, and thanks for sharing it.

I don't have HBO, but would have watched the show if I had, merely to see what I thought of it so I could speak to it. I had a four year association with people who lived "the open life," and though it definitely did not work for me (too insecure), it did seem to work for the majority of the men and women.

Where most matters of sexuality lie, there is human nature (mother nature tricked males into needing multiple partners to propogate the race) and then there is morality dictated by religions, and by law.

Polygamy probably isn't really about sex at all. In fact, the fact that the human race is obsessed with sex (sometimes using it when all we really wanted was love) leads me to believe that what appears to be is really something else.

Talk about rambling. I'll form an opinion later.

Anonymous said...

There may be legitimate couples who practice polygamy, but the jury is out on the rest... Look at Colorado City, AZ fairly recently exposed...

More here:

Rain said...

Interesting thoughts from everyone. A lot of the worst abuses of humans occur in isolated cults which use various excuses to keep their people apart from the rest of the world. I don't know the solution to the problem of such cults in a country that believes in religious freedom. One possible answer is educating people spiritually; so they are not so vulnerable to those who would exploit others in cruel and sometimes fatal ways.

Laura said...

Other side of the coin: there are people who are polyamorous and who would be very pleased with legal polygamy. This is not the same thing as legalizing bigamy (there is deception in that - like comparing polyamory to cheating - it is not accurate) or child-brides or abuse of any sort.

Of COURSE since polygamy is illegal, who is going to say, "Gee, we have a happy healthy polygamous marriage?" Of course they are not. And no one is going to make news of it either given the sentiments of the country. But it should be legal, I think. There is the potential there for a marriage to be a community, nurturing, to be a family of choice that is larger than just two people and their children, and I think that's lovely. (It's not for everyone, either: such marriages should require EVERYONE to sign the certificate, to ensure they are aware and want it.)

Yes, the examples we see are ugly. That's because, to have such a marriage now, you must be willing to defy the law, to do things that are wrong - and the people who might make good examples aren't going to be. But I will be you they are out there, living as 'housemates' (with perhaps a couple married, but no more) or as neighbors, or.... Polyamory is out there. It just doesn't involve multi-way marriages, because they're illegal.

Which leaves some members of the family as having no effective rights, which seems very wrong to me.

Idler said...

Here's my day-late (though hopefully not a dollar short) contribution to the debate. Being busy with work at the moment, I thought I'd share something I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the subject. It touches on the idea of state involvement in questions of marriage as well as whether polygamy is a form of marriage the state ought to support:

Instapundit Yawns at Polygamy

Over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds yawns over an OpinionJournal article called “Harem, Scare’em: Worrying About Polygamy.” Reynolds half-heartedly entertains an argument or two then opines condescendingly:

I'm occasionally amused by the implication that there's something unnatural about polygamy, though: It's quite possibly the most common form of marriage in human society, and certainly far too common to dismiss as some sort of perversion.

If mere prevalence is one’s standard, then one could easily be blasé about ignorance, poverty and any number of other disappointing tendencies in humanity. The article actually ties polygamy to poverty (and other social problems), a relationship that Reynolds reprises in his post.

Reynolds is unmoved partly because he sees “most of the polygamy-talk now [as] just a symptom of the gay-marriage debate, rather than a genuine freestanding concern.” That’s a little like saying most of the pacifist-talk now is just a symptom of the Iraq war debate rather than a free-standing concern. If the nature of the social institution of marriage is being called into question, now might be a good time to talk about it. Stanley Kurtz of National Review has extensively documented the relationship of the current debate to polygamy, and OpinionJournal refers to some significant popular support for polygamy here and abroad. For example, HBO is about to debut a series called “Big Love,” which is written in a manner calculated to make polygamy more acceptable.

Reynolds reacts to all this with his usual 1970s-style mellow attitude to all forms of self-indulgence, supported by libertarian rhetoric. Counsels Reynolds:

The solution to all of this, of course, is to separate marriage and state. There's no reason why the government should be involved in this sort of thing… there's no reason why people's private living arrangements should be part of public debate. That's my take, anyway.

