Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May your new year be filled with love and happiness.

Thank you for all of your support and comments this past year.

Let's keep moving towards full marriage equality!
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Fear of Paperwork is No Excuse for Inequality

In the US, when someone asks why we don’t have the freedom under the law to polygamous marrage, one of the typical justifications for this denial of rights goes something like this…

It's a logistical issue. Imagine the paperwork involved if everyone was allowed to have multiple spouses. Just figuring out the health insurance would be a nightmare.

Figuring out health insurance would not be a nightmare. Any government health insurance can certainly be extended to all spouses, especially if it covers unmarried people anyway. With health insurance though an employer or directly with the insurance company, there has long been the issue of the number of children (and now, up through age 26) and how they are covered. Some people have no children, some have one or two, some have many more. This has not been a problem. Likewise, coverage terms can be set for any spouse that does not get insurance through another employer or does not otherwise have insurance.

For this and other paperwork issues, there wouldn’t need to be much extra paperwork at all. Once a form is created for a spouse's information, it is very easy have duplicates for additional spouses.

This is a rather weak reason to deny people this freedom to marry. Certainly, more paperwork is generated because of divorce by the population of supposedly monogamous couples than will be generated by people choosing to exercise the polygamous freedom to marry.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Solidarity From Will O’Bryan

Will O’Bryan, who is gay, wrote a great piece over the controversy surrounding the comparisons made to the David Epstein situation and same-sex relationships, expressing his solidarity with those of us who want consanguineous lovers to allowed their happiness. First, though, he expresses concerns about statements by the lawyer for David Esptein

Of course, the reasonable, conventional reflex from the gay community and its allies would be an utter repudiation of that rationale, with arguments, diagrams and psychoanalysis as to why incest and homosexuality are apples and oranges.

They are different categories of sexuality. There are some consanguineous same-sex couples, for example. But both categories fall under “consenting adults.”

He also see’s Saletan’s point

The portion of Saletan's argument that boils down to the gay taboo of same-sex lovin' being the only avenue available for gay people, while someone with an incestuous attraction could simply look elsewhere, has some merit.

What gives anyone the right to tell consenting adults they have to look elsewhere instead of to each other?

Thankfully, he goes on to express a high level of solidarity.

In the ways that we've strained to outdo our oppressors, which seems a common reaction among the oppressed, aiming to prove we can surpass whatever hurdles our oppressors place before us, we perhaps emulate them in ways that make me as uncomfortable as a God-fearing, GOProud, married gay parent with four children and a golden lab when the leather/BDSM float passes at the pride parade.

Those who have been told to stand at the back of the bus should not be so quick to throw others under it. Instead, we should all join together and insist that we all should have equal access to sit in the bus.

I will grant that incest and homosexuality are not the same things, particularly when it comes to a parent and child. But I may also feel uncomfortable when I see an employer bedding an employee or a teacher fooling around with a pupil. But I'm not going to feel threatened if someone equates the two for the sake of legal argument. Why should I feel uncomfortable?

Thank you.

The human norm evolved so that we have two sexes, each sexually attracted to the opposite, leading to reproduction. That norm has often been enshrined into law. But I don't want to submit to such laws because I am gay. If I was one of those kinky Bel Ami ''twincest'' twins, Milo and Elijah Peters, considering my brother my boyfriend, I might also resent the laws against incest. I can promise, however, my straight brother and I will never be getting it on. That does not, however, put me in any position to support a law telling Milo and Elijah they can't do their (highly lucrative) thing.

Thanks again.

So I just can't get that worked up about two grown people having an incestuous relationship. Even in the case of the Epsteins where a line has been crossed between parent and child and there may be psychological fallout for years to come for the latter, she was an adult when this began.

Don’t we all know people, perhaps ourselves, who have been emotionally scarred from nonconsanguineous relationships with people roughly the same age? Infatuation or love always brings such potential. Relationships can end up hurting, but they can also bring much happiness. Either way, as long as the participants consented, the law should not be against it. O’Bryan eloquently gives one reason why…

And for those who do care, who demand laws to prevent this sort of thing, who are you kidding? I don't really know how such laws might affect the incestuous, but I can tell you that attempts to ban homosexuality did little more than ruin lives – of the persecuted, of those forced into unhappy marriages, and sometimes the children of those marriages. They did not help society. And with or without such laws, the number of gay people remains the same.

Yes. It seems that the greatest harms caused by these relationships are, ironically, caused by the fact that others try to interfere in them with laws, violence, harassment, and insults.

I've been told my sexual expression is disgusting, though that was far truer 20 or 30 years ago. Now that I can get married and join the Army, I could wrap myself in propriety and call others disgusting. Because of my experience, having to consider and dissect and wear my sexuality for decades, rather than simply take it for granted, I cannot. Instead, I grant that if two – or 10 – adults consent to sexual activity, it's really none of my business. If the thought of it makes me feel foul, I will think about something else.

Brilliant. Amazingly brilliant. Thank you, Will O’Bryan.
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Polygyny in Israel

There's a battle in Israel over polygyny in some of the Muslim population. There are groups actively trying to end the practice.

Since polygamous marriages aren't recognized by the government, no official statistics exist. But the Research and Information Center of Israel's Knesset, or parliament, estimates that somewhere between 20 percent and 36 percent of bedouin households in the southern Negev region, where most of bedouin live, are polygamous.

Whatever the percentage, it is clearly not a rare practice.

Primarily a media campaign using posters with women's testimonials, the "No Excuse for Polygamy" initiative also holds meetings and seminars aimed at educating single women about the price of polygamy.

I have no problem with someone explaining to anyone else willing to listen why they would not want to participate in a polygynous marriage. But adults should be able to freely choose their own marriages, and that includes a woman choosing to be one of two, three, or four wives to one husband.

With an annual growth rate of 5.5 percent, Israeli bedouins are one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

Many polygamous populations are growing faster than the general population. That is going to mean more popular support for the right to polygamous marriage.

"Women are the greatest beneficiaries of polygamy," Abu-Da'abes told the Israeli-Arab weekly Kul Al-Arab.

