Acceptance of polygamy is at an all-time high, according to recent Gallup poll. The survey found 17 percent of Americans say the practice of having more than one spouse is “morally acceptable,” up from 14 percent a year ago and more than double the 7 percent who found it acceptable when Gallup started polling in 2003.
This despite the fact that polygamy is still illegal in all 50 states.Even though polygamy is practiced in some religious sects, Gallup found nonreligious people are much more accepting. Between 2011 and 2017, 32 percent of Americans who did not identify with a religion found the practice “morally acceptable.”
The recent upward trend follows a prediction of many social commentators: Polygamy is a nearing eventuality in a country with an expanding definition of marriage.
“Polygamy is bobbing forward in social liberalism’s wake,” wrote The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat two years ago. “The now-ascendant model of marriage as a gender-neutral and easily dissolved romantic contract offers no compelling grounds for limiting the number of people who might wish to marry.”
Legal scholars agree. Last month, a senior lecturer at Emory Law School published Legalizing Plural Marriages: The Next Frontier in Family Law. Mark Goldfeder begins the introduction to his book with this note: “This is the first book that explains not only why the legalization of plural marriage may be on the horizon in America but also why the idea is not really as radical as you might at first glance think; why the legal arguments against it are surprisingly weak; and how … it would not actually be that difficult to accommodate.”
The book’s forward is written by Alex Kozinski, a Reagan-appointed judge for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who agreed, “By adding up the pieces, Goldfeder shows that polygamy is neither farfetched nor far off.”