The year 2013 was not a particularly good one for traditional marriage.
This institution that has endured for thousands of years is hanging on, even stubbornly so – marriage is presently considered by most Americans a union between one man and one woman – but if the tide does not soon turn, events that transpired in 2013 could be viewed in the future as the beginning of the end of marriage.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered two important decisions on same-sex "marriage." In both instances the High Court declined to define marriage, leaving that responsibility to the states, thereby allowing marriage to live on for another day.
These holdings didn't help marriage but they didn't destroy it either. Far more damaging than the rulings was the rhetoric (or put another way, the side commentary of the Court) implying that supporters of traditional marriage are driven by bigotry. That public condemnation, along with the ever-present media machine churning out propaganda on the issue, has seemingly had a profound impact, shifting and escalating momentum in favor of so-called "marriage equality."
Following the Supreme Court decisions, like sharks smelling blood in the water, ACLU, Lambda Legal, and like-minded colleagues, wasted little time in filing more lawsuits, challenging state Defense of Marriage laws and state constitutional amendments that characterize marriage in the historical way.
But, perhaps, a ruling that came out just a few weeks ago in Utah represents the most ominous sign for marriage in 2014 and beyond.
In a case involving the Browns, a polygamous family consisting of one husband and four wives made famous in the reality series Sister Wives on TLC, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoup struck down the most crucial sections of a statute prohibiting bigamy, which had made polygamous cohabitation a crime.
Polygamists like the Browns describe their relationships as "spiritual marriages," and don't seek recognition from the state, even though they live as if they were legally married. After Judge Waddoups' ruling on this statute, their polygamous relationships are now legal, at least in Utah.
The Browns' attorney, Jonathan Turley, celebrated the victory with a familiar refrain, praising the decision for achieving "true equality of its citizens, regardless of their personal faiths or practices."
Borrowing the term "equality" from proponents of same-sex "marriage" is no coincidence. The underlying principle and legal argument is precisely the same: the meaning of marriage should be based on whom we love, not what the state believes is the best setting for raising children.
The fears of those who stand for traditional marriage are being realized. For once the institution of marriage strays from its traditional moorings and meaning, it is subject to severe alteration, being redefined in any number of ways, only limited by the imagination of those who wish to partake in it.
On the heels of legalized polygamy, polyandrous marriages – where a woman takes on two or more husbands – will surely follow. After all, equality would demand it, and they too want to marry whom they love.
Another popular variation of marriage is a movement known as polyamory. Those are group marriages, sort of a state-sanctioned "love shack," where four men and two women, two men and seven women, or any other grouping of folks get married and all have sexual relations with each other.
Much like those who advocate for same-sex "marriage," those pushing for polyamorous marriages say their group activity is an inherent part of their sexuality. They also want to marry whom they love.
Marriage is sliding down the proverbial slippery slope, changing dramatically as it descends. If the decision in Utah is any indication, courts are becoming more and more willing to permit any form of sexual behavior between "consenting adults" and then go so far as to endorse that behavior by changing the definition of marriage to apply to those situations.
And yet, if marriage continues on this same trajectory, not even "consenting adults" will hold as bounds on people desiring to marry whom they love. Recently, signifying another banner moment for 2013, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto declared pedophilia (adults viewing children as sexual objects) is not a psychological disorder, but a sexual orientation, like heterosexuality and homosexuality.
How long will it take for legal advocacy groups representing pedophiles to stake claim to their rights, urging that these individuals only want to marry whom they love?