Yesterday in New Hampshire, Santorum explained his opposition to same-sex marriage by equating it to polygamy:
Santorum retorted, “Are we saying that everyone should have the right to marry?”
When the audience member told him yes, he shot back, “So anyone can marry can marry anybody else, so, if that’s the case, then everyone can marry several people.”
I hear this a lot, and I always find it a bit perplexing. It seems to be arguing that, if we allow monogomous gay marriage (which is growing in societal acceptance), it opens the door to polygamy (which is opposed by a much wider margin).
But, it doesn't seem to me that gay marriage is the real slippery slope to polygamy. Instead, the slippery slope would be "everyone can marry several people," which is certainly legal and widely practiced by some heterosexuals. Newt Gingrich has married three women, John McCain, two, and Rush Limbaugh, the paragon of all values conservative, is on wife #4. Admittedly, they obey the legal nicety of abandoning their old wives before remarrying, but still, if a heterosexual person wants two, four, or ten spouses, our laws allow it, as long as it's sequential. Isn't the social acceptance of multiple sequential spouses far more likely to lead to polygamy than monogamous homosexual marriage?
Again, I think that people who worry that homosexuals might destroy the meaning of marriage are ignoring the reality that heterosexuals have already devalued it substantially on their own. Homosexual enthusiasm for the institution might be society's best hope of making it mean something again. I suspect that the first generation of legally wed gays will fight extra hard to make their marriages work, since they won't want to give gay marriage opponents the satisfaction of saying, "See, I told you this wouldn't work."