I wonder whether the little disclaimer at the end was added out of a sense that he was shooting from the hip on a profound issue of law, social theory and even anthropology. Perhaps Reynolds felt an inkling that his easy-going libertarianism was unequal to the task. Perhaps I suffer a layman’s naïveté, but considering Reynolds is a law professor, I find his argument suprisingly shallow.

Reynolds would seek to overthrow a mass of settled law by taking the government out of “private living arrangements.” Is he not thinking about matters of the responsibility of partents (including questions about child custody, neglect and abuse), let alone financial questions associated with divorce?

The central point here is whether the state has an interest in regulating marriage. Reynolds seems to simply assume without reflection that the state has no such interest—against centuries of common law tradition, to say nothing of the treatment of marriage outside the Anglo-American legal sphere.

But if polygamy is often accompanied by unfortunate social problems—an idea that Reynolds seems willing to entertain—if it happens that traditional marriage is unequalled as an institution favorable for the rearing of children, then the state most certainly has an interest in regulating it.

It’s worth considering Reynolds’ liberal attitude in relation to the sobering arguments made by Steyn in “It’s the Demography, Stupid.” Surely a serious society would see the importance of supporting an institution whose primary purpose is the perpetuation of its population and the humane upbringing of its newest members. Perhaps Steyn’s essay shows the error that Reynolds’ libertarianism is prone to. Collectivists err in failing to appreciate that strong societies depend on strong individuals; libertarians err in underestimating inviduals’ dependence on society. No man is an island.

Rain said...

interesting post on the topic, Idler. I don't read Reynolds; so had not seen that line of reasoning. I don't know about the government as the being the best judge for what is good for us. I would question-- and have-- whether monogamy as is practiced today-- mostly serially-- is natural to mankind period. Might be a topic for another day :)

Idler said...


I'm not sure how a legal practice of ancient standing constitutes "the government as the being the best judge for what is good for us." Marriage is of course more than just a legal convention, but as a legal convention it is like thousands of aspects of civil and criminal law that limit an individual’s options. Of course in a democracy citizens have a say in the law, and in a Common Law tradition, such as the United States has, even past generations have a say, in effect.

That said, the state also has a legitimate interest to advance in the law, which I touched on in the little essay I posted earlier

Marriage has certainly struck many commentators over the ages as unnatural in various respects, but that criticism is always problematic. Human beings are artificers, and all conventions, even language, are in some measure artificial.

It’s natural to be fat and dumb (though probably not happy...), but it’s also natural to wish one were lean and smart. It feels a little less natural for most of us to do the work to get there, but I think we’re more human than we strive than when we veg. (Now there’s a topic for another day!) Similarly, serial monogamy, to say nothing of polyamory, is in a sense more natural than traditional marriage because it’s easier, being more in tune with our basic appetites unrestrained. Nevertheless, traditional marriage appeals to other, higher, drives, as well as being more favorable to the care and education of children.

The custom has retained its popularity for a very long time in many places; I wonder why people don’t question more deeply into why that’s the case. And since the traditional married state is something more difficult to achieve than not to achieve, it will be a lot easier to tear down than to build up again once we realize our mistake.

Someone once said that history could be looked at as a tale of antagonism between those building up civilization and those tearing it down—exemplified by events like the Viking depradations against towns and monasteries on the British Isles or the sack of Rome. Seems to me the destruction of traditional marriage would fall into the category of the tearing down, not the building up. Marriage may be repressive in certain ways, but it has its compensations not only for the parties to the unions, but especially to the issue of the unions, and also for society as a whole. And anyway, as Freud wisely said, civilization is build on repression.

Rain said...

in reality, marriage being one man, one woman for ever and ever is more Christian than any other religion. Polygamy has been widely practiced including in the Old Testament. Tribes often have proven to be good ways to raise children.

I am not a fan of government dictating anything more than is required and certainly don't want it decreeing to me I cannot divorce, must divorce or any of assorted other things. I do not believe it's government's role to attempt to create a utopian society which it has no way to even know what that'd be given as far as I know there hasn't been one in anything other than fiction. Be that as it may, most people agree with you that polygamy is bad and hence the majority is likely to prevail.