Abu-Da'abes, while a supporter of the right to polygynous marriage, is no supporter of full marriage equality…

For that reason, Abu-Da'abes criticized Arab men who take foreign women in addition to their Arab wives, saying he would like to issue an Islamic legal opinion, known as a fatwa, against mixed marriages.

Any adult should be allowed to marry any other consenting adult(s).

Yazbak dismissed Abu-Da'abes' argument, saying polygamy causes poverty and dissolves the family structure.

I would like to see a comparison of divorce rates and other indcators of “dissolving the family structure” between this bedouin population and the professing monogamists in that country. I suspect the bedouins have a stronger family dynamic.

Again, I would like to point out that I support full marriage equality, and as part of that, gender equality. Both men and women have to be truly free to make their own choices about getting married and, if need be, getting divorced. I support the right to polyandry as much as I support th right to polygyny.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nonmonogamy on Yahoo Answers

There were a couple of discussions I noticed on Yahoo Answers relating to nonmonogamy.

Celes asked

If I wanted to have a polygamous marriage, should I have it with bisexual men?

Depends on how much fun she wants it to be! Seriously, if a woman wants a polyandrous situation, she has to ask herself if she’d prefer that sexual encounters or bed-sharing would be stricltly one-on-one or at least sometimes as a “threesome.” Would the want the social structure of the relationship to be a triangle or a “V,” assuming she would only need two husbands.

Since I KNOW there isn't a straight man on earth who would be comfortable sharing a bed with me and several other men let alone sharing just little old ME.

Actually, there are men who identify as straight who would be comfortable. I don’t think a majority of straight men would, but there are some.

Bisexual guys seems like the best option, doesn't it?

That is up to personal needs.

The husband I have now (and forever, despite what some of you might think, I really do LOVE him) is interested in 'experimenting' but is too afraid to go through with it.

She updated her question to indicate that her husband is most definitely straight, in response to someone asking her why she married a gay man.

Her own words: interested in 'experimenting'. That isn’t quite a desire for polyandry, although it could lead to that. It soulds like her husband is interested in at least seeing another man or other men with his wife. That could be done in any number of contexts, ranging from picking up someone in a bar to an ongoing polyamorous relationship.

BTW, for ya'll who find it so 'disgusting'....good news! I never asked any of you join in on the party, so nyyyyahh!!! :P

She told them! There were a few allies.

Tam Writer…

Um... sure, why not?? I mean, that way, you can all enjoy each other.... :S.... XD

Creation Crusher 5000…

Do whatever you want. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.

*ajidamoon* the Eh team…

In my polyandrous marriage, I do not plan on having group sex, but rather a different man for every night of the week. Its not fair that women peak near twenty years after I feel I need several men for compensation and to be able to keep up with me. Thus negating the need to only marry bi-sexual males. Of course, I might throw a few more wives in for variety as well.

Come on up to Canada....polygamy/polyandry will be legal by 11's end.

May it be so!


All I have to say on this subject is thank God for penicillin, to be fair to this weired Polyandryist he has not included farm animals in his experiment (give it time now I have planted the seed, in a manner of speaking).

Is David unaware that if a group of people who have no communicable disease have sex, none of them will get a communicable disease as a result?


Why don't you just be a prostitute. You get paid that way.

What kind of an answer is that? A bigoted one.

C V…

It is possible for polygamous marriages to be strong and successful, but I don't think we have the right mentality for it in modern society.

I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to having the right mentality. Much of that is because of gender equality.

Scarlet MacBlu…

While some bisexuals can be polyamorous (just as some straight or homosexual people) not all bisexuals are interested in sharing or being shared. The assumption you also seem to be making here is that your lovers/husbands would be actually interested in each other... there is no gurentee of that.

This is all true. That is why everyone needs to be on the same page.

And now for one of the answers that received low ratings, thankfully. That gives me hope.


sorry but that's disgusting

I’m sure there are things Pontiff does that some people find disgusting. For example, I find bigotry disgusting.

Experiencing something like this is one thing but to actually want to live such a life means you have no morales whatsoever.

How would Pontiff know if she has no Morales? She may be thinking of including Morales as the secondary.

On to the second question.

Gum drop…

Are you for or against polygamy?

Sherif Fahmy…

Against. It is inherently misogynist.

I assume that person is thinking only of polygyny, but I think the person is confusing some of the other practices of some societies with the freedom to polygyny. With gender equality and the freedom to divorce, polygyny is entirely voluntary for all involved.

Carl L…

Neither as long as all involved consent to such a relationship, but personally I wouldn't be interested in it.

Thanks, ally! So many of the other answers were typical anti-equality bigotry and myths.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Polyamory Allies on Yahoo Answers

The question was “Do you support polyamorous marriage?” The person asking does. So do many of the people answering.

No Magpie Without Chance…

As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult and my taxes are not subsidizing it, it's none of my business.


I honestly could care less about it. If people wanna get freaky that way, sure why not.


I personally feel that marriage is OK for anyone who takes it seriously.

Eye Of Night…

I couldn't care less, really.
If people manage to earn the right to marry multiple partners, well, more power to them, but I'm busy enough minding my own business to fight to the benefit of others.

Marisa Kirisame…

I personally don't like it. But various religions like Christianity support it, so why not? Go ahead if it floats your boat.


The US is a little behind on this issue. Gay marriage is already legal in Canada an the issue of multi-partner marriage (polyamory - with its various forms [polygamy, polyandry, etc.] is headed for Canada's highest court for a decision. Monogamous marriages is a cultural minority world wide. So... Yes, and I think there is plenty of evidence that it can work, but no better or worse than monogamous marriages.

It is always nice to see diverse support for this freedom to marry. You don’t have to want a polyamorous relationship yourself to support the rights of others.
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Clearcutting in the Rainforest has decided that, at least in some cases, fictional stories with consensual adult sex had to be pulled from their vitual shelves.

