Thursday, April 07, 2005

Lawrence, gay marriage, and polyamory

Remember that Andrew Sullivan and other advocates of gay marriage assured us if gay marriage became the law of the land (most likely by judicial fiat), polyamory (the current favored term for polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, group marriage, and the like) would not necessarily follow? That those who claimed polyamory would follow were alarmists? One argument was that there was not a large "pro-poly" constituency. If you think that's true, check out the conversation that's occurring here on this blog, or just google "polyandry."

It's hard to see how it could be otherwise. Gay marriage advocates who draw the line at polyandry (or contraceptive incest) are, by their own logic, only ascending to their proper place entitled by their civil rights when fighting for marriage, but then pulling up the ladder behind them when other groups make similar claims.

Also, the size of the constituency shouldn't matter if we're talking about ethical principles.

From Lawrence v. Texas:
"The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. 'It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.' Casey, supra, at 847. The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual."

From Planned Parenthood v. Casey (upon which Lawrence relies):
"These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State."

Reading these cases together, and positing (as courts in Massachusetts and California have) that the right to marry is central to personal dignity and autonomy, it becomes difficult to see why polyamory should be any different.
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