Personally, I'm in favor of marriage. The public declaration of fealty steers the focus of any marital problems onto resolution rather than dissolution. However, I don't think the question should be, "Should gay couples be allowed to marry?". It should be, "Why is the government involved, AT ALL, in how people wish to structure their households?".
We should be relying on government for assistance in enforcing contracts. But how these contracts are structured should be entirely up to the people involved. This, of course, includes people who wish to structure their households around participation by more than two individuals.
I guess there needs to be a set of default contracts (to protect children and establish ownership of chattels, etc.) which are deemed to be in effect when people share a household; but, other than that, the government should have no role.
I know that polygamy facilitates some injustices that never occur in "traditional" marriages <joke>, but is polygamy sufficiently evil by its nature to require the government to ban it?
In Scandinavia, the concept is actually put into place and the vast majority of children today are raised by the government 8-10 hours per day. First in public kindergardens, then in public schools, then at public universities.
This type of institutionalized and legally demanded third party interfering in the child rearing process works very well overall if viewed objectively.
As a side note, a benefit of a bit of socialism is that the generally ignorant leftists tend to apply their overemotional and drastic solutions to the elimination of religion in public life.
Studies in the field of psychology have demonstrated quite consistently that these benefits exist for married couples versus "committed" non-married couples and single parents. Every study I have seen controlled for neighborhood conditions, financial status, and many other variables.
Some studies have concluded that same-sex couples (including some married couples) raised children with little or no difference between those of the equivalent heterosexual living conditions, but none of them have survived peer review to date and all of them have received criticism even from (pro-)homosexual psychologists. Said studies also lacked a sufficient body of data to work with for obvious reasons.
How a contract and a ritual change the results of such studies is beyond me, but your idea seems like a plausible explanation; perhaps the attitude or purpose driving people who marry/married for traditional reasons is the cause of the observed benefits.
You can also find plenty of studies that come to the conclusion that social acceptance leads to a significant mental health increase for gay people. One shouldn't need a study to realize that.
Or read some testimony from the Prop 8 trial. The couples reported a marked difference in the way people (including their own families) treated them after they got married, even though they had already been together for many, many years.
Here are two reenactments:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwBsnklZpwM (from 5:00 on. At around 11:00 she explains the difference between DPs and marriage)
Not to mention the substantial financial benefits that (rightly or wrongly) flow from marriage. Especially important for people with lower incomes. For some it's a matter of life and death given the horrific medical system in America.
That's not it should be and people should treating couples the same (not necessarily in a legal sense) no matter whether they are married, but it's what we're stuck with. Some other countries are more advanced in that with a lot more people cohabitating, but the US was always a bit backwards in social matters.
"Studies in the field of psychology have demonstrated quite consistently that these benefits exist for married couples versus "committed" non-married couples and single parents. Every study I have seen controlled for neighborhood conditions, financial status, and many other variables."
Please cite some of these studies- I would like to review them (for adequate controls, adequate study designs, exclusion/inclusion criteria, confounding factors, etc.). The last two I reviewed (recommended by a colleague) were scientifically horrendous and did not support the so-called conclusions (similar, but not exact, issues).
Nothing wrong with it in today's society. It's a social contract that allows the government to enforce regulations on things like divorce and inheritance. I can't see how allowing for more than one spouse at a time would hurt. We already have people with multiple spouses - they just tend to be in serial order. So the "issues" are already inherent within the system. It would benefit those who are already in unrecognized multi-marriages by giving them legal rights, and thus legal ways to address issues like divorce and health care.
The only issues I'd be wary of would be if it skewed the numbers of available men to women. If more women were willing to share than men, you'd end up with a surplus of males whom had no options for a mate. Societies with this issue tend to be much more violent.