I have thought quite a bit about what the spiritual purpose of marriage as in the until death do you part end might be and will probably end up writing about it at some point in the future. I know there is a religious one but the question that I have considered and discussed with friends is whether there is a real spiritual purpose. A lot of what people think they are doing for spiritual reasons end up not being so. You can do a lot of what most would say was evil and claim it's all in god's name.

Idler said...

The spiritual benefits of marriage may be consistent with advocacy of the institution for social purposes, but they are tertiary at best to the concerns of society and secondary to the needs of children. That's not to say that it's a trivial matter, of course.

I'm not sure what the significance might be of traditional marriage being "more Christian" than, say, Muslim or animist. What difference does it make? Traditional marriage is surely it's far more common across the world than polygamy, and not exclusively for economic reasons.

As far as tribal social organization is concerned, I'll just say that contemplation of its romantic attractions might blind one to the fact that it is radically inconsistent with any libertarian notions of the limits on the say others have on one's behavior, to say nothing of egalitarian concerns. Individual liberty has flourished where families rather than tribes were seen as the fundamental unit. It's probably not a coincidence that such notions emerged in countries where Christianity prevailed, though Roman custom and law probably also played a part.

Polygamy (as opposed to the rather rare practice of polyandry) certainly tends to foster the inequality of the sexes in favor of males. Feminism is also a product of countries where Christianity prevailed.

Whatever might be said about the merits of other approaches to child rearing, the increasing instability of marriage is harmful to children. This would be true if polygamy had been normal in the United States, but in a traditional form where parents (and particularly fathers) took their responsibilities seriously. The current advocacy for polygamy and/or polyamory is of a different type.

Let's face it, the movement has been away from individual responsibility in order to favor individual preference—that is, doing what one feels like and others be damned. "How dare anyone tell me what to do!" People making this complaint don't seem to entertain the voluntary assumption of duties as an aspect of personal dignity. In the end, it breaks down to people feeling more comfortable about avoiding responsibility. And when that happens, the most dependent naturally suffer.

Charles Murray wrote a fascinating and chilling essay on the increasing incidence of violent crime in Britain (which has grown to levels exceeding those of the United States) and its relation to skyrocketing illegitimacy. At the end of the piece he said:

Primitive cultures have implemented the principle of legitimacy instinctively. All great civilizations have self-consciously come to understand why it arose. The great philosophers of Asia and the West alike have argued, in different ways, that the family is not just one of many social institutions, a nice thing to have if it is convenient, but the indispensable building block of society.

England at the dawn of the new millennium, along with the United States and most European countries, is saying that this ancient and universal social law may be dispensed with. That is what an illegitimacy ratio of 38 percent means. It is not just an abstract statistic but a reflection of something that no human society has tried to do until now.

What leads us to believe that this leap in the dark is an acceptable risk? What is the source of our breathtaking hubris? Certainly not a considered evaluation of the facts. The facts, whether in the form of statistics or in the daily experiences of social workers, police, and teachers, correspond directly with age-old beliefs about what will happen if society discards the principle of legitimacy.

Our hubris derives partly from obliviousness. I cannot think of any previous era when history itself--history as a source of lessons about our own best course of action--has been treated with such contempt. Our hubris derives partly from intellectual cowardice. The feminist revolution, for all its good effects, has also shut down certain kinds of public positions. To say that marriage is the foundation of civilization is to know that you will be seen as a Neanderthal who wants women kept barefoot and pregnant; consequently, few people who want to be considered intellectually respectable will say it. Our hubris derives partly from self-indulgence. Sex without commitment can be lots of fun, especially at the ages when families traditionally have gotten started; and, there's no doubt about it, marriage gets in the way of sex without commitment. We have conveniently concluded that what we enjoy is what we should do.

Whatever its complex combination of sources, it is indeed hubris, and we are indeed taking a leap in the dark. We are acting as if all those millennia of human experience, across civilizations and races and cultures, are irrelevant; that our particular generation just happens to have been blessed with the insight to see that everybody else has been wrong; that our generation alone has perceived the truth. Do we really believe that?

Parapluie said...

