Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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April 27, 2015

The monotony of monogamy

by Nicholas Shereikis, Grand Vizier
Editor's note: this story was edited on Apr. 28, 2015 to clarify the author's intent.

As of now, 36 states have legalized same-sex marriage. However, though a majority of the country has legalized it, the right to marry whoever you want is still one of the nation's most widely debated issues. Republican senator Lindsey Graham has even gone so far as to pose an interesting question: should polygamy be treated the same way as same-sex marriage? Although the comment portrays polygamy as the worst possible scenario, it shouldn't. In the wake of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in the U.S., legalizing polygamy actually seems like the obvious next step.

Right now, the definition of marriage has two main components. The first is that it's the union of two people. The second is that those people are of opposite genders. However, LGBT groups have been claiming for years that the latter part of this definition is discriminatory and ignorant. But if we accept that–and we do–then how can we reinforce the first portion of that? Or, as syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer so succinctly puts it: "If it is blind tradition or rank prejudice to insist that those who marry be of the opposite sex, is it not blind tradition or rank prejudice to insist that those who marry be just two?"
Advocates march to support legalizing polygamy. Courtesy of Creative Commons
Advocates march to support legalizing polygamy.

One of the most interesting facets of this so-called 'polygamy challenge' is the LGBT community's refusal to accept it. Andrew Sullivan, an author and advocate for same-sex marriage, has called polygamy an 'activity.' Polygamy, he says, is a choice rather than a state of being. Interestingly enough, this argument is identical to the one used against same-sex marriage.

The big issue here is that the reasoning behind outlawing polygamy is flawed. Polygamy is illegal because, essentially, people find it morally abhorrent or unnatural. It's the same reason that same-sex marriage was illegal: religion, tradition, moral preference. But we're moving away from that. And if we're going to declare that those reasons are no longer valid, then there's also no reason not to legalize polygamy.

At the very percent of marriage as an institution, it had nothing to do with love. The creation of marriage originally served to establish a more stable society with clearly defined lines of inheritance and land ownership, as well as taxation. Love between two individuals took the backseat. This is most obvious in the historical dominance of arranged marriages.

From a biological perspective, our commitment to monogamy as a species is questionable. Out of the roughly 5,000 species of mammal, only three to five percent are monogamous - and of those, most commit so intensely to their partner that they will not mate again even if their mate is killed. The human commitment to monogamy is nowhere near as serious, as evidenced by the number of people who remarry after divorce or a spouse's death. It’s also been clearly evident for years that humans, as a species, are not good at monogamy. According to a recent study conducted by demographers at the University of Minnesota, the national divorce rate has risen 40 percent since 1980.

Yet in the United States, monogamy is enforced by law with criminal adultery statutes, laws against bigamy and child custody laws. While prosecutions pertaining to violations of these laws are rare, statutory penalties against these crimes range from two years' imprisonment to commitment for treatment of insanity. These consequences are strikingly similar to the historical persecution of homosexuals, persecutions that are now being declared unfair and inequitable.

Polygamy is illegal for the same reasons that same-sex marriage still is in 14 states. Now that we’re labeling the forbiddance of same-sex marriage unjust and invidious, there's no reason not to extend that to the forbiddance of polygamy.

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  • Concerned Blazer on April 27, 2015 at 8:16 PM
    This argument is incorrect and idiotic and I will start with the most blatantly obvious fallacy: POLYAMORY IS NOT ILLEGAL. The definition of polyamory is: "the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time." MANY people in our country are currently in love with and/or romantically involved with more than one person. What you mean is polygamy; marriage to multiple partners. It may seem like a simple mistake but it makes you sound foolish and uninformed. The fact that you don't even use the correct word (which can be obtained by opening a dictionary, or even google) is a clear indicator that you did not do your research and are not informed on this topic. You also completely misdefined and misrepresented serial monogamy. It has nothing to do with an "innate desire for more relationships" and is in fact the opposite-- they do not feel fulfilled unless they are in a MONOGOMOUS (or rather, monoamorous) relationship. They do not move on to other relationships, plural, but to another monoamorous one. This does not mean that marriage doesn't work; it means that if a previous relatonship fails, they will seek more monoamory. This is the exact opposite of polyamory and therefore actually contradicts your argument. I urge you to please, next time, know what you are talking about before you write such an egregiously misinformed article.
    • lol on April 27, 2015 at 11:44 PM
      ^true, dang
      • yeah on April 28, 2015 at 2:32 PM
        Totally need to b so harsh tho
  • Richard (View Email) on April 28, 2015 at 11:24 AM
    Nobody here is an idiot. There are simply people with strongly held opinions about a sensitive subject. The general tone of the laws of many states are obviously against romantic relationships between more than two people. Several states even have laws against the teaching of polygamy.

    There are currently 11 states in the US that outlaw sexual relations between unmarried, consenting adults. The sex laws in some jurisdictions even include restrictions on sex toys and flirting.