"Evidence exists for a link between sex ratios and violence. In a society with an artificial shortage of women, a combination of surplus of males and increased upward mobility of females results in accumulation of unmarried, lower-class males, who tend to be violence-prone. In the recent decades both in China and in India, regions with highest sex-selection rates experienced crime waves." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex-selective_abortion
Oh PLEASE don't trot out that old gender-availability trope. Polygamy is gender-neutral. It is multiple marriages. Period. PolyGYNY is multiple wives and polyANDRY is multiple husbands. It is only when you have a religiously-mandated order for men to have multiple wives that you end up with this whole "limited resource" stuff, where people are now "resources". It also completely negates sexual orientation and assumes 100% heterosexuality.
When multiple partnerships are entered into freely, by conscious choice, according to sexual orientation, you do not have this unequal distribution problem. You *also* don't have the violence problem, not because of the distribution of partners, but because the population doesn't view their partners as resources to begin with and generally has a much more communal worldview which conflicts with the whole tribalistic violence issue.
When each individual is free to make his or her own choices about partners, then you don't have a "surplus of males whom had no options for a mate". You have certain individuals who can't find partners because they suck as people.
Within the poly communities, we do not have this problem. Period. There is no incidence of violence, there is no "surplus of males". It is only in societies that view mating relationships as property, resources, and alliances, which are strongly correlated with both religion and violence. Not-so-coincidentally, you ALSO have a correlation between religion & violence with MONOGAMOUS relationships that are viewed as property, resources, and alliances.
I find it hard to believe these 'poly communities' are not void of problems.
There's a sociological dynamic that comes into play with any group more then two. I'm not saying this 'poly community' doesn't exist I'm saying that someone from my part of society would find aspects uncomfortable once I've experienced it. For instance, I could be attracted to more then one female and I would naturally prefer one over the other and then the dynamic begins.
I think you must have completely misread what I wrote somehow. I'd be pro-polly. I see no problem with consenting adults making whatever choices they want in their sex and personal lives. As long as a person doesn't actively try to harm others, their actions should be totally up to themselves (minus driving while intoxicated, which is stupid). "Slut" is still a big insult for women.
I included a real potential issue. I have met many poly-amorous couples (I grew up in a pretty liberal area) and there were, by far, more women willing to give it a try than men. This isn't always the case, and I'm pretty certain it's mainly due to social hang-ups in American sexuality, but it would be something to watch for. It takes time for society to catch up to new ideas. "Slut" is still a big insult used against women, because having many partners isn't what "women are supposed to do".
Humans like to have access to mates, and those without access tend to get a little snippy. Mates are a resource when you look at groups. They are also individuals, but that sure as hell doesn't make people without mates and the potential to mate feel any better.
That being said, the only statistical information I can find on polygamy as practiced now in the US/Canada focuses on the Mormon fundies who are always men with multiple women. If you have communities with both multi-men and multi-women marriages it's good to know. I'd hope that it would balance out, but I am not a sunshine-outlook type of girl. People try hard to live well, but we also have a tendency to do reallllllly stupid things.
Could you not disparage those of us whom are monogamous by choice though?
"Slut" is still a big insult for women."
As is "cunt". However "manwhore" and "dick" carries much less social penalties for men. Reducing a person to their sexuality or genitalia is somehow inexcusable for women and somewhat acceptable for men. I don't think scattered groups of - let's face it - man worshiping women, usually highly religious, would normalize the extremely uncomfortable topic of female sexuality.
At what point did I disparage anyone who was monogamous by choice? I insulted stupid remarks, but I never said anything about monogamy-by-choice one way or the other.
Not only are there communities with both men and women being free to choose their own partners, those communities number in the tens of thousands of people and have existed for several decades ... and the numbers are growing. This is not some insulated religious cult, these are regular people who have found non-monogamy the same way that people always have, for the entire history of humans, only a few decades ago someone put a name to it and a couple years later, someone built a listserve for it so we could find each other.
There is nothing in what I said that indicated or implied a lack of individual stupidity within the poly community - we are, after all, humans. But there simply is none of this treating-mates-as-resources bullshit because there is no mandate from on high that gives status to people for the number of mates they have, thereby reducing the other half of that relationship to property. "Mates are a resource" when you look at groups who treat them as resources. In groups who do not, such as the poly community, they are not.