Is Polygamy Next?
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s dissent in Obergefell raised this very question, intending to show how radical the majority’s decision could become. But the issue was hard to discuss candidly while same-sex marriage was still pending, because both sides knew that association with plural marriage, a more unpopular cause, could have stymied progress for gay rights. (Opponents of same-sex marriage had reasons to emphasize the association, while supporters had reasons to play it down.) With same-sex marriage on the books, we can now ask whether polyamorous relationships should be next.You cannot live in a society filled with liars because you cannot debate liars. They must be shunned.
There is a very good argument that they should. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell did not focus primarily on the issue of sexual orientation. Instead, its main focus was on a “fundamental right to marry” — a right that he said could not be limited to rigid historical definitions or left to the legislative process. That right was about autonomy and fulfillment, about child rearing and the social order. By those lights, groups of adults who have profound polyamorous attachments and wish to build families and join the community have a strong claim to a right to marry.