Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

May 31, 2015

Legal group-marriage date: 2040, predicts NYT conservative

New York Times

Ross Douthat, a house cultural conservative at the New York Times, predicts the end date for the slippery slope.

Or what we would call the stairway up.1

Excerpts from the "Sunday Review" section of today's Sunday NYT:

The Prospects for Polygamy

By Ross Douthat

On every issue save abortion2, social liberalism is suddenly ascendant in America. The shift on same-sex marriage has captured the headlines, but the change is much more comprehensive: In just 15 years, we have gone from being a society divided roughly evenly between progressive and traditionalist visions to a country where social conservatism is countercultural and clearly in retreat.

This reality is laid bare in the latest Gallup social issues survey, which shows that it’s not only support for same-sex marriage that’s climbing swiftly: so is approval of unwed parenthood (45 percent in 2001, 61 percent now), divorce (59 percent then, 71 percent today), and premarital sex (53 percent then, 68 percent now). Approval of physician-assisted suicide is up seven points and support for research that destroys human embryos for research is up 12, pushing both practices toward supermajority support.

Oh, and one more thing: The acceptance of polygamy has more than doubled.

Now admittedly, that last one is an outlier: Support for plural matrimony rose to 16 percent from 7 percent, a swift rise but still a very low number. Polygamy is bobbing forward in social liberalism’s wake, but it’s a long way from being part of the new permissive consensus.

Whether it will eventually get there is an interesting question....

...“Polygamy” is just the uncool, biblical-sounding term of art. Call it polyamory or “ethical nonmonogamy” and suddenly you have a less disreputable demographic interested — not only the commune-and-granola set, but the young and fashionable in Silicon Valley, where it’s just another experiment in digital-age social life.... Indeed, greater acceptance is almost guaranteed.

The question is, what then? Can Americans say a permanent “no” to recognizing plural marriage once we’ve rooted for the Browns to get a “My Sisterwife’s Closet” jewelry line off the ground? Can a cultural left that believes in proliferating gender identities and Bruce Jenner’s essential womanhood draw the line, long-term, when a lesbian couple wants to include their baby’s biological father in their legal family, or when the child of polygamists stands up in court to say he wants his dad recognized as his mother’s legal spouse?...

I feel safe predicting that polygamy will not be legally recognized, with fanfare and trumpets, in 2025.

But it might be recognized in 2040, with a shrug.

Read the whole article (May 30, 2015). My guess is he may have the date about right.


1 As I've said before: If you accept the framing that civil rights and social acceptance are a slippery slope down, you've lost the debate before you open your mouth. Slipping on a slope is a painful accident that leads downward. Instead, reframe it as a stairway up. Each step is a deliberate, effortful, carefully chosen advance toward a more humane, just, enlightened world.

With that framing, you can consider which steps are actually upward, and which steps to take.

Or as Tree of Polycamp Northwest fame once put it, awkwardly,

Giving blacks the vote, women the vote, contraception — it's all a slippery slope to a place of better social justice and acceptance.

Whether legal recognition of complex marriages could actually work anytime soon is a different, knottier problem from a purely practical standpoint, as I've described here.


2 Actually, abortion is showing a bit of this trend too.


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