The topic of polygamy has many facets of current interest. Please do continue to write on the subject. One other facet is not yet put into words but suggested by the picture of your contented bull and harem at the very beginning of the article. Is the cattle and dairy breeding ethical in their use of polygamy breeding numerous heffers? It is natural for some animals to have multiple partners, however, our agricultural practices carry this to extreems. It is not in the interest of sustaining life on earth to dump huge quantities of cow manure from dairy feed lots into our streams. Manure with antibiotics and who knows what in the feed pellets. This is not a problem on a farm where animals are pets like yours but is a problem on the industrial farms right here in Oregon. I know of Truax Creek, Oregon where periodically the creek is brown and frothy from the waste products of the dairy farm. Does the farmer have the right to breed so many milk animals? Not only is the quality of life for these animals dismal but also the life of wild breeding fish is impacted and potentially the health of all of us. Also Salmon and Steehlhead swim into Truax Creek when the big rivers approach flood stage. These side journeys may be a factor in their memory for their return from the ocean to their spawning grounds. So if they do make it through the stream healthy, they may not be able to recognize the stream as a landmark because it was disguised by cow manure.

Rain said...

I am trying to decide how far you'd take this. If you follow these threads you are in favor of, would you favor government regulating everything that would keep us all safe? Not just who we can marry but what we eat? What exercise we get because we won't be 'reponsible'? Monitor what entertainment we watch as we won't choose wisely (ratings prove that)? Would you be in the group accepting such regulation by someone else or want to be the one determining it?

You then must I would guess favor bigger and more government than we currently have to monitor it all to be sure it's being done right? As Bush said jokingly early on, he favored a dictatorship, just if he could be the dictator. Bet neither of you would like it if that dictator of moral living turns out to be Hillary after next election. That's the problem with giving away personal power; you don't always get it back and right now I don't trust who is in power with it-- next time you might not.

Rain said...

and parapluie, *s* you just wrote a whole new topic to pursue someday on agriculture (we by the way fence ours off from the creek). Our cattle, however, are not pets. We eat and sell them to eat-- natural grass fed beef for anyone looking for such! As for whether the cows are content in bigamous relationships? Yes, but they probably don't like being killed to be eaten. lol

Idler said...

Generally I'm for limiting government, but law and regulation have their place. Simply observing that leaving intact and institution that has been in place for milennia makes sense from a legal and social point of view isn't remotely a call for increased government intrusion. If I came out in favor of simply retaining various obligations associated with contract law, would you take that as a call for big government?

As I said, all sorts of civil interaction are regulated by law, not to mention the criminal limitations on individuals' conduct. One doesn't have to be a fan of big government merely to see the utility of these things.

I have to ask: Doesn't it concern you even a little that overthrowing such a central custom, and one that encourages greater virtue of citizens, might have serious consequences? The Murray essay is an eye-opener in this respect. It made a big impact on my when I first read it, so I like to share it with others.

By the way, the beef sounds fantastic. I lived in Argentina for a year and came to appreciate grass fed beef. As a matter of fact, my wife and I are going in on a little syndicate to buy a side of beef from a rancher with the approved methods. I'm not managing the transaction, but it could be with you for all I know!

Rain said...

I don't see that deciding sexual partners can be of the same sex and if they so desire have a legal union would do anything to marriages other than their own.

I heard all the fear talk when Oregon voted on this and am still amazed that our state which normally has been live and let live moved to block normalizing marriage between gays. I would call all of it civil unions on the government side and let churches sort out who they want to say are married in god's eyes. I have never believed that my neighbor divorcing or their marriage good or bad means anything to what mine is like.

For those who expect god to smite them if they allow such, I do understand their motivation even though I don't agree with them. The latest came from Israel where a rabbi has said they are getting bird flu deaths as punishment from god since they are considering legalizing gay marriage. Haven't even done it yet and already god is smiting some innocent person for what the country 'might' do. I tell you some people's view of god would scare me IF I thought that was what god was like-- which I do not. Same thing came along with Katrina-- the god did it crowd came out. For those people, fear of allowing gays to marry probably makes sense; but if you use logic, I don't see it relates at all.

Marriages in this country are dissolving in divorce more often because people can. Some conservatives have proposed changing that. Maybe there is some of the 'somewhere over the rainbow' thinking in divorce but it's not liberals doing it, not gays-- in my opinion. It's just couples who are in unhappy relationships and realize there are other options for them.

