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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Islam, Polygamy, and Gay Marriage

Here is a classic Steyn piece that combines these three subjects in some unexpected ways:

Quick excerpts:

The better advocates of gay marriage are an ingenious crowd, full of artful arguments to support their claim. Initially, most of us on the other side found it hard to believe a countervailing argument was necessary, and by the time it became clear that neither "Oh, come off it, you can't be serious" nor "Well, I dunno, it just don't sound right" were going to suffice, the gays were already on their way to victory in the only arenas that matter--the media and the courts.

But the activists' intellectual rigour only goes so far. If you suggest, as some defendants of "traditional marriage" do, that gay marriage is the slippery slope to polygamy and bestiality, the activists roll their eyes and go into "Oh, come off it, you can't be serious" mode. Like the chichi gay couple from New York who've built their dream home in rural Vermont, they don't want any other incomers muscling in. Gay marriage, they assure us, is the merest amendment to traditional marriage, and once we've done that we'll pull up the drawbridge.

But there's a very obvious constituency for polygamy, and it says something about the monumental self-absorption of the gay marriage crowd that they seem unaware of it. Indeed, it's already here. Earlier this summer, Le Monde leaked a government report revealing that polygamy was routinely practised in Muslim ghettos in France. Anecdotal evidence suggests things aren't so very different in the Islamic communities of Ontario: as The Christian Science Monitor airily put it, polygamous unions "are being performed by the same religious figures adjudicating matters under sharia"--i.e., under the province's Muslim-friendly Arbitration Act.


If the push for polygamy came from the white male elders of that breakaway Mormon sect in Bountiful, B.C., it'd be dead in the water: all you'd get from The Globe and the CBC and Maclean's would be a lot of stories about the abuse rumours, and shots of stern Old Testament patriarchs, and comments from various Grits and NDPers about how this is not compatible with "our Canadian values." If you're one of Bountiful's nubile nymphettes and you make it across the town line, you can write your own ticket on The National; they'll put you down for one of those major multi-part documentaries that takes up 52 minutes of the show for an entire week.

But, if it's not horny, stump-toothed white guys from the backwoods, what's the betting then? Once it gets all multicultural, the media back away from the in-depth investigations, happy to take the spokespersons for the relevant lobby groups at their word. If it's a Muslim who finally makes it to the Supreme Court of Canada with a polygamy case, I'd reckon their lordships will rule that forbidding it is an unwarranted restriction of charter rights. And I'd wager a few of those justices will be happy to license polygamy if only to prove that their demolition job on "traditional marriage" was legally grounded rather than mere modish solidarity.

Velly velly interesting... So what's the solution? If you're like me, and you want gay marriage to be legal, but you don't want polygamy to be legal, then the solution is to win gay marriage through the legislature, as opposed to through the judiciary. I think most of America is ready for civil unions, or would be if they were persuaded for a while, and I think that gay marriage is just a hop skip jump away from that. But if gay marriage is legalized through a backdoor end-around democracy, by judicial fiat, what's to stop polygamy from being next? Nothing.


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