Self-published author Selena Kitt was first notified that the print version of one of her fiction books violated Amazon's content guidelines last week, followed by the unceremonious removal of two more offerings from the Kindle store. After noticing that the three books that Amazon singled out were all "erotic incest fantasy fiction," she found at least three other authors whose incest-themed erotica had been removed from Amazon, followed by a Kindle support thread full of even more names.

Kitt compares incest to murder, pointing out that she doesn’t “condone or support actual incest, just as someone who writes mysteries about serial killers wouldn't condone killing.” I understand Kitt’s point, but the comparison is a bit lacking. Those who want to justify banning the sale of such fiction will note that most mystery writers write in such a way as to condemn lawbreakers and depict murder as a horrible thing, while Kitt’s works appear to be written to as to assist sexual arousal by depicting illegal sex in a positive or neutral tone for those interested in that kind of (in many places) illegal sex. Those like me, who support the rights of all adults to love, sex, and marriage, do not appreciate the comparison of loving or playful sex between adults to murder. I can hardly blame Kitt, though. She was put in a difficult position that threatens her income and coming up with the best comparison was probably not a top priority. She shoud not have been put into that position in the first place.

I support and other sellers in taking actions to protect the innocent, such as children, from harm. But I urge them not to pull material about consensual adult sex from their shelves, virtual or otherwise.
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A Basic Freedom

William Saletan had more to say over at This was prompted by the beautiful death of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The distinction between marriage and partnership isn't the only institution being challenged. Technically, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Manual for Courts-Martial prohibit sodomy, bigamy, adultery, "wrongful" cohabitation, and incest.

I fail to see why a government employer such as the military should be able to tell an employee how to conduct their love lives. Rape, assault, molestation of minors should all remain illegal. But it should not the the employer’s concern if a soldier loves more than one other consenting adult, or if those adults are male, female, or have a close relation to the soldier. There shouldn’t be laws against such relationships inside or outside of the military.

Sodomy and adultery laws do seem outdated and silly. But if those laws are repealed on the grounds that consensual sex is private, it's hard to explain why the reform shouldn't extend to other laws.

It is hard to explain because those who try to explain it contradict themselves or invoke bigotry, but try not to admit it.

After quoting me, he goes on to write…

Laugh or snort if you want to, but it's a serious question. If DADT repealers are correct that sex is a matter of personal liberty and it doesn't matter "who you love," why shouldn't that defense cover polyamory and sibling couples?

There isn’t a good reason, so it should cover them.

You can argue that homosexuality is quite different. But to make that case, you have to go beyond privacy and consent. You have to draw moral distinctions.

Homosexuality isn't just a matter of who you love. It's a matter of who you are. And it's compatible with traditional sexual values.

First of all, why should an employer care whether or not something is compatible with “tradional sexual values?” Secondly, there is a long, ongoing tradition of polyamory, polygamy, and consensual consanguineous relationships.

You don't choose to be gay. You just are gay.

At least some people who are polyamorous (some of whom are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, by the way) didn’t choose to be polyamorous either. Polyamory is as natural to them as being straight or being gay. Some people in consanguineous relationships (again, they may be lesbian, gay, or straight) swear on their life (literally, given what they have to go through) that nothing else compares. While these two categories are not currently recognized mainstream as categories of sexual orientation, they are as much of what makes these people and their relationships who and what they are as gender.

A gay person can be just as faithful and monogamous as a straight person.

Why is monogamy important? It is assumed by the writer that it is, without an explanation being given. Right now, a soldier can have a series of ten short sexual relationships. Why is that any better than the solider having three wives and only having sex with those three wives?

If the fall of DADT is ultimately interpreted this way - as a rethinking of homosexuality, not of sexual morals generally - it won't satisfy libertines or libertarians. But culturally, it might prove easier to digest.

I give the culture more credit than that. More people are open to equality than a lot of people think. Let our soldiers, and the rest of the people, make their own decisions about who they will love, and don’t make them second-class citizens because of it.

Of course “straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual” is a different set of categories from “celibate, monogamous, polyamorous, etc.” and “exogamous, endogamous, and consanguineous.” but the military shouldn’t be concerned about any of those categories. Someone can be gay, celibate, and have endogamous attractions. Or, someone can be straight, polyamorous, and exogamous. What matters is how they do their job. Freely choosing the person or person(s) they love should be their basic freedom.
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Some People Actually Enjoy Sex

In his blog entry and subsequent comments, C.J. appears to claim that legal adults aren’t really adults until age 30, so they can’t possibly consent to sex with a parent before then. What’s more is that sex is a bad thing most of the time, apparently.

Epstein's daughter no more "consented" to her father's attentions than a child "consents" to his soccer coach's attentions. One of the most difficult aspects of post-molestation therapy is helping the survivor overcome his or her guilt. Children--and make no mistake, teenagers are still children--are relatively easy to coerce.

We hold adults responsible for their actions, whether they are 18, 21, or 35.

Likewise, incest is a crime perpetrated on the individual, that damages the individual.

I wonder if people who use these arguments can only enjoy sex if they are the same age or older than their sex partner? Their arguments seem to be based on an assumption that the adult child is getting no enjoyment or benefit out of the relationship, or that if they think they are, that adult child must have some form of reduced capacity.

Carla asked in the comments…

What is your opinion of sibling incest then? I wasn't necessarily thinking of the legality; I was curious about your personal moral opinion of it. You mention that there's a problem with it - what is that?

C. J. replied…

My personal moral problem with it is that it represents a betrayal of trust.

Again, I get the impression that these people think sex is generally abusive and about betraying other people.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

More Polyamory Can Make the World Better continues to feature adapted content from Polyamory in the 21st Century by Deborah Anapol, Ph.D. In this entry, we find “The Upside of Polyamory.”

Polyamorous relationships offer many means of accelerating personal growth. All intimate relationships at their best are a path to higher consciousness and greater self-knowledge, largely because of the valuable feedback-or mirroring effect-one receives from a beloved. Having more than one partner at a time not only increases the available quantity of feedback but also makes it harder to blame your partner for the problems you might be creating in the relationship

But what about the children, if there are any?

