Marriage Means Nothing

Glancing at Drudge this morning I saw an article at Breitbart titled, North Dakota Allows Man In Same Sex Marriage To Also Marry Woman.


Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well that made the short list of news articles to read:

While many wildly speculated that the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy, they probably never thought it would be like this. Presented with a legal hypothetical, Attorney General Stenehjem answered three questions: whether someone in a same-sex marriage in another state can also receive a marriage license to someone of the opposite sex in North Dakota, whether they can file legal documents as “Single” when they possess a same-sex marriage license in another state, and whether this would open the individual up for prosecution under another state’s bigamy laws.

The answer to all these questions, essentially, is that a person can legally possess two marriage licenses in North Dakota, because a same-sex marriage license is not recognized. 

I felt like I was reading some sort of Harlan Ellison dystopian short story from the 1970’s.  But here I am, in a dystopian future.  I imagine what it would be like to go back in time to the 70’s and show this headline off, “Yep, this is your future folks!”  Quick, get me a DeLorean!

So our current legal environment is such that if you are in a gay marriage, you can move to another State where gay marriage isn’t recognized, and get married again, since, hey, the State doesn’t recognize your first marriage as legal.  But as soon as it does (and they all will eventually), bam!  You are a bigamist charged with a felony.  So if you are gay or, as the case with this guy, very confused, you better hope your State doesn’t recognize gay marriage, because as soon as it does, you’re in big trouble.  And as we’ve seen in other States, if your State doesn’t recognize gay marriage, you can’t get a gay divorce.  You can only get a gay divorce when the legal environment makes it too late to do you any good as far as avoiding bigamy charges.

So what’s our poor, multiple married guy going to do?  First, hope he has both an understanding wife and an understanding husband, but secondly, here come the courts to the rescue again.

A federal judge in Utah has struck down part of that state’s law banning polygamy, after a lawsuit was brought by the stars of the television reality series “Sister Wives.”

The ruling late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups threw out the law’s section prohibiting “cohabitation,” saying it violates constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.

I did in fact watch the first season of Sister Wives.  Unfortunately, I lost interest because the wives just were not hot enough to make the show interesting. But this goes back to the age old question, which is better, four just so so wives or one hot one?  Philosophers  debate… but as a show I lost interest. But the lesson of both Sister Wives and Brown v Buhman is maybe you don’t have to stick with just one spouse, regardless of sex.  Marriage must be an infinitely flexible institution.

So for all of the critics who thought gay marriage would lead to polygamy, congratulations, you were correct.  You still lost the argument.  Gay marriage, as an institution that will eventually cover all 50 States, is inevitable.

Of course, whatever you call it, whether it’s gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, or whatever new moniker is attached to it, it still won’t actually be marriage.

Marriage as an institution has existed for thousands of years, and probably precedes what we think of as recorded human history.  In that time it’s stretched and bended to accommodate a great deal of different cultures and various economic and social circumstances, including various forms of polygamy, but in all that time it’s never been stretched to include 2 people of the same sex getting together and calling it marriage.  Oh homosexuality has been around as long, if not longer, than the institution of marriage, but they’ve never really had anything to do with one another.

Or at least they didn’t until 2001, when The Netherlands became the first country to legalize gay marriage.  Since then, quicker than you can say Winston Smith, the definition of marriage has been changing in dictionaries all over.  Oceania would have loved the internet.  It makes re-editing language so much easier.  My old print dictionary says nothing about same sex marriages, however if you pull up an online dictionary you’ll see the definition of a man and wife receding in importance to other gender free terms, such as the mutual relation of married persons, or the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage.

Changing language doesn’t change the reality of the situation however.  Words mean something. A thing is a thing, regardless of what you call it.  Taking the name of a something, and changing its meaning, does not change the thing itself.  Two dudes or two chicks playing house may be a lot of things, but it isn’t a marriage.  Even with a legal, hot off the courthouse steps, marriage certificate.  It may be legal, but it’s not a marriage.

