And now, reality.

In today’s Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer pens an interesting article in which he reiterates his decade-old prediction that polygamy will be the next big civil rights battle.

Forgetting the fact that he’s seemingly declared a premature victory for the proponents of same-sex marriage, Krauthammer’s article is academic. It’s hard to argue with his well-stated piece, although Andrew Sullivan did take a moment to respond. However, what he (and Sullivan) nearly leave out is anything but a minor mitigating factor: reality.

Krauthammer briefly bumps up against reality by noting:

“What is historically odd is that as gay marriage is gaining acceptance, the resistance to polygamy is much more powerful.”

It’s easy to argue – because it’s true – that being gay was once as unacceptable as polygamy is today; to argue that we’ll soon see polygamists join the battle for equality in any meaningful way, however, seems to strike a discordant melody. Why?

The civil rights battles of the 50s and 60s didn’t foster further animosity toward gays; those dots were far from connected – at least at the time. Arguably, it did start a steady – if somber – march toward a day when gay rights could be discussed as openly and productively as race-based civil rights.

Is that why there’s a gay recoil to this subject? Perhaps not.

Like it or not, Krauthammer might be right – but not because he’s a logical academic, or because he has his pulse on the nation. He might be right simply because disaffected groups will use the openings they’re presented with, and it’s very possible that polygamists will use gay marriage to move forward with their own agenda.

It’s also conceivable that gay rights activists are now viewing the polygamists on their coattails in much the same way that many African Americans view gays on theirs: they just don’t think it’s the same.

It’s still a safe bet that HRC shouldn’t worry yet that its upper-floor views might be blocked when the polygamists set up shop next door.

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