“Polygamy rights is the next civil rights battle.” So goes the motto of a Christian pro-polygamy organization that has been watching the battle over homosexual “marriage” rights with keen interest.
“We’re coming. We are next. There’s no doubt about it, we are next,” says Mark Henkel, founder of www.TruthBearer.org.
Traditional values groups often argue that legalizing same-sex “marriage” is a “slippery slope” — that if marriage is redefined to allow homosexuals to “wed,” it will be further redefined to allow other unions, including polygamous ones.
Homosexual rights leaders and their allies insist that the “slippery slope” argument is a rhetorical dodge. It’s a “scare tactic,” says Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson.
“What homosexuals are asking for is the right to marry, not anybody they love, but somebody they love, which is not at all the same thing,” Brookings Institution scholar Jonathan Rauch has written.
South Dakota lawmakers this year proposed the first constitutional marriage amendment that specifically outlaws unions of “two or more” persons.
The measure’s author, South Dakota state Rep. Elizabeth Kraus, said the ban on polygamy is intentional.
After Canada legalized same-sex “marriage,” its government “launched a study to look at the ramifications of polygamy,” Mrs. Kraus said. “Once you open the marriage door to anyone other than one man or one woman, you haven’t begun to slide down the slippery slope. You’ve already hit rock bottom.”
Voters will decide on the measure next November.
Also this year, a New Jersey appellate court expressed concerns about a right to polygamy in its 2-1 rejection of same-sex “marriage.”
“The same form of constitutional attack that plaintiffs mount against statutes limiting the institution of marriage to members of the opposite sex also could be made against statutes prohibiting polygamy,” New Jersey Appellate Judges Stephen Skillman and Anthony J. Parrillo said in their ruling in Lewis v. Harris.
“Indeed, there is arguably a stronger foundation for challenging statutes prohibiting polygamy than statutes limiting marriage to members of the opposite sex” because unlike homosexual “marriage,” polygamy has been and still is condoned by many religions and societies, they wrote.
Judge Donald G. Collester Jr., who dissented in the case, said his colleagues exaggerated the “specter of polygamy.”
The homosexual plaintiffs “do not question the binary aspect of marriage; they embrace it,” Judge Collester said. Moreover, he said, despite myriad briefs filed in the case, “no polygamists have applied” for marriage rights.
But can the polygamy issue be so easily dismissed?