Saying that it is a marriage is an argument that wouldn’t have been taken seriously decades ago, because there was a cultural consensus, backed up by the entirety of human history on what a marriage is.  When the British took India, they found a lot of odd (to them) customs, but they also found marriage.  Captain Cook found little he recognized culturally in the South Pacific, but he found marriage. Where ever there have been humans, there has been marriage.

Now of course, that historical consensus has broken apart.  But it’s not the fault of gays or the political chase for gay marriage.  Marriage became a joke long before it became a political football to win the gay vote.  Gay Marriage is a symptom, not the cause, of a weakened concept of matrimony.  Why that is may be the proper subject of multiple posts, but I’m sure this won’t be the last time real concepts will be rebranded and renamed in order to meet the politically correct agenda of the day.

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21 thoughts on “Marriage Means Nothing

  1. I don’t think I’ve said that plural marriage weakens the institution of marriage. I don’t think I even said that about gay marriage; merely it was a symptom of an already weakened institution. I was highlighting the Utah court decision because it dovetailed nicely with the North Dakota one as examples of the ancient institution being redefined over and over again in our lifetimes. The end result of course is that marriage will wind up being about nothing and meaning nothing.

    That being said, although I do recognize that plural marriages have a historical claim to actually be marriages, not something that was made up out of whole cloth a little more than a decade ago, I oppose the idea of legal plural marriages just the same. They tend to be associated with societies that regard women as property and we can see in societies that have them today, they generate a lot of angry young men with limited chances of marriage. Then of course they want to go blow up someone.

    For the society that I want to live in, a one man / one woman marriage seems to work much better.


  2. So in a free nation, the way I want to live doesn’t matter. Never mind that I have history on my side. You strike me as at least Libertarian leaning. A Libertarian realizes first and foremost that they must stay in their own yard and paddle their own canoe.


    • “Classical Liberal” might best describe my current political leanings. About 80% of those positions could be described as Libertarian, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve more and more realized that we don’t all live as individuals in our own personal Galt’s Gulch. We live as part of a wider society, and societal choices do have consequences for everyone in that society, even those of us who try to stay in our own yards.

      Sixty years ago, as changes in divorce laws made no fault divorce across the fifty states, one could reasonably ask, “What do I care if other people get divorced? It doesn’t affect my marriage.” And it didn’t, but it did affect marriage, as an institution. Divorce rates shot up and serial monogamy became a common and accepted mode of living. Now, 60% of children born in the 90’s grew up without their father in the home.

      Today, people are saying the same thing about gay marriage. It’s still too early to predict the effects of gay marriage on the institution, but I’m sure there will be some changes. Already marriage has degraded to the point where I’m seeing articles of women marrying bridges and walls, men marrying anime characters… things that will no doubt be considered valid life choices in the future. And as for polygamy, when we get to that point (we’ve just started that little journey) there well be even more unintended consequences. The intended consequences are bad enough.


      • A classic liberal goes around the circle to the left. A classic conservative goes around the circle to the right. If they get far enough along their journey, they get close to meeting on the other side. This is essentially the libertarian phenomenon. I agree that zoning becomes more important as we draw closer together, so I can’t crap in my yard because it might drain into your cistern. Having said that, if my hedge and fence are high, my blinds are drawn and my windows are shut, you shouldn’t bother with it. If I don’t come into your yard and ask you to do as I do, you should mind your own business. We both should attend to supporting our own lifestyles and choices first and foremost, instead of asking someone else to help us. That’s what I mean by “own yard” and “paddle your own.” We can meet at the mailbox and discuss what doesn’t aggravate either us and be civil. If I owned 10,000 acres and lived in a gulch in the middle of it, don’t fly your drone over my house to see if I’m humping one of my wives on my lawn in broad daylight. I’d also advise you to keep quiet about the trench out back I dug to crap in or the medical marijuana I legally grow to support my way of life.