One of the most common concerns about polyamory is that it's harmful to children, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Multiple-adult families and committed intimate networks have the potential of providing dependent children with additional nurturing adults who can meet their material, intellectual, and emotional needs. While parents may end up focusing less attention on their children, children may gain new aunts, uncles, and adopted parents.

More adults sharing parenting can mean less stress and less burnout without losing any of the rewards. In a larger group of men and women, it's more likely that one or two adults will be willing and able to stay home and care for the family or that each could be available one or two days a week. If one parent dies or becomes disabled, other family members can fill the gap. It's possible for children to have more role models, more playmates, and more love in a group environment.

It can also be good for the environment…

Polyamory can mean a higher standard of living while consuming fewer resources. Sexualoving partners are more likely than friends or neighbors to feel comfortable sharing housing, transportation, appliances, and other resources. Even if partners don't live communally, they frequently share meals, help each other with household repairs and projects, and vacation together. This kind of cooperation helps provide a higher quality of life while reducing individual consumption as well as keeping people too busy to overconsume.

Read the whole thing. Or go buy the book. We should not be discouraging responsible polyamory.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May you have a fabulous holiday full of warmth and love.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nevada Man Charged With Incest

Here’s an example of a news item with too little information provided.

A 66-year-old Pahrump man is charged with lewdness and incest in a case involving a female relative, Nye County authorities said on Wednesday.

The article does not say the relative is a minor. The article does not say that he forced himself on his female relative. We have seen cases in which participants were both adults and consenting and somehow, information gets to law enforcement and the laws against such consensual sex are used against the participants. Is that happening here? We don’t know. There is a huge difference between someone molesting or raping a minor or assaulting or raping an adult... and consensual sex between adults. Which happened here? We don’t know.

Robin Gardner is being held on $50,000 bail.

Police said the crimes Gardner is accused of date back to June of this year.

If this isn’t a case consensual sex between adults, then throw the book at him. If it is a case of consensual sex between adults, this shouldn’t be a criminal issue.

What could the “lewdness” have been?
— — —

Someone Else Tries to Firmly Grasp Straw

This writer makes it clear she’s against the rights of consanguineous lovers to love, sex, and marriage.

Incest makes me queasy. It’s gross, disgusting, revolting, vile, and so Freudian. But what if Freud was right? What if we really do want to have sex with our parents?

She goes on to make an argument that, given this start, makes it sound like the only reason she hasn’t had sex with her father is the law, and that's why laws must deny this freedom.

Incest is something that some people are talking more openly about enjoying…Clearly incest is coming out of the closet, so much so that Swiss legislators are calling for the decriminalization of consensual incest and such relationships are already legal in the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Israel and China.

But here’s where the limits of the liberal subject are felt. Because although consent is always problematic (do we really consent to work or are we obliged to do so?), it is even more problematic in conditions of extreme power imbalances.

Consent is always problematic? Wow, I wonder if this woman is married. Even if she is, is really married by choice? Did she really consent to be married, or was she powerless to say no because of the shiny diamond offered for her finger, or the power imbalance between her and her spouse? If consent is always problematic and that is reason to use the force of law to prevent or punish certain relationships, how can any contract stand up on a court of law? If consent is always problematic, then all sex, to one degree or another, is rape, right?

But let’s just say that the power balance between a father and daughter is not skewed—let’s just say the daughter is the one who is fabulously wealthy and famous and powerful and the father is a nobody and they have a consensual affair. Does that then make it OK?

Whether she thinks it is OK or not, it shouldn’t be illegal and they shouldn’t be denied the freedom to marry.

I’m going to say no: not just because it makes me ill to think about or because I think the community should regulate the morality of adults, but because I believe such relationships are like second-hand smoke. They threaten the health of all of us by infecting familial relations with the possibility of sexual relations.

Ah, I see. If her friend’s father his enjoying sex with her friend, then she’s going to feel pressured to have sex with her father, is that it? Really? Has she engaged in a same-sex relationship because anti-gay laws have been overturned and there are happy lesbian relationships and lesbians out of the closet? Or has she engaged in a heterosexual relationship only because it is legal? People are attracted to others for their own reasons. People consent to sex with others for their own reasons. That something isn’t a crime doesn’t mean you must do it.

If incest comes out of the closet and is accepted as just an alternative lifestyle between consenting adults, then all parent/child relationships are eroticized, at least potentially, since your father may just be your next lover.

Then we can’t let heterosexual men and women work together, and of course all of our relationships with friends of the same-sex have been eroticized because of LGBT rights. All relationsips that straights have with non-related people of the opposite sex are eroticized, right? Especially between different generations?

These objections can be reduced to “I don’t like it. I wouldn’t do it. So nobody else could possibly truly want to do it. So they shouldn’t be allowed.” Don’t want a consanguineous sexual relationship? Don’t have one. There are some places where they are legal, and family and society has not ended in those places.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Musings Prompted by David Epstein Case

Doug Mataconis takes a look at the legal issues raised by the David Epstein case, especially in light of Lawrence vs. Texas.

What it does mean, however, is that just because we don’t like something doesn’t mean it should be illegal, and that I cannot think of any good reason why Professor David Epstein should go to jail.

Thank you.

A psychoanalyst writes

There is almost no way to construct a rational, legally based morality that forbids incest between adults. Most of us have a visceral reaction of disgust when we think about incest because the taboos are so deeply ingrained but the incest taboo can not be supported by rational argument alone.

But the writer tries to come up with a reason that consanguineous sex is wrong for everyone…

In parent-child incest the difference between generations is denied and the significance of the primal ties between parent and child are denied.

The difference between generations is denied? No more so that any other intergenerational sex between adults. Those relationships are not illegal and are widely accepted, and so this can’t be a reason to have laws against consanguineous sex.

Parents and adult children are not legally obligated to have any ties. Ever hear of estrangement? Disinheritance? Also, I don’t think most people in these relationships deny their “primal ties.” Most are very aware of such ties.