Because something has always been accepted-- such as slavery was at one time and still is in some locations-- does not make it right or beneficial. I never understood why gay marriage scared anybody. It should recognize that all sexual partners in the end desire the same thing-- solid relationships. Would those opposed to gay marriage want them out there with somebody different every night? hide their relationships? Not live normal lives like a heterosexual is permitted to do-- if they want.

It's not like people choose to be gay. Which was the argument used by Andrew Sullivan against Krauthammer who wrote one on polygamy and gay marriage being similar for what society might decide to regulate.

I doubt if you are buying beef from us but next time you arrange for one, let us know and we'll see if we can compete. *s* We are trying to get clientele for our beef. We have a small farm herd and it takes awhile to find enough customers to buy all we produce. It's why so many small growers give up, I think, but we love the cattle and enjoy the idea of providing a healthier food.

Idler said...

It’s certainly true that the mere persistence of a custom doesn’t make it valuable or right, but it ought to at least counsel serious consideration when considering undoing it. Also, Common Law privileges “custom and usage,” establishing a prejudice in favor of existing and especially long-standing law. Furthermore, from a judicial standpoint the principle of stare decisis requires caution in undoing established law. But legal strictures aside, doesn’t it seem to you that caution is in order when seeking to suddenly overturn milennial custom? Why do you think marriage has been as popular as it has been? What do you think of Murray’s arguments and what he characterizes as the denial of people to acknowledge the destructive effects of the deterioration of marriage?

(Before moving on, it’s worth noting that slavery was not part of the Common Law tradition that settlers brought to North America but was an innovation attached to the Anglo-American legal tradition in the New World. Slavery was in fact at odds with that tradition—along with the more strictly Enlightenment concepts that influenced the founders—and created an intolerable constitutional tension that led to a terrible armed conflict.)

With regard to the gay marriage issue, one of the factors in the popular response was that the status quo was changed in an undemocratic. Thus in some way and to some measure, there was a backlash. Even still, people can oppose gay marriage without feeling they’re persecuting anybody.

I don’t think the success or failure of gay marriage advocacy turns on strictly religious opinions. There are enough people who have no problem with some kind of same-sex civil union. For example, I think the idea that someone's life companion has no status to visit him in the hospital is cruel and absurd. But, like many people, I don’t think what same sex couples have fits the definition of marriage. Until someone finds better arguments than I’ve seen, I’ll remain in that camp—and my judgment is entirely prudential and not at all religious. I think the state has an interest in supporting marriage as fundamentally a procreative relationship. People are free to have kids or not, but it’s good that the state formally recognizes and acknowledges the obligations of those who bring up the next generation of citizens.

I think you’re simply wrong in saying all sexual partners in the end desire the same thing. Rather, people benefit from institutional support to do the right thing. The custom of marriage is a kind of folk recognition that this is the case. The duties specified in marriage are hard to perform, so societies require that couples make a binding public commitment in advance. To me the good sense of this is obvious. It says something about the hyper-individualism and consumerism of our society that people have to be reminded of such reasons.

It’s no doubt beneficial to society that individuals have stable relationships, but it’s not the fundamental reason for marriage. Ultimately, that two adults should commit to loving and supporting each other exclusively throughout their lives is of relatively little consequence to a society. What is of enormous consequence is that children have a secure place to grow and learn in. Marriage is the institutionalization of the obligation of parents to provide such a place.

Regarding the beef, by all means drop me a line with your contact information. The couple that’s doing the purchasing lives somewhere around Vancouver and the rest of us live in Portland or Gresham. I’ll be sure to circulate the information to the appropriate parties. Gosh, if you could locate Argentines and Uruguayans, you might have find a market there. I’ve looked for them without luck so far. I was thrilled to find out soon after I moved to this area that there was a steakhouse called El Gaucho. I was very disappointed to learn that the only Argentine thing about it is the name! Grass-fed beef rules.

Idler said...

Whoops. In my third paragraph I meant to write:

"the status quo was changed in an undemocratic FASHION."

Rain said...

