After successful passage of legislation in some 17 states last fall defining marriage as being between a man and woman, much of the furor over the issues of same-sex marriage has died down. You’ll recall that these measures came as a direct result of and response to the ruling in Massachussetts Supreme Court and a certain rogue mayor in San Francisco (what was his name?) who ordered the issuance of marriage certificates to gay couples. One is a case of judicial activism (about which the column has written quite a bit–see Roe v. Wade) and the other executive activism–situations where they acted outside of lawful parameters as decided by democratically elected legislators–legislators whose job it is to write the laws. The only argument that could be made in favor of their position is that a sort of “tyranny of the majority”–the majority being those voters who passed, by referendum, amendments to their state constitutions defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. I don’t necessarily buy that argument–in part because no one seems to be arguing it from that angle–but I would be interested to read an intelligent opinion from that angle.
The following is further explanation of the riots in France from the perspective of polygamy–apparently a current practice in France among some people. I have been developing an idea about why the riots in France would not happen in the US–differences in society, market organization etc. and should have it posted in the next few days. Stay tuned.
Too Much ‘Pluralism’
“France’s employment minister on Tuesday fingered polygamy as one reason for the rioting in the country,” the Financial Times reports:
“GÃ©rard Larcher said multiple marriages among immigrants was one reason for the racial discrimination which ethnic minorities faced in the job market. Overly large polygamous families sometimes led to anti-social behaviour among youths who lacked a father figure, making employers wary of hiring ethnic minorities,” he explained.
Another problem with polygamy is that, by reducing the supply of available women, it makes it virtually impossible for low-status men to marry, and a large population of frustrated, undomesticated young men is a clear danger to society.
There’s a lesson here for the debate over same-sex marriage, too. Marriage, while far from a perfect institution, is crucially important to social stability. That’s why most sensible people, while adopting a live-and-let-live attitude toward homosexuality, draw the line at messing with the definition of marriage.