Objections like these don’t even deal with the fact that laws are written in such a way that siblings, uncles/aunts and nephews/nieces can also be prosecuted for consensual sex.

What exactly is the offending behavior? What if a woman who was adopted as a newborn finds her birth father and pursues a relationship with him? It is okay for them to kiss each other on the cheek? The lips? It is okay for one to massage the other and touch every part of the other’s body except the genitals? Is it okay for them to live together and take care of each other? What exactly is wrong and should be illegal, and why? Those who want to deny others their rights to love, sex, and marriage don’t seem to give details, but they should have to justify and clarify why, exactly, they want to prevent other people from doing what they want to do with each other. They often cite “inbreeding,” but that is only possible with heterosexual intercourse and carrying a fetus to term. What about consanguineous same-sex relationships? Birth control? All of the other kinds of sex that aren’t intercourse? Are those wrong and justly outlawed just because the lovers are related?
— — —

Still Waiting For A Good Reason to Deny Marriage Equality

This guy tries to explain why only some adults should have the freedom to marry the person they love.

Essentially, I believe that whatever involves just consenting adults, and does not do violence to others or society as a whole, should be tolerated. And, when it involves the notion of legal equality, it should be accepted.

Sounds great.

Gay marriage: Sure. Fine. Whatever. "I think it's gross" is NOT sufficient legal justification for banning it.

Thanks for supporting this freedom to marry.

Incest: No, no, a thousand times no.

Why not? He struggles to justify his opposition to this freedom to marry.

In some cases, it involves minors -- so there goes the "consenting adults."

By starting out with this, he’s trying to equate fun, romance, and love between consenting adults with child abuse. It’s like making a case against adults working for a living because of child-slave labor. I, like most people who want marriage equality, condemn child abuse.

In others, it raises the likelihood of inbreeding -- so there goes the "harm to others."

We’ve dealt with this one so many times before. There is no law against people having children despite and increased risk that the child will inherit a disease or birth defect, so unless you want to deny reproductive rights and force everyone to take genetic tests and bar carriers and the congenitally disabled and women over 35 from having children, then equal protection prevents this from being a justification to bar this freedom of association and freedom to marry. Still, most children born to consanguineous parents are fine. Furthermore, there are people marry who have no intention of reproducing, and most sex does not result in a live birth, nor is it intended to. So give this one a rest.

In some, involving parents, squicky issues of power and authority and inequality are raised.

This objection also fails. Next?

But even in those cases where those pitfalls are avoided, the introduction of the sexual dynamic entirely within the family structure causes violence to society as a whole.

What does this mean, and where is the proof? One might as well say that it kills ancient redwood trees. Spell out the harm. The sexual dynamic often brings people closes together. If you’ve found otherwise, maybe you’re doing it wrong.

Bigamy: Too many legal nightmares.

That’s what the bigots said about same-sex marriage and the Americans With Disabilities Act and just about any civil rights laws. Of course it is easier for those who already have what they want to keep things as they are. But what about all of the people who are denied their rights?

Let's take the case of Adam, Eve, and Eden. Adam marries Eve, and then the two marry Eden. Then Adam wants out. What does that mean to the legal relationship between Eve and Eden? Are they still married, even if they don't want to be? Are they divorced from each other, even if they don't want to be?

Use some thinking. It is very simple. If Adam leaves, Eve and Eden have the option of either continuing in a reformed marriage or entirely dissolving the marriage. It’s called freedom of association. When one person leaves a polygamous marriage, the others can too. Or, they can stay. It is their choice, not anyone else's concern.

And what about children?

What about children from one night stands, donated sperm, surrogate mothers, affairs, brief flings, or supposedly monogamous marriage that's ending? What about children born to a woman whose husband wasn’t the man who impregnated her? All of these situations are entirely legal. A court decides custody disputes that aren’t resolved amicably.

Marriage is a straight line (pardon the expression), defined by two points.

In his limited imagination. Others are living in marriages that are different.

It can be made and broken relatively simply (geometrically speaking). Introducing more points, making it into triangles, squares (with corners also connected), and whatnot just gets messy. No just say no to bigamy.

Got that? You can’t have your freedom to marry because someone else finds it “messy.” I mean really, why does one person care if someone else’s relationship is more complicated than he would like for himself? Don't want a poly marriage? Don't have one.

It’s past time to stop this. Just let people marry the person(s) they want to marry. Stop persecuting and prosecuting people for the sex they have with other consenting adults.
— — —

The Kids Are Alright

The Las Vegas Sun had a column from high school student Jordan Orris, reporting on the 54th annual Sun Youth Forum. It was held on November 23 with about 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participating.

She says…

With regard to the role of marriage in contemporary America, two questions were posed: (1) Should polygamy be made legal? (2) Should gay couples be allowed to adopt children?

It is good that it wasn’t questioned if same-sex marriage should be legal. The students appear to assume it should be and will be legal nationwide.

We examined the benefits of marriage under the status quo, including emotional, spiritual, physical, cultural and financial incentives.

Interestingly, there were quite a few yeas for polygamy, whose arguments included that polygamy is an institution of Muslim society and should be legalized for religious rights purposes, and the catch-22 of prosecution for cheating in a relationship being no different from prosecution for marrying many.

Actually, cheating has been almost entirely decriminalized. Most, if not all, of the few cases in which cheating makes it to court and is relevant to a case is in civil court. Marrying more than one person when all involved consent is a far different thing than cheating, even if the marriage isn’t legally recognized. And such marriages should be legally recognized, not only for religious freedom but as a basic human right. It does not make sense that in some places in this country, someone can get into legal trouble for ceremonially marrying more than one person and caring for that person as a spouse, but has no risk of legal trouble for cheating with a series of affairs or one night stands. Polygamy should not be a crime. Why discourage anyone from loving and caring for another consenting adult?

Those in disagreement argued the legal entanglements caused by situations of divorce, child custody and child support.

I don’t see how it would be much different than with supposedly monogamous marriages. You know, requiring accommodations for the disabled meant far many more changes than it would take to accommodate this freedom to marry, and yet that was voted into law twenty years ago.

