Should Civil Marriage Be Opened Up to Multiple Parties?
Marriage , Law , Polygamy , Canada , United States , Monogamy
In this Essay, we argue that civil marriage should not be opened up to multiple parties. Our focus is on civil, not religious, marriage, and we address polygamy in general, rather than any particular form of it. We highlight the important distinction between opening up civil marriage to multiple parties on one hand and recognizing valid foreign polygamous marriages on the other. We contemplate how a country can coherently recognize valid foreign polygamous marriages, while at the same time decline to open up civil marriage to multiple parties. We distinguish decriminalization of polygamy, which we advocate, from opening up civil marriage to multiple parties. We then explain why we believe the rights of children should be a non-issue in deciding whether civil marriage should be opened up to multiple parties. We consider the state’s continuing interest in marriage in the context of changing social norms and legal developments and conclude that there is a compelling state interest in preserving and supporting civil marriage as a monogamous institution.