        That’s pretty much the deal here.


      • I don’t think you really understand what a classical liberal is. I’m sure there is a Princess Bride meme image I could hunt up for that, but meh, too lazy… You get the idea.
        And although I appreciate you not crapping in your yard, in a sense you are trying to crap on the local community. The problem is that polygamy doesn’t stop at your mailbox. It washes all over the community.
        Your child by wife 1 is in the hospital. Wife 3 wants to visit. Is she a parent? Can she make parental decisions for that child?
        You want to put all 4 wives on your health insurance. Your company sponsored insurance will only allow one. Does that mean Wife 2, who works can put wife 3, who doesn’t, on her health insurance? What is the legal relationship to all the wives to each other?
        When you die, who gets your Social Security? Can they all claim to have their benefits increased based on your working life and SS amount?
        Wife 4 divorces you, but wants custody of the child of wife 1 and visitation rights for the child of wife 2.
        This is only scratching the surface. The modern world has never dealt with these issues. Are we going to have to consult laws and court decisions of Muslim countries to determine our own jurisprudence?
        On your 10,000 acres you can be the Sultan and have as many women in your harem as you want. If you are Alpha enough to have women fighting to be one of your wives, than more power to you. In fact, Brown v Buhman only affirms cohabitation. It doesn’t actual grant the constitutional right to multiple marriage licenses (yet! Patience…). The problem is once again, just like with gay marriage, you want society to affirm and not just tolerate, but approve of your lifestyle. Otherwise you would just stay on your 10,000 acres and do what you want.


  3. The only indirect flaw in your argument is that polygamy is almost certainly the true historical precedent for marriage; a man having just one wife is a relatively modern concept. If you look at surviving indigenous & primitive societies (in the amazon, papua new guinea, africa) they are almost all polygamous.

    You don’t think the youngest wife on Sister Wives is hot? She sure does whine a lot. They all whine a lot in fact. Poor Kody!


    • I did note in my post that historically marriage included various types of polygamy. So yes, I acknowledge it has a historical basis. I just don’t think it has any place in modern Western society. Although I’m sure it will fit right in with our pre-collapse Western society.

      As for the younger wife, yes she is more attractive than the older wives, but then, she’s younger. When you are on the hunt for wife #4, if you are going to go to that trouble to look for another wife, she had better be better looking than the other ones. But I’m not sure she’s worth the extra effort, particularly when you should have learned your lesson after the first three.


      • ” I just don’t think it has any place in modern Western society.”

        That’s a good point. After all, we’re not sacrificing virgins to make it rain anymore. It is interesting that it’s mostly “backwards” type groups who’ve hung onto polygamy. The FLDS look pretty inbred, no offense to them.

        This reality TV polygamist has hotter wives:


    • Primitives aren’t necessarily polygamous but polyamorous where women take multiple lovers. It is the most basic sexual arraignment. The society doesn’t advance because none of the men know whose children belong to who. Polygamy is an improvement over that you can have a civilization with polygamy it just won’t produce much, will be ridden with strife, and will be outmatched by monogamous empires.


  4. Spiders, you’re engaging in hatespeech and bigotry. You might as well say to a black person, “How can you speak through those thick lips?” Really? They look INBRED? Do the Dinkas look inbred to you? Saying “no offense” is just a way of punching someone and then claiming you didn’t really mean to do so. You did, and you went ahead and punched. Own up.

    Gay marriage “had no place in western society” 50 years ago, but now seems to have a seat at the table. I”m opposed to same sex marriage and think it’s actually an oxymoron, but I also recognize it’s none of my business. All I can do is privately express the view that no matter what gays do, I personally will not regard them as married in my own heart. As far as the law goes, I must afford them all the privileges that come with my legal marriage, as long as those privileges don’t infringe on my personal rights.

    The fact that you worship couples over and above real “traditional” marriage isn’t really my problem. The fact that I am an adherent to real “traditional” marriage shouldn’t be your business.