The dissenters also argued that polygamy was not relevant in America.

Of course it is relevant. There are American citizens who want this freedom to marry.

Others simply stated that the government should not intrude on the lives of people or their marriages.

Support full marriage equality and let the people decide for themselves. The younger generations are supportive, so it is only a matter of time before hate no longer has enough power to deny marriage equality.
— — —

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

No matter what meaning, if any, someone personally holds in Christmas, it is usually a time to get together with friends and family.

It can be a painful time for those who have been rejected by their family because of their sexual orientation or choice in patner(s). LGBT people, poly people, and those in consanguineous, intergenerational, or interracial relationships may be reminded this time of year that even their own family hates them.

Some people make the best of this and get together with others who do not condemn them for being themselves, trying to ignore the hurt inflicted by some of their own family.

I have words for anyone who has driven away or banned someone in their family because of that other family member’s orientation or partner(s): Shame on you. You don’t have to like your family member’s sexuality or how they live. But you should reach out to them and support them instead of driving them away. Every person in your family does things you don’t like. Why single out a family member for punishment because of who they love? If your family member has a partner whose family is more accepting, guess who is going to win? Guess who is going to get to play with the grandkids/nieces/nephews? Not you.

If you can’t go “home” for Christmas, and you are feeling down and you haven’t managed to make plans with friends, consider doing so. Chances are, you know some other people who either can’t go home or would rather spend Christmas with you.

Things are looking up for the New Year. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is going to be the kind of history we look back on like segregation, thankful that it was done away with. The same-sex freedom to marry will likely advance in the US federal courts. The polygamous freedom to marry may advance in the Canadian courts.

So let’s look forward to the New Year and keep moving towards Full Marriage Equality!
— — —

Monday, December 20, 2010

Page Added

I've added a page for clarity on my condemnation of sexual assault, coercion, and child abuse, since those things often get unjustly lumped in with certain consensual relationships involving adults.

I have also updated the blog template to make it easier to share the information presented here.

As always, thanks for spreading the word and I welcome your comments and suggestions. If there is a link I should know about, please tell me. If you want to share your story, you can write to me or I can interview you through email.
— — —

Todd Pettigrew is an Ally

Writing about the David Epstein case, he debunks William Saletan’s arguments supporting laws against consanguineous sex.

In any case, as one committed to reason, I have to look beyond whatever ick factor there is and ask what the rational argument would be against incest. In short, if Professor Epstein and his daughter want to get it on, who are we to say no? Even if it’s distasteful, does that make it immoral? And should it really be a felony?

Of course it shouldn’t. They are consenting adults.

But even if reproduction were a factor, we generally do not insist that people have a moral obligation to find mates that are genetically optimum or even genetically desirable. For instance, parents with Huntington’s disease have a very high chance of passing the illness on to their children. Does that mean that a person with Huntington’s has a moral obligation to abstain from sex? Would a married couple be immoral if they chose to have kids knowing that the kids are at a high risk for the disease? Would we send such parents to jail?

It is interesting how cases like this one bring out the part-time eugenicists.

As for Professor Epstein, I don’t know him or his daughter or the course of events that led to their supposed sexual union. The whole affair is probably more complex than media reports indicate — how could it not be? But assuming that no one was forced or otherwise mistreated (which would constitute crimes in other ways), I can’t, at least for the moment, find a rational way to condemn them.

There is no reason, other than “tradition” and bigotry, that there should be a law against consenting adults having sex, or getting married. All of the “reasons” fall apart under scrutiny and precedents. Be on the right side of history and support the right of consenting adults to love, sex, and marriage.
— — —

Bigotry Expressed

Elie Mystal is upset at David Epstein’s lawyer Matthew Galluzzo.

Coercion is inherent in every case of parent/child incest. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

It is clear for the context that she is talking about adults. How can she make such an assertion? There’s no way she knows the dynamics of every single relationship. She is like the racist who says that every interracial relationship is about rebelling against parents, or the rare lesbian who says that all male-female sex is rape. It is insulting. It is telling that throughout her editorial, which is a lot of bluster but little substance, she writes about father-daughter relationships. Not a word about mother-son, mother-daughter, or father-son. I wonder why? Nor does she address other consanguineous relationships outlawed in some or most places, such a between siblings, cousins, uncle/aunts and nephews/nieces (especially those close in age).

Epstein’s daughter is as much of an accomplice as a rape victim who was wearing a low-cut blouse is an accomplice.

This kind of talk is demeaning to people who have been subjected to rape. What doe she know about Epstein’ daughter and her relationship with her father?

I don’t care if she’s 50 when the incest happens. At the end of the day, children do not have the capacity to choose to have sex with their parents, simply because the parent/child relationship ruins the capacity for consent.

Much repetition, no evidence.

You can’t have sex with your children. You also can’t have sex with anybody who is below the age of legal consent. Are these hard rules to follow?

That’s a nice try at guilt by association, trying to link consensual sex between adults to statutory rape or child rape.

By this reasoning, all parents of adult criminals should be tried for the crimes as well, especially if they gave any indication that they approved of the crimes. Depending on how supportive the parents were of the criminal acitivity, their adult children shouldn’t be prosecuted.

The truth is, some adults consent to have sex with relatives, including parents. You do not have to like that, but it should not be against the law.
— — —

Blogger Ponders BC Poly Case, Becomes Ally

Intellectual Waste appears to be anything but with this consideration of the Canadian poly trial.

But what we have to realize here is, that when dealing with polygamy we are traditionally looking at one man with many wives. We just need to junk the law and permit many forms of marriage. one women and many men, many women and many men. The combinations can be limitless. It just has to be a matter of consenting adults permitting to be married together.


That is my conclusion, legal polygamy, with restrictions on it, and very careful updating of the rest of the civil laws in the Canadian books.

That would be the sensible thing to do.

Read the whole thing.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poly Allies on Yahoo Answers

It's nice to see poly people and allies speaking up on Yahoo Answers. Alexa posed the question...

