Polygamania: Family First Chases Phantom “Polygamists”

February 20, 2017 in General

Here we go again. Family First’s media releases are getting increasingly bizarre as New Zealand approaches our next general election in late September 2017. As I’ve argued previously, it is the case that there is no movement for the introduction of polygamous marriage into New Zealand law or society. That is, there are no legally constituted legislative reform lobby groups, no supportive law journal or Law Commission reports on the subject, no party policies conducive to the introduction of polygamy, and so on. Of course, the same isn’t true in the United States, where a disreptuable schismatic Mormonoid “Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints” has been present since mainstream Mormonism abandoned polygamy in 1890 so that the Utah Territory could join the United States. Tiny lobby groups, isolated law journal articles, pro-polygamy television programmes (like Big Love and Sister-Wives) and Utah-based pro-polygamy protest activity do not a social movement make.

Meanwhile, though, Bob McCoskrie is busy targeting the former “second wives” of former polygamist immigrants to New Zealand, who are not recognised as ‘plural spouses’ under New Zealand law and is arguing that they should not be receiving Domestic Purpose Benefits and other income support maintenance if there is any question about their current legal status. That is what the Family Proceedings Act 1980 has laid out and which has gone unexamined and uncommented upon by other conservative Christian New Zealand groups over the last three decades. Are they former wives, he asks. Well, yes. And if the objective of this polemic is to target Muslim polygamists, not all Muslim societies recognise polygamous relationships. So, how does he justify US Christian Right collaboration with antigay groups in polygamous African societies like Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania, for that matter?

McCoskrie’s latest jeremiad against same-sex monogamous marriage equality is a recently published University Press of New England book by Mark Feder, Legalising Plural Marriage: The Next Step in Family Law. Well, it hasn’t proven to be the next step insofar as Canada, the Netherlands and Scandinavia are concerned, and right now there’s a populist anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim backlash afoot in Western Europe, Australia and the United States which makes any prospective recognition of polygamous relationships hard to believe. We get handed a ridiculous statement that even straight marriages are ‘only’ meant for procreation (and not sexual pleasure between husband and wife?!) and that expressive individualism will ‘mean’ open slather. Uh huh. So where is the proof? Remember, no actual decriminalisation of polygamy has occurred in any western society where monogamous same-sex marriage equality is also legal, apart from South Africa, where polygamy is legal under customary law and under no other jurisdiction. Ah, Family First. Still chasing phantom ‘polygamists’ after all these years.


Mark Feder: Legalising Plural Marriage: The Next Step in Family Law University Press of New England: 2017.

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