Polygamist Marriage Is Coming (And No, It’s Not a Slippery Slope Argument)

The recent Supreme Court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8 are landmark rulings that will play part in defining an era. It remains to be seen whether upcoming reforms will further consolidate federal power or grant autonomy to the states, but these rulings are largely a step in the right direction.

Now that the door has been opened to this kind of recognition, there’s only one more logical step that will need to be taken to prevent any further valid claims of discrimination: legalizing bigamy.

“Slippery slope argument,” you cry, “that’ll never happen!” You’d be wrong.

Consider this Buzzfeed piece where they interviewed Joe Darger, a Utah-based polygamist, who is celebrating the Supreme Court decision as a victory for his lifestyle:

“We’re very happy with it… I think [the court] has taken a step in correcting some inequality, and that’s certainly something that’s going to trickle down and impact us.”

Noting that the court found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional because the law denied marriage rights to a specific class of people, Darger said, “Our very existence has been classified as criminal… and I think the government needs to now recognize that we have a right to live free as much as anyone else.” 

The man makes a strong argument that is difficult to deny. For years, gay rights advocates have criticized proponents of heterosexual marriage laws for discriminating against them by declaring their relationships as superior. This is almost precisely the rationale the Supreme Court took in striking down Section 3 of DOMA to include gay couples. Logically, why should we stop here?

This does not mean that the step after polygamy is bestiality, incest, or pedophilia. These acts involve coercion principles that cannot be reconciled with modern law, beyond the fact that a vast majority in our society finds these acts deplorable and would not stand for their decriminalization.

These charts from the Wall Street Journal illustrate how public opinion on gay marriage has shifted dramatically over a short period of time. When the polygamist community begins to demand inclusion and equality, it will require similar fervor that is found in the gay rights debate, and may change public opinion in a similar way. Whether society embraces the lifestyle as it has that of gay citizens is a question all its own.

As for libertarians, the polygamy question should only further propel the argument that government shouldn’t be involved in any marriages in the first place. Particularly on the federal level, governments do not have the authority to regulate personal, contractual relationships such as these. Maybe it will take polygamist activism in the public spotlight for society at large to accept this argument and lessen government influence in our daily lives.

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