Andrea has an op-ed on polygamy in the Sun today. Read it here. My favourite part:
From prehistoric times until the late 20th century, marriage was understood as a child-centred institution between one man and one woman, for life.
Though you’d be hard pressed to find this view on any university campus, marriage served to protect women and children, chiefly by obliging men to stick around to help raise them. (Sex was confined to marriage so any resulting children were identifiably linked to both parents–finally both men and women were held responsible.)
Today, marriage is chiefly based on love and weddings are an opportunity to have a party. We (well, the Supreme Court) already agreed marriage should not be limited by sexual orientation.
What justification is there now to limit the number of partners?
We already collectively accepted it needn’t be for life and it needn’t be between members of the opposite sex. If you are against polygamy, but in favour of same sex marriage, you’re between a rock and a hard place.
Rebecca adds: As to whether or not the care, legitimization and support of children is the prime role of marriage, nobody has explained it better than David Blankenhorn in his magisterial book The Future of Marriage. Yes, the details have varied, and yes, virtually all societies have recognized marriages that did not, or could not, involve procreation, but the essence of marriage is to create a functional context in which to produce the next generation.
Andrea adds: Blankenhorn makes this comparison to highlight his point–he says that not everyone buys a car to drive it, but that doesn’t mean cars aren’t primarily meant for driving. Some people, it’s true, they only collect cars. But because that is true, we’d never say that there’s no connection between cars and driving. (I’m paraphrasing.)
I also just read this in Marriage and Caste in America: “…no culture has ever designed a model of fatherhood without matrimony.” When we separate child bearing from marriage (and this is not to say that every married couple absolutely must have kids–just that kids ought to have married parents) it is an unprecedented experiment.