Opponents of same-sex marriage claim that straight marriages are somehow more stable than ours would be. Oh yeah? Granted, short-duration Hollywood marriages aren’t helping their cause, but then neither are serial monogamists, who have one wife or husband after another.
Now, I’m not going to morally censure these serial nuptials, and I suspect that religious social conservative opponents of same-sex marriage will probably point out the rarity of these multiple marriages and pontificate about divorce and how they’re trying to restrict it- just not very hard, that’s all. However, there’s no denying that these serial matrimonialists are inordinately fond of the institution, traipsing down the aisle time after time.
And to be fair, it isn’t only Hollywood denizens who are afflicted with matrimania. Remember Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) – In his case, there were dynastic reasons why he had that many spouses, involving the search for a male heir. Once Edward VI was finally born, that rationale switched to suitable maternal care for the prince and his female siblings, Mary I and Elizabeth I.
He wasn’t the only one, though. And he hasn’t had the most wives or husbands on record, either. That dubious distinction belongs to two American citizens- Linda Lou Taylor (b. 1940) and Glynn Wolfe. Linda has thus far had twenty three husbands, while her male counterpart, Glynn Wolfe (1908-1997) (a Baptist minister!!!) had twenty eight wives altogether. It will no doubt cheer feminist readers that polyandrous serial matrimony can be as doggedly pursued as its male counterpart, thanks to the modernisation of divorce legislation.
As for Henry VIII, his spousal total was surpassed by the late Elizabeth Taylor and her seven husbands, but the most notorious polyandrous serial matrimonialist in Hollywood has to be Zsa Zsa Gabor and her nine husbands. However, psychic David Marius Guardino (1942-2007) equalled that with nine wives. Former Western star Ty Hardin (b.1930) had eight wives, as did librettist Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986), although so did Count Paul Pálffy ab Erdöd (1890–1968) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. African-American jazz singer Dinah Washington (1924-1963) had eight husbands, as did actress Jennifer O’Neill. Seventeenth century Ottoman Albanian Grand Vizier’s daughter Alyse Sultan had seven, as did silent film actress Dorothy Dunbar (1902-1992), while Sir Gervase Clifton, 1st Baronet (1587-1666) had seven wives. So did Earl “Madman” Muntz (1914-1987), a noted American engineer. And I’m not even going to talk about our own President Jacob Zuma and his… (how many wives again?)
What do all of the above signify? It cannot solely be attributed to divorce law liberalisation, and one should note that while members of the Hollywood celebrity snakepit are included, so are other entertainers, male and female members of the aristocracy and surprisingly few royals. Nor can it be solely attributed to ‘promiscuity and infidelity” or alcohol and drug abuse, as detractors of the Hollywood lifestyle allege, nor modernity. At least easy contraception has enabled straight women to live longer lifespans and indulge themselves in rampant polyandry. And I should note that the above isn’t an exhaustive list, either.
Soooooo….. Our civil unions and same-sex marriages are unstable? The institution of marriage is Holy? Hello!! Get your own house in order before judging us.