The institution of marriage is a universal phenomenon. It is a union, meant to afford spouses social recognition as a unit, security and stability. In most religions, marriage is also a spiritual undertaking, a holy contract.
I would define marriage thus:
* A union between consenting adults.
* A partnership where absolute equality is the natural and unshakable basis.
* A lifelong commitment.
* A mutual agreement of sexual, social and financial engagement and responsibility, between equal partners, built on the recognition of absolute equality and equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of all people.
* A spiritual pledge and unity, a pledge to keep and respect each other that goes beyond flesh and society and truly transforms people from individuals to part of an entity.
* A promise, sacred if you will, to keep and care for each other with all your heart.
From my definition, you can deduce that I am all for gay marriage. There is nothing to say that a same sex couple should be in any aspect less capable of such commitment than a traditional couple.
What about polygamy then? Well, as I see it polygamy is fine. Polygamy between consenting adults who recognize that my spouse has exactly the same right to multiple spouses that I have. In some nations you can actually choose if you want to enter a monogamous or a polygamous marriage by the use of different forms. That sounds like a good idea, as long as the form clearly states that by choosing the polygamous option you also recognize your spouses absolute and equal right to marry multiple partners.
In islam, as well as in the fundamental “christian” sects that practise polygyny, however there is no equality. In these cults, what they call marriage is simply a contract where a man buys (by way of mahr and/or the burden of maintaining the family) the right to receive sexual services and obedience from women. A nikah is simply a legal ritual to allow for prostitution of the worst kind. Prostitution where the woman must consent to sex at any time and serve and obey her husband in anything while recognizing his right to beat her if she disobeys or says no to intimacy, and his right to keep her as a slave in the house with no right to ever leave the house without his permission and no right to keep any children she bears him.
In islamic “marriage” there are no equal rights, no mutual partnership, no equal responsibility, no spiritual pledge to keep each other and care for each other in equal measure. She must promise to care only for him, dedicate her soul only to him, while he can say that he will only dedicate himself to her every monday and three out of four tuesdays.
There simply is no such thing as marriage in Islam.
There is a contract, nikah, that gives men the right to have sex with women and keep them as servants in the home, beat them and have children from them, in return for money until the man, by uttering a few words, discards the women so he can exchange them for someone new and exciting. This is no marriage.
So this clamour now for civilized nations to recognize islamic polygamous “marriages” is absurd, as is comparison with same sex marriages.
Same sex marriages are equal, sacred unions and true marriages.
Islamic Nikah is nothing of the kind.