I’m quite late jumping on the bandwagon, but here’s my two cents about polygamy… oh, but before we go any further, let’s just clear up some terms:
- Polygamy – The practice or condition of having more than one spouse at one time
- Polygyny – The practice or condition of having more than one wife at one time
- Polyandry – The practice or condition of having more than one husband at one time
Just needed to do that because polygamy is often misused to mean polygyny. Interestingly, the word spouse doesn’t seem to have a plural, so I’ll just use “spouses“ because “spice“ just sounds odd.
Anyway, that’s just me getting sidetracked. To come straight to the point:
I am all for polygamy and I don’t see any real legal problems or issues with it.
I have no personal wish to marry multiple people, but just because I don’t want to, doesn’t mean that others should be legally prevented from doing so. In this, I see no difference between this and the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in many states in the U.S. and countries around the world. As long as the partners are consenting… why the hell not?
I’ve heard of “concerns” about the legal status and complications that would occur… but seriously… what? We already have well-established laws for inheritance, childcare and hospital visitation rights that cover these “issues” and they already cover multiple people.
Someone dies with multiple partners. Inheritance laws already cover handing out possessions (in lieu of a will) to multiple children… handling multiple spouses will be no more complicated than handling multiple children. Where’s the problem?
A couple separates and childcare and/or visitation rights are set. You still have to make a choice of primary caregiver between multiple people and grant appropriate visitation or joint care rights if the people involved can’t be mature enough to sort it out between themselves. In my opinion, having multiple (rather than a binary) choice gives a higher chance of finding the best possible primary caregiver. Same need for a decision, same problem. Where’s the problem?
3. Hospital visitation
Someone goes to hospital. Your spouse is automatically granted visitation rights, even if you are not conscious to give it explicitly. That simply turns to: Your spouses are… Where’s the problem?
4. Care termination rights
Someone is on artificial life support machines. A decision has to be made whether to turn the machines off or not. This is already handled by a living will designating a surrogate decision maker… and guess what? If someone hasn’t made a living will, then the same procedures go in to action as with inheritance without a will to decide a surrogate. Where’s the problem?
5. Taxation and welfare
Married people often enjoy tax and welfare benefits. There are some simple have or not benefits, some that are calculated on combined income. If you’re married, you’re married. Where’s the problem?
If you have to calculate combined income, adding all incomes together and dividing by the number of spouses is not a great feat of mathematics – it’s the same average income, just spread over more than two people. Where’s the problem?
6. Right to marry
Who currently has a say on whether you can marry or not? The two people getting married (ignoring the bigamy/polygamy laws). If you’re already married and want to marry someone else, who should make that decision? The two getting married. Where’s the problem?
This is probably the most controversial point that I’ve tackled here. My point of view is that no previous spouse should legally have veto rights over whoever else you marry. In the eyes of the law, each person has spouses. The law can view that just on that front, completely ignoring spouses of spouses. Only the direct marriages count. If you want to have a truly interconnected polyamorous marriage, then just have all the parties marry every other party independently! Where’s the problem?
Maybe I’m just seeing things too simply, but I just don’t understand the complaints and reservations that I’ve heard so far – and forget about things like “too difficult”, “hard on the finances”, “childhood marriages” or whatever. Those soppy arguments apply equally to monogamy and it’s no argument at all because there are no emotional stability or financial restrictions on marriage today anyway. Yes, there are restrictions on age and consent, but social pressure has ensured that forced arranged marriages of minors (although the actual legal marriage doesn’t happen until legal age) still happens in today’s monogamy. Those points are moot.
If I’ve missed any points out, please comment and I’ll see how quickly I can’t find a problem with the issue… 😉