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Harem, Scare 'Em: Worrying About Polygamy

Naomi Schaefer Riley

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If marriage to a woman civilizes a man -- as some would have it -- it does not follow that the more women a man marries, the more civilized he becomes. It seems that the opposite is true. Still, the practice of polygamy is spreading world-wide, even in the U.S.

In September, Holland registered its first civil union among three partners. A grander menage trois has established itself in Belgium (with three wives and 30 children), though without the government's imprimatur so far. Some conservatives, like the Weekly Standard's Stanley Kurtz, decry these developments as another step down the road to gay marriage, since one redefintion of marriage may lead to another. Perhaps so. They are indisputably another step down the road to polygamy.

The idea, floated with ever greater frequency, is that polygamy is nothing objectionable; it is simply another option on our diverse menu of family types. A new HBO series called "Big Love," debuting in March, will center on a man married to three women. "It's everything that every family faces, just times three," co-creator Mark Olsen told Newsweek. "The yuck factor disappears and you just see human faces."

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Posted: 09-Jan-06



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