    In research done for our upcoming book, Creating a Line Family, we found three states that have the least restrictive laws on personal sexual practices. They are Washington, Oregon and California. And we consider California the best state, from a legal standpoint, for poly families because a child can have as many legal parents as you can get a judge to sign off on.

    Our book is coming out in late August of this year. See an early, rough version of the book at wwwDotline-familyDotinfo/
  • SCO reader on April 28, 2015 at 12:20 PM
    This is a very strong opinion piece - very well written.
  • god damn it silverchips on April 28, 2015 at 12:40 PM
    Polyamory is in no way illegal. You are allowed to love, **** or live with any number of people. Marrying more than one person is. Once again silver chips online shows that it has zero quality control when it comes to op/ed pieces.

    On the issue, I think that there's legal issues in: logistics (taxes, loans, etc.), consent and the difference between polyamory and having multiple spouses.

    On a moral compass, I think that marriage is an important decision that should be between any two people. It is a full life-long commitment to a person. A third person will inevitably become "the third wheel".
    • Caligula on April 28, 2015 at 5:56 PM
      So here's the thing. The first part of your comment is pretty useless for a couple of reasons:

      a) it's already been pointed out, and
      b) there's no use bashing the site when the problem's been fixed already. It is a high school paper after all. They're doing their best.

      You (and 'Concerned Blazer') are also both missing the point of the article. You can nitpick over terminology all you want, but the message being conveyed here is well-defended. If you're going to take an opposing viewpoint, do so not because of a minor error but because you have an issue with the crux of the argument. The writer did take on a controversial topic here, and he should recognize that, but I think he did it justice. Don't devalue the work or argument because of one mistake from an online high school newspaper (no offense, Silver Chips). There's also no need to be as harsh as you were.

      As for the rest of your comment, it's completely subjective. Just because you view marriage as a commitment solely between two people doesn't mean everyone does (good comparison in the article to the arguments against say marriage). Using such a generalized argument as "a third person will inevitably become "the third wheel"" means that you've invalidated the very real opinions and experiences of those who HAVE managed to make a poly relationship work, or those who support it. You've also imposed your viewpoint without considering the other side of the argument, which, interestingly enough, is what this article warns against.

      To be quite frank, I think you've missed the point of the article entirely. And I'm shocked at the way you and the first commenter chose to convey your messages. Common courtesy obviously isn't your strong suit.
  • Anon on April 28, 2015 at 2:17 PM
    Agreed, nobody is an idiot. Berating someone for one mistake helps nobody. On the other hand, it's good to see the error was apparently recognized and the post update. Smoothly dealt with. Well done.
  • Misogynism!! on April 28, 2015 at 9:46 PM
    In societies where polygamy was/is the norm, women have been exploited and abused. Ever hear of a woman having more than one husband? Didn't think so. Polygamy is just a system set up to opress women and force them to fight amongst themselves for the attention of a shared husband.
  • Marty on April 29, 2015 at 12:01 AM
    It may be the same argument that both homosexuality and polygamy are choices, but one argument happens to be true and the other false.
  • Keith Pullman (View Email) on April 29, 2015 at 8:21 AM
    Under a system of gender equality, there is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage (and any of those without the others) with any and all consenting adults. Polyamory, polygamy, open relationships are not for everyone, but they are for some. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality "just for some" is not equality. Let's stand up for EVERY ADULT'S right to marry the person(s) they love. It is absurd that in most places, it is entirely legal for an adult to live with two or more other adults and have children with all of them but NOT be legally married to all of them at the same times, if that is what everyone wants. All of the paperwork issues can be resolved.

  • Tera on May 4, 2015 at 8:04 AM
    As "Misogynism!!" said, the history of polygamy is fraught with abusive situations. While I have no problem with polyamorous relationships between consenting adults, the result of legalizing polygamous marriages at this point would likely be a return of "harems," in which one man exploits many women. I feel that our culture has a long way to go before legal polygamous marriages are a good idea, but to get there we must educate people on the nature of healthy polygamous relationships.
    tl;dr As a society, we aren't mature enough to accept polygamy...yet.
  • What's the problem? on May 4, 2015 at 1:02 PM
    I think the problem with debating the morality of polygamy is the same as with most of the other marriage debates that came before it. My number one counter-argument to anyone nay-saying Polygamy would be "If it doesn't negatively impact your life, but positively impacts the lives of others, why not allow it?" The answer I usually get is something about morality or (heaven forbid) protecting the sanctity of marriage. When it comes to protecting the sanctity of marriage, it's a slippery slope because that's the same thing that people discuss when talking about LGBT marriage, and it's what people discussed in the past when interracial marriage was still illegal.
  • Blazed up Blazer on May 8, 2015 at 8:48 PM
    Bruhhh, yo article got me fillin' like im on the clouds bruh. That joint was danker than mah kush ya feel bruhta. I mean I all your on gettin with multiple partnah ya feel? You get bored and stuff. Like i ain't gon' just roll one type a blunt Imma mix that joint up a little. Just a heads up yo.
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