In a recent op ed piece in the Globe and Mail, Margaret Somerville, the distinguished ethics professor from McGill University, argues that if same- sex marriage is legal, there is no reason not to legalize polygamy.

She writes: « Gay marriage advocates successfully argued that the primary function of marriage is to publicly recognize two adults’ mutual love and commitment. But why shouldn’t three or more adults, just as much as two, have their love and commitment publicly recognized…? » She goes on to argue that if same sex marriage is allowed because not to do so would be to allow discrimination on the basis of sex, why should polygamy not be allowed on the basis not to do so would be discrimination on the basis of religion?

Somerville is opposed to both same sex marriage and polygamy because she contends that both prevent marriage from fulfilling its primary objective which is the procreative relationship between one man and one woman. The bottom line with Somerville is that both same sex- marriage and polygamy destroy the biological bond between parents and their children. (The fact that some parents cannot or don’t want to have children does not vitiate her position).

Somerville goes on to say: « Same-sex marriage opens up the possibility of polygamy because it detaches marriage from the biological reality of the basic procreative relationship between one man and one woman and that means there is no longer any inherent reason to limit it to two people whether of the same or opposite sex. Once that biological reality is removed … marriage can become whatever we choose to define it as. »

Do you support same-sex marriage?

Do you agree that if same-sex marriage is legal (as it is in Canada), there is no reason not to legalize polygamy.

Would you be in favour of Canada’s legalizing polygamy?



  1. 1
    jim Says:

    Margaret Somerville, is bringing up a topic wherein same sex marriage has absolutely nothing to do with polygamy. On the other hand Quebec had the best arrangement regarding two people joining together when they enacted laws which covered 3 areas. A) Opposite sex marriage B) Opposite sex union C) Same sex union. Along came Ottawa with their version and now any union is called marriage. That means that as a segment of the married population I am lumped in with the homosexuals.Re your question Neil regarding polygamy I guess the range of answers will be that some would like to have 365 partners others will say that they have learned their lesson and one is enough.Bye the bye Harper said, whilst sitting in opposition, that he would do away with SS mariages.jim

  2. 2

    Jim – I agree with your general thrust. I have always been in favour of same-sex couples in a civil union having the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples have in a common law union or a marriage. What I have never fully understood is why same-sex couples insist on calling their arrangement a marriage, a word restricted for thousands of years to a heterosexual union.

  3. 3
    jim Says:

    Depending on which jurisdiction one is in, there are over 1100 cocidiles to a marriage contract.To keep it simple, all the government has to do is pass a law that states whichever benefits apply to male/female marriages, will apply to same sex marriages. Otherwise a new law would have taken many many years which the homosexuals didn’t want to happen as they would have lost some of the benefits due to deaths etc.$$$$$$

  4. 4
    Cate McB Says:

    Do I support same-sex marriage?

    Yes, because I think that same-sex couples should have the same rights & benefits as married couples including the title « married couple ». Any other title gives the relationship a lesser status.

    Do I agree that if same-sex marriage is legal, there is no reason not to legalize polygamy?

    No, I don’t agree, and there’s a distinction between apples and oranges which Dr. Somerville is not getting. In the case of both heterosexual and same-sex marriages, what is being supported is a monogamous union between two people. Obviously, polygamy is a different kettle of fish as the pre-fix ‘poly’ implies. Now within a monogamous union, how the partners beget offspring is a different issue and for both heterosexual and same-sex partners, the biological bond can be broken by many circumstances (e.g., adoption) and I would be hard-pressed to say that those circumstances are obstacles that prevent either same-sex or heterosexual partners from achieving the objective of a procreative relationship. Again, what is being discriminated against (usually on religious grounds) in the case of polygamy is the non-monogamous status of the relationship.

  5. 5

    Cate – Recently an Ontario judge gave full status to each of a trio in bringing up a child (two lesbians and the heterosexual man who provided sperm for one of the lesbians). What would be wrong with providing full legal status to a heterosexual man and three heterosexual women in a polygamous relationship?

  6. 6
    Cate McB Says:


    I don’t know anything about the Ontario case you mention, so if you can provide more details, I’ll look it up and comment. On the face of it, are you saying that the Ontario judge declared the trio married?

  7. 7

    Cate – I don’t have any more details on the Ontario case. No, the judge did not declare them married but each had full legal rights to care for the child.

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