I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I would do as I said-- call all government licenses civil unions and let churches rant against gays not being allowed full marriages, keeping the government out of it. I will vote anytime I get the chance for homosexuals to be given the same legal status as heterosexuals where it comes to sexual partnerships. I think personally fear played a role in a lot of people who didn't want that. There are more people than you would want to think who do fear God will zap them if they do the wrong thing.

As for the beef, my email is here, I think, if not I will make sure it is, and you can write there if you want about it.

Rain said...

Rereading some of the comments here, I never commented on Laura's who I thought wrote quite well on the topic :)I agree with what she said though and that might be why I thought that :) I will do a blog sometime on polyamory ........

Idler said...

Actually on the gay marriage issue you're asking for the law to get involved. The whole point of the gay marriage campaign is to get the government involved. Activist gay couples WANT the government stamp of approval. They are emphatically not satisfied with being left alone.

I think your proposal for having one category of civil unions is a reasonable one, though for reasons I've stated (and you haven't refuted), I think it's suboptimal from a state interest point of view, as well as simply being an unjustified change in established law. From an administrative point of view I don't think it would result in any difficulties, but it would lower the status of the procreative relationship to an even further irrelevance than heterosexuals have already brought it to. I think that's a serious misfortune.

I don't quite understand why you dwell on the religious point of view. It has nothing to do with what I've argued.

I'll say this, though: I think that it's not only religious people who hold positions on this debate without rational support (which is not to say that religious opinions are necessarily without rational support in any given case). Maybe some people hold onto an opinion because they fear being struck by a thunderbolt. Others cling to their opinion because it's comfortable to them for irrational reasons of non-religious origin. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's something to be said for something feeling right, though ultimately it's a flimsy basis.

All opinions will incorporate some irrational elements, but what's important is how well they can be defended when put to rational scrutiny. I'm quite happy to agree to differ with someone as reasonable and likeable as you, but I will confess a certain disappointment at not having my arguments on this subject put to a little more scrutiny with regard to the particulars. Having worked pretty hard to arrive at a solid position, it's a let-down to see its substance rejected without due diligence, so to speak.

I think Murray is right about denial (considering the question of the erosion of traditional marriage as a whole). As he says, we're embarking on an unprecedented experiment and the short-term results already argue that it's folly. But who cares! We live in a profoundly self-indulgent time in which ego trumps all and no particular responsibility is felt about the consequences. The unquestionable standard is "I get what I want." The effects on children and society as a whole are irrelevant, so why dwell on them?

As Murray said, incredulously:

We have conveniently concluded that what we enjoy is what we should do.

Rain said...

Well to me, it's the government, for monetary reasons who got involved with all this to begin with. Not like gays asked for there to be one kind of relationship for their families and another for heterosexual families.

As for your points, I think it's already been shown that gay couples can raise children quite well. The women can be artificially inseminated just as any heterosexual couple might end up having to do; and the gay males can adopt now. So the argument that marriage is only about procreating and raising children is invalid-- in my opinion. The difference is that for now the couples who don't fit traditional roles as has been defined by the state do not get legal authority for their union.

My kids lived with their now spouses before they married-- very typical today but not something I was pleased about at the time. My daughter said when she and her now husband were married, she was amazed how it changed her status in the eyes of the world. She hadn't expected it but businesses, everywhere, it was just different. why would we deny that to gay couples based on some vague fear that they will wreck heterosexual marriage which you have already said you see liberals as having done *s*

I believe what I do about homosexuals being allowed civil unions and all heterosexual marriages referred to as that also because I think it's fair.. and despite the fact the world isn't fair a lot of the time, why not make it fair when we can. If someone is homosexual, they already pay a high price in this culture for it-- higher yet in some others; so why make it harder than it has to be on their families AND they can have families now.

Frankly considering the difficulty of divorce and how splitting up everything can be so hard emotionally on people, it's a tribute to what they see as marriage that they want it.

Parapluie said...

I see a parallel between how we respect animals and how we are concerned about forming a fair stand in respect to gay marriage. IN addition spending time thinking and debating these topics is healthy. In support of what we are doing today I saw a wonderful bumper sticker - "Our family values critical thinking." When gay marriage becomes an issue for voters there is so much fear propaganda that people do not think critically.

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Guitar Master said...

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