At Issue: Polygamy has emerged as an issue in the recent, ferocious marriage debates. Do you think sanctioning gay marriage could lead to legalize polygamy as well?
Response: The debate over gay marriage has certainly opened a Pandora’s Box but I don’t think the subject of polygamy is one of the most serious questions. Some of those against gay marriage claim it will lead to all kinds of sordid arrangements like people wanting to marry their pets. Advocates say that the sun will still rise in the East even if gay couples wed.
I think the more interesting questions are: what is the proper jurisdiction of government? And, what does it mean to have equal treatment under the law?
Concerning jurisdiction, would it be better for government to stick with civil unions for everyone rather than take it upon itself to define marriage? Perhaps the marriage union should be left up to others such as church, family, and individuals. The institution of marriage certainly carries with it a spiritual, if not religious, aspect. It also confers a certain status within the community which is not wholly described by law. I believe the government has plenty to do dealing with such issues as education, poverty, and healthcare, let alone its place in the world community, to concern itself with the love lives of gay or heterosexual couples.
This leads to the second question: should some citizens be granted rights and privileges that others are denied? The maturation of democracy requires dealing with this kind of question. What does equality for all citizens, rich or poor, male or female, white or non-white, gay or straight, really mean? Equal education, equal justice, equal protection, equal opportunity — these are all areas which could use serious debate. The subject of polygamy is not one of those areas.
– Rev. Carol Aguilar
Published: April 4, 2004