Pop singer Feist's 2007 hit single/iPod jingle was not in fact a cunning attempt to gauge how many sexual partners Americans consider to be morally acceptable. But it is a great song to start your Friday. So please excuse my digression.
Where Feist failed (...because she was just singing), YouGov has prevailed.
- 25 percent consider polyamory, which YouGov defines as the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all people involved, morally acceptable.
- 14 percent consider polygamy, the marriage of more than two partners, morally acceptable.
That polygamy number falls in line with data from a Gallup poll conducted in May, which showed that 16 percent of American adults consider polygamy to be “morally acceptable,” up steadily from just 7 percent in 2010.
In the new YouGov poll, 58 percent of adults who consider religion to be “not at all important” say polyamory is morally acceptable. Only 9 percent of people who consider religion very important say the same.
The share of religiously unaffiliated adults in America has skyrocketed in recent years, from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 percent in 2014. Drilling down into those demographics, more than one-third of Millennials cite no religious affiliation.
So if a majority of non-religious Americans think polyamory is fine, and more and more Americans are identifying as non-religious, I'm willing to bet that even more Americans will say polyamory is morally acceptable in future polling.
Why am I bringing this up? Ask SCOTUS.
When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June, dissenting Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia all pondered what implications the decision would have for polyamory and polygamy rights. The conservative Supremes were just playing devil’s advocate, but the questions they facetiously raised demand serious answers.
Estimates for the number of polyamorous relationships in the U.S range between 500,000 and 10 million, depending on how we define them. People in such relationships often face social stigmatization and discrimination in matters of employment, housing, child custody, and, of course, marriage.
Much of this discrimination is now legal. If public opinion continues to warm regarding polyamory and polygamy, legislators and courts are more likely to step in.
This Bloomberg chart shows just how fast states changed their minds on interracial marriage, women’s suffrage, abortion and same-sex marriage before the federal government intervened, making them legal nationwide.
Who’s to say that public opinion on polyamory and state rules permitting polygamy won’t follow the same trend in our lifetime?