Anyone who has been paying attention to the debate surrounding the legalization of same sex marriage (a.k.a “Marriage Equality”) will undoubtedly have come across the vastly overused slippery slope argument that once Same Sex Marriage is legalized; Polygamous Marriage, Incestuous Marriage, “underage” marriage, and even Bestiality Marriage (etc.) will follow shortly thereafter. The theory goes like this; once we abandon a definition of marriage based on “tradition” to one based on “equity”, there will be nothing stopping the definition of marriage from infinite expansion as more and more groups demand “legitimacy” and “recognition” based on equitable treatment. Personally, I highly doubt that the slippery slope would ever reach the most extreme of these examples, as it is incredibly unlikely that society would ever accept a definition of marriage where one of the partners is not a (human) consenting adult. But, what exactly is wrong with Polygamous Marriage?
For me, the reason Same Sex Marriage should be legally recognized is that I don’t believe it is anyone’s business or right to restrict what consenting adults do. If Homosexuals wish to enter into a private partnership (that really does not impact anyone else positively or negatively), none of us have any business to restrict or judge them for it. But, continuing along with this reasoning, provided the relationship consists of uncoerced consenting adults; there is nothing wrong with Polygamous Marriage either.
For some reason, many people have a visceral reaction to the idea of Polygamous marriage. It is often viewed as exploitative, as somehow connected to backward and fanatical religious doctrines, and as if the participants are not rational adults who have made rational decisions. Granted, there are undoubtedly examples of abuse in polygamous relationships: entrapment, blackmail, violence, inequities of power, fanatical religions etc. But the same can be said of any relationship, even monogamous heterosexual ones. So, when all the participants in a Polygamous relationship are consenting adults, making informed and uncoerced decisions, what right do we have to restrict or judge them? Similar to Homosexuals, are they also not normal people with different tastes? Are they also not normal people simply seeking for their love to be recognized as equal by society? Why should they be treated differently? Why should they be denied legitimacy and recognition? Why should they be singled out as the thin end of the wedge?
Once you realise that there is no such thing as a “traditional” definition of marriage, that marriage is in fact a concept constantly in flux that means many different things to many different people, the idea of extending the franchise to same sex couples is perfectly reasonable. Once you have come to this conclusion, there is in fact nothing to stop the franchise also being extended to polygamous relationships. As with countless other aspects of life between consenting and uncoerced adults, it is simply no ones business or right to restrict or judge.