    The fact that you make this about “hotness” is truly insulting. Frankly my gaze travels now to many women I wouldn’t consider “hot” by most peoples standards, because I don’t need a trophy wife that cooks, cleans, goes to work, raises children and wins beauty contests in her spare time. I only need to see intrinsic value in the individual woman, whatever that might turn out to be. It’s rarely “hotness” that holds my interest.


  5. I don’t wish for society to approve of my lifestyle Mike, I want to them to leave me alone. As to your concerns about how my behavior affects you, I’d have to settle for the idea that it’s relative. Please don’t make me break into a refrain of “no man is an island” or SImon & Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock.”

    I can point out that my leanings in the area of “Paddle Your Own” make me morally inclined to NOT lean on you for retirement, medical care and other social welfare issues. I have this to submit about the most vilified and unpopular plural communities of recent history, the FLDS:

    “(T)he Texas Health and Human Services Commission has reported that none of the families who are members of the west Texas FLDS sect targeted by child protective services were on welfare, by becoming wards of the state they will be eligible for various taxpayer-funded social services they weren’t using before the April 3 raid.

    Actual numbers of recipients and total amounts spent to underwrite the families not now being taken care of are still being tabulated, said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for Texas human services. Whatever the figure, the amount will be minimal, and the governor has promised that appropriations to cover the costs will be made in any case.

    The Houston Chronicle has reported that not one of the nearly 3,000 residents of Schleicher County, where the Yearning for Zion Ranch is located, is receiving state assistance.”

    There were some families in Schleicher County on Federal Food stamps, but the number was unremarkable no data (at the time) pointed to them being FLDS members. It has to be assumed that a good portion of them were run of the mill Schleicher County residents not associated with the “Yearning for Zion” ranch.

    Prior to the publication of this article, which relied on data collected by the Houston Chronicle, it was believed that such sects leaned on social welfare programs. It’s apparent from this article that they did not, and in fact the invasion of their homes (by the way Texas saw NO “pregnant underage girls” when they stormed the ranch), was the actual CAUSE of many women and their children GOING on state assistance.

    They were taking care of their own. That was one their ethics. Texas also made sure their Doctor (Lloyd Hammond Barlow) was convicted of class B misdemeanors, depriving them of their own in house health care program. None of his “crimes” related to malpractice in the course of medical treatment.

    The point is that if their is a unifying group of characteristics shared by religious plural marriage practitioners in the United States, it is not marked by burdening the state, but more staying away from burdening or involving the state. Most of the views of religious plural marriage advocates are associated with the Libertarian Right when it comes to politics. We’re almost indistinguishable from people like Rand and Ron Paul.

    Whatever else happens, we generally don’t involve the rest of society in the costs of our behaviors. I know there are exceptions, as there always are to the general rule, but that’s just it. With general rules, the exceptions always prove the rule. We’re just not draining or affecting the rest of society, except when it comes to them having their moral belt lines drawn up to their eyebrows.


  6. I don’t see why people get married at all. People tell me you get a tax break but I don’t think it is worth it for all the money a divorce cost you. As far as gay vs. straight marriage, this probably could be solved buy calling them both marriage. It’s not like you need a church to recognize it. Governments, in my perfect world, have nothing to do with religion just money and paperwork. If you don’t like the idea of same sex marriage then don’t marry someone of the same sex. That way it won’t be effecting your life.


  7. I’m all for marriage being completely off the state books except for the disputes that arise from them, namely, the dissolution of those marriages. Even that I’d rather go to some form of arbitration as a first resort, and hopefully, a last one. Conservatives want to look in the bedroom, “Progressives” want to regulate and tax everything. I agree Gemma, that a church is not necessary. Being a Bible Thumper of the nth degree, I know that nowhere in scripture is it shown that a marriage is solemnified by church or state. It’s a private affair. Ideally.


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