Keysar Trad is an interesting fellow. He's mainly been in the news as an apologist for the controversial former (Sunni) Grand Mufti of Australia, Taj El Din al-Hilaly and currently occupies the president's position in the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia.
Trad was in the news recently after writing this article for Crikey where he discusses opening a dialogue to begin the long road towards polygamous marriages.
This blogger notes that Trad is on the record as having discussed such a union with his wife. Of course, the question that doesn't appear to have been posed by the media to date is about the extent of the conversation that took place.
After thinking about this, I have to conclude that Trad does have a point. What consenting married couples do is really not society's place to say. People should, if they want and if their existing and/or prospective spouse(s) consent, be able to have multiple spouses.
I can really only think of a few reasons as to why such unions shouldn't be permitted:
1. TaxationOur current tax laws cater, rightly or wrongly, towards singles and married couples, not married trios, quartets and other combinations. This is a potential minefield of confusion that needs to be sorted out before we can consider taxation of polygamous unions. But I don't think that it's insurmountable.
2. Social SecurityLikewise welfare laws are not really friendly towards polygamous unions. I think that this may be harder than taxation to sort out, but again, I don't think that this is beyond repair.
3. Estate planningIf memory serves me correctly, estate planning has nasty little bits in it where, for example, wills get rendered null and void by marriage, in most states and territories, anyway. This would be the same for remarriage as well, I suppose, but take this example: A wife has a will in place, but then the husband marries another woman. Does this render the first wife's will ineffective?
4. DivorceI think that this could be the messiest of the lot. Imagine that in our above example, the wife then divorces her husband. Does this mean that the second wife also has to divorce him? If not, then is the second wife divorcing the first wife? And after sorting this out, how do the property and child custody arrangements work?
5. SuperannuationThis has complications as well. I thought of family law splits and contribution splitting, but these seem a dodder compared to spouse superannuation offsets and what happens in the event of a member dying who just happens to be in a polygamous relationship.
Anyway, these are just a few of the issues that need to be thought of before polygamy can be allowed. I don't believe that these are the kinds of thing that we can't fix, but it should be pointed out that there would be a whole stack of work involved in them.
The easiest thing to do would be to abolish marriage outright, and just lock everything under the laws covering de facto relationships that exist in each state and territory, but this is probably not an option.
The absolute last reason that we should be considering is religious considerations for or against marriage, which have been discussed to death.
So the question that the media have not asked Trad regarding his wife's position is this: What was Trad's answer when his wife asked him if he was comfortable with her having multiple husbands?
It's difficult to take Trad seriously when you know that he is most certainly not comfortable. Or even that such a question might not have been posed by Mrs Trad. Does anyone know if Trad is on the record regarding this very question?