Conservatives have long argued that the legalization of same-sex marriage will likely lead to the eventual legalization of polygamy because the same principles used to argue for same-sex marriage apply equally to polygamy. Liberals tended to say this was nonsense. Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, however, they are beginning to talk more openly about the legalization of polygamy.
In the New York Times, William Baude asks this very question:
With same-sex marriage on the books, we can now ask whether polyamorous relationships should be next. There is a very good argument that they should. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell did not focus primarily on the issue of sexual orientation. Instead, its main focus was on a “fundamental right to marry” — a right that he said could not be limited to rigid historical definitions or left to the legislative process. That right was about autonomy and fulfillment, about child rearing and the social order. By those lights, groups of adults who have profound polyamorous attachments and wish to build families and join the community have a strong claim to a right to marry.
Baude’s point is clear: Whether the majority opinion intended it or not, it has set up the legal precedent and legal logic to legalize polygamy. He thinks polygamy could be legalized in 20-40 years. I wouldn’t bet on it. If I had to make a prediction, I would say polygamy will be legal in all 50 states in the next 5-10 years. The handwriting is on the wall.
For additional reading:
- Legalize polygamy!
- Please tell us, counsel, why polygamy is not next?
- The Challenge Bisexuals Pose to Common Same-Sex Marriage Arguments