Tag Archives: Polygamy

Marriage Rights: Separate but equal?

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Marriage Rights: Separate but equal?

When prompted about the idea of legalizing poly marriage some people simply shrug it off as not being a big deal.  In my experience these people fit into one of two categories.  They are monogamous OR they are not politically motivated.

If they fit into the latter group, then there’s nothing more to say.  They don’t vote, don’t concern themselves with the idea of justice (social or otherwise).    All that they know is their day to day life.  These are the people that believe discussions of grandeur – involving topics such as politics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, etc. are a waste of time.  So, am I offended when they shrug and change the topic of conversation to the latest episode of their favorite comic book series or what a co-worker said that pissed them off? Nope.  Irritated but not offended.

Now, onto the former group – the monogamous types.  I give them credit that not all of them are vehemently opposed to a different-looking marriage. Some of them are.  Standing on their soap boxes reciting verses from the bible or their own personal moral code, saying that marriage is between one man and one woman.  Your god tells you this is wrong … alright, then you probably should do it.  That doesn’t mean you have the right to stop me from doing it or to force me to believe what you believe.  The arrogance of these people offends me.  I will firmly defend anyone’s right to believe in whatever they choose, to say whatever they want to say because I don’t believe that everyone should live their lives as I would live mine – even if that means their choices offend me.  So, it offends me when I’m not given the same consideration in return.

I’m also reminded of a certain quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Inequality should never be allowed to stand regardless of who it affects and who it doesn’t or if some people think it doesn’t matter.  I’m reminded of the Holocaust.  And the adage about the individual that watched as they came for her neighbors, friends, co-workers, family members, and did nothing.  She simply watched.  And then when they came for her, she realized there was no one left to stand up for her.

Some people may ask, what harm does inequality in this fashion do? So what, some people can’t express their love through marriage.  Most marriages end in divorce anyway today.

If you’ve heard of something called human rights, then you will be familiar with the argument I’m about to make. Everyone, regardless of citizenship, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, race, or any other label has certain rights just for being human.  We can argue exactly about what those rights are but they do exist.  I’m not sure if the right to marry is a human right, but the right to love certainly is and by outlawing some forms of relationship you’re are effectively putting limits on how people can love each other.  We should be able to love as we please.  Love as our hearts or minds dictate.

Only today, you better make sure your heart leads you to someone of the opposite sex.  One person of the opposite sex.  If your heart has other inclinations then you’re just going to have to tell it to be still.  To do as it’s told.  To do as the law tells it to.  To hide in dark corners and lie and hold its breath in fear that someone might find out exactly where your heart lies.

In fact, it would be much easier if your heart could change its mind.  Marry appropriately.  If you are a man, then marry a woman.  You can still have sex with other men if you want … that’s not problematic at all!  You can still have sex with other women, fall in love with other women and have children with them, sure go ahead.  No one is harmed in that situation! You just can’t live with your other family.  Can’t provide for them as we all believe you should.  Can’t acknowledge them in certain social circles or pragmatic ways, but that’s not really harmful is it?

Let’s break it down even further.  Children in preschool are playing with toys and each other.  They’re having a ball.  The teacher walks over and points to three kids out of the group and tells them to stop.  They are not allowed to play with each other.  They can play with the other kids but not each other.  Why? Could there ever be a reasonable explanation for this or does every child have the right to decide who they will play with? And is it fair that those three kids are singled out? To have separate rules for some people?

All over the world equality is challenged.  But YOU probably have the right to believe whatever you want and do as you please, just as the majority does.  Well, as long as you are not gay.  Or lesbian.  Or Muslim.  Or a woman.  Or black or Latino.

Or poly.

Polygamy Around the World

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Polygamy worldwideIn the Present

Polygamy is legal in 50 countries around the world.  Most of these countries exist in Africa, southeast Asia, and the Middle East.  They are represented by dark blue on the map to the right.  Another 15 African countries accept polygamy as part of their culture and it continues to exist even if it has been outlawed.  This phenomena is due to differences in customary law (history and culture) and civil law.  South Africa is an example of this.  In some cases, civil law is reflective of colonization and not the temperature of the people.

An interesting note – some countries make the legality of polygyny contingent upon the first wife’s approval.

In the Past

Regional differences accounted for the disparate popularity of polygyny and polyandry.

Historically, in regions where resources were scarce sharing one wife was very common.  This was seen as a practical solution.  The costs of maintaining a family were distributed amongst several men and the number of offspring was limited.  On the other hand, some matriarchal societies chose polyandry not out of economic necessity but because it reflected their cultural beliefs. And still other regions chose polyandry because men largely outnumbered women in their societies.

Polygany was seen as an extravagant display of wealth or blessings.  If a man was important or wealthy, then he was more likely to have many wives.

In Religion

Jewish law forbids polyandry but not polygyny.

Muslim law forbids polyandry but not polygyny.

Christianity (with the exception of Mormon Fundamentalism) forbids both polyandry and polygyny, strongly advocating for monogamous relationships.

Hindu text looks favorably upon polyandry but does not advocate in one way or the other.

Buddhist text advises followers against committing sexual misconduct but leaves it up to them to decide exactly what constitutes misconduct.

Paganism openly accepts all forms of polygamy/polyamory.

Recent Headlines

In Canada …

British Columbia Upholds Ban on Polygamy

In USA …

Letters to the Editor About TLC’s Sister Wives

In Turkey …

Adviser Faces Criminal Charges

In South Africa …

South African President Faces Criticism for Fathering a Child Outside of his Three Wives