What do you think about polyamorous relationships?

I used to oppose poly relationships, considering them a sort of unfaithfulness with consent. Within the past year or so though, I've done a complete 180, and now see it as a beautiful bond of love shared between more than two people with none being wronged or neglected if all are aware and consenting.

For those who care, yes, I am in a polyamorous triad. My girlfriend and I share a common additional girlfriend. I've dated my original girlfriend for two years, and she has dated the other girlfriend for one year. I've been dating the other for 2 months, but we were friends prior.

People grow.

A few allies spoke up...

it's not for me. but if a group of people are consenting adults and are open and honest with each other about the arrangement and all find it mutually beneficial they can do what they like.


Stephanie is right love is love but i mean i just hope that if people are doing this that they respect your decision umm im not against i just hope all 3 of you are taking its serious and not fooling around but apparently not i hope you 3 have a long happy marriage and umm also i think that its consits of the people who really want a huge family and as long as you guys get along i dnt think theres a problem


What ever goes on between CONSENTING Adults is their own business, I actually admire that you have such a sweet deal.

Thanks! Yes, don't hate them because they're having a good life.

And from a poly person...

Been in a stable Poly "V" for over 10 years. Been "poly" for over 30 years (before people understood the term). So I think you can guess what I think of Poly. sure there are rocky time, just like any relationship, but my life would not have been as fulfilling or happy . While poly is certainly not for everyone and isn't common in our culture these days, it is nice to know that poly has made some gains in terms of cultural acceptance.

We're going to move towards full marriage equality if this keeps up!
— — —

Joseph Compton Gets to Be a Father to His Children

There's an update on the case of Joseph Compton, who wants to be a father to his children and is fighting prejudice against poly relationships. I wrote about this case before.

A judge has reversed a custody order barring a Juab County man from talking to his children about his religious belief in plural marriage and taking his children to the largely polygamous community he lives in.

“The court received no evidence that any of the petitioner’s children, adult or minor, have suffered real harm or will suffer substantiated potential harm as a result of his belief in the practice, even though the practice is criminal,” 4th District Judge James Brady wrote in a Wednesday decision.

The practice shouldn't be criminal in the first place.

“To restrict parent time based on illegal conduct may be appropriate, but the illegality [of polygamy] on its own is not sufficient to warrant restriction,” Brady wrote. His decision gives Kathleen Compton custody of their four minor children but allows their father unrestricted visitation.

The decision reverses an October 2009 temporary custody order issued by 4th District Judge Donald J. Eyre, who said exposure to polygamy would entail “unnecessary and harmful conflict” with the children’s monogamous upbringing.

Even the ex-wife can't cite any real potential for harm...

“I am not afraid he is going to hurt them physically. I’m afraid they’re going to join the group or marry someone in the group,” Kathleen Compton said. “As their mother I will do anything to protect them.”

She's the mother, but he's the father, and he cares about them, too. Otherwise he wouldn't be going through this trouble.

Plural Wife also covers this story.
— — —

A Dream of Poly-Friendly Media

From Uninhibited Bliss...

My dream is that there will be movies, TV programs and/or cartoons that represent a healthy poly family, so that poly children around the world will see that they are not alone.

Let's make that happen!
— — —

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How Do I Know if This Movie Depicts Polyamory?

From comes this about new movie "How Do You Know"...

In Matty, one finds How Do You Know’s most compelling feature. As a successful professional athlete, he is polyamorous by nature — it’s the only life he’s known. But he’s no scheming womanizer a la Tiger Woods. An accidental — and exceedingly polite — narcissist, beautiful women flock to him, offering sex without strings, and he graciously welcomes their company. In Lisa, he’s found someone with whom he genuinely wants to settle down, but he can’t seem to figure out how to square it with is existing values system. Love, the monogamous variety, is a legitimately alien notion to him.

Hmm. I need more clarification. Doesn't sound like the character is practicing polyfidelity. Rather's he's simply dating around. Am I wrong?

Also, some people do move from polyamory to monogamy, just as some people move from monogamy or polyamory, but I'm wary of anything that smacks of the idea that anyone would only be polyamorous because he or she simply hasn't "settled down" or found the right partner with whom to be monogamous, or has no discipline.

I don't plan on seeing the movie any time soon. Maybe a polyblogger will and can clarify if the movie is depicting polyamory, and how it is treated?
— — —

Sex, Love, and Relationships

Natja's Natterings provides this good word...

As emotionally confusing it is when someone rejects the political/social labels of ‘Bisexual, sexually fluid, queer or pansexual’ whether this decision is made because of ingrained self hatred, strict religious codes in their community or fear of homophobia by ‘coming out’ there something a bit worse than not accepting who or what you are, this is about not recognising the limits to your sexuality and how it might effect others around you.

Our laws should allow people to be true to themselves as long as the innocent aren't harmed. That is the only way they can be true to others.

Read the entire thing, which is mostly about being sexually polyamorous in a triad, but not necessarily having both partners maintaining a relationship with the unicorn.
— — —

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bring Poly Marriages Out of the Shadows

More anti-equality testimony in the Canadian poly trial should actually be seen as reason to bring polygamous marriage out of the shadows.
After conducting a worldwide statistical analysis, an American researcher found life expectancy decreased as the rate of polygamous practice increased, she testified here Thursday in a case testing Canada's law against polygamy.

Rose McDermott told a B.C. Supreme Court her study also found increased rates of maternal mortality, sex trafficking, female genital mutilation and domestic violence in such populations.

The response comes in reader comments...

Nice biased study. Have an answer and pick and choose the data you want to include to support the answer you want.

In a developed country like Canada if polygamy was open and socially acceptable (not the situation in Bountiful BC), then all these impacts dissappear.

The freedom to marry will help, not hurt.

Also of note is this comment...

It is a huge pet peeve of mine that the word "polygamy" is often used when "polygyny" or even "religious patriarchal polygyny" would be far more appropriate. I'm a young atheist woman who happens to have two boyfriends, both of whom happily agree to our set-up. If the three of us were to set up a home together and therefore be considered to be living together conjugally, I am not entirely sure how any of the harms that may stem from religious patriarchal polygyny would apply to our situation. Given that I know a fair number of other people with the same set-up, it is very bizarre to me that "polygamy" is now shorthand for a very specific type of polygyny.

There is an article about the potential numbers of Canadians who participate in various kinds of multi-partner conjugality here:

The bigots who want to keep denying marriage equality will stereotype and broadbrush to serve their purposes.
— — —

An Economist on the Poly Freedom to Marry

Dalhousie University economist Marina Adshade says granting the polygamous freedom to marry makes sense.

For a country like Canada, in which wealth is very unequally distributed, economic theory predicts that wealthy men should have more of everything, including wives. This doesn’t suggest that wives are property. It suggests that if income matters then women who are maximizing their welfare, and the welfare of their children, should prefer to be the second, third, fourth wife of a very wealthy man to being the only wife of a poor man.

Furthermore, aside from the financial resources, she may prefer the lifestyle in terms of the amount of time she will be expected to spend with her husband, the close friendship of the other wives, childcare, and so forth.

In the economic sense a policy is not optimal if someone can be made better off without making others worse off. If this is the criterion, then it has to be that criminalization of polygamy not be an optimal policy. If we allow everyone to act in their own best interests when making marriage choices, and assume that parents act in the best interest of their children, then surely those who chose to live in a polygamous household are better off than they would be in a monogamous household. They have to be because that is the arrangement they have chosen.

You can’t make someone better off by forcing them to choose an alternative form of marriage that they do not prefer.

Thank you, Marina Adshade. Let people decide for themselves. Let everyone who wants to get married marry the consenting person(s) he are she wants to marry. How does it hurt anyone else?
— — —

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Freedom to Marry Will Reduce Abuse

Dr. Todd Shackelford, a psychology professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, stated the obvious for the record on the Canadian trial over the poly freedom to marry. He pointed out that there are abusive monogamous relationships, too. The point, of course, is that some people abuse. Polygamy is not the cause of abuse, abusive people area.

“Polygyny doesn’t have the market cornered in the negative correlates and consequences” in relationships, he told the judge.

Shackelford questioned some of the conclusions about the social harms of polygamy drawn by a witness for the attorney-general of B.C., which wants to uphold the law.

There’s another article reporting the same thing here.

"My overall comment is that Professor Henrich has not provided any direct evidence of statistic comparisons of the risks for these various negative outcomes in polygynous marriages, as compared to monogamous marriages," said Shackelford.

Thank you, Dr. Shackelford.

B.C. government lawyer Craig Jones suggested it's irrelevant whether abuse also occurs in monogamous relationships. Rather, he said, the real issue is whether it occurs more in polygamy.

Let’s assume that it does. We have several examples showing that outlawing consensual behavior correlates to an increase in problems as people try to avoid law enforcement and other authorities. The right to polygamous marriage will most certainly reduce abuse, as victims can go to the authorities with much less fear. So if there is more abuse in poly marriages, and I haven’t seen evidence of that, then the solution isn’t the status quo, it is in making the relationships official, and prosecuting abusers. Victims will be much more forthcoming.
— — —

Consanguineous Love and Sex in the News

Thanks to the Swiss and David Epstein, there’s still lots of fresh news coverage and discussion of the topics of consanguineous love and sex, and incest laws criminalizing sex between consanguineous adult partners.

David Epstein’s lawyer is talking.

Epstein's lawyer, Matthew Galluzzo, gave comment to

"Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so," Galluzzo said.

Speak for yourself. Is this a tactic, or is he really that prejudiced? Maybe Epstein needs a different lawyer, like one interested in actually getting stupid laws struck down.

"It's OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home," he said. "How is this so different?

Organization. Many of the civil rights groups that have claimed they support the rights of consenting adults have not stood up for the rights of all consenting adults. We need solidarity.

Galluzzo continued: "If we assume for a moment that both parties [involved in incest] are consenting, then why are we prosecuting this?"

Because we still have people in power who want to control the sex lives of others.

It is nice to see some allies pop up here

ABC News has taken to Facebook to ask its fans and viewers: "Should incest be permitted between consenting adults?"

Of course it should. Several allies commenting agreed…

My mother taught me that I can do anything I want as long as I don't infringe on the rights of others. My mother was right. As weird and repulsive as the idea of an adult father-daughter relationship is to me, I can't tell these people what they can and can't do. Nor can anyone else. They're not hurting anyone. It's a free country. Posted by: Jack | December 15, 2010 at 01:30 PM

Thanks, Jack.

People should be left alone to do whatever they want as long as it's not hurting anyone or anything. Posted by: HJ | December 15, 2010 at 01:59 PM

Thanks, HJ.

consenting adults should be able to do as they wish....Posted by: tw | December 15, 2010 at 02:49 PM

Thankts, tw.

Some political social conservatives are going to pieces. One writes

I loathe incest because I’m a sane human being with a functional gag reflex, and doubt the continued survival of any society that would fail to punish it without hesitation.

So again, they don’t have a logical argument against legalizing consanguineous love and sex. It is just “I don’t like it, so nobody should be allowed to do it.”

Someone leaving a comment showed more intelligence…

There are two reasons for prohibiting incest between consenting adults. The first is that it leads to having children with birth defects. If that is sufficient justification for the state to prohibit sexual intercourse, then we are admitting that state-imposed eugenics is acceptable. From which it follows that people with hereditary diseases and deformities should be legally prohibited from breeding as well. Especially since the latter are more likely to produce defective offspring than incestuous unions. If government imposed eugenics is morally unacceptable, then this justification for criminalizing incest between consenting adults must be unacceptable as well.

The second reason is that incest is morally offensive. But many are morally offended by miscegenation and homosexuality. Which is more important, that consenting adults be allowed to have sex with each other without interference from the state, or that these rights be denied on the grounds that people find certain sexual unions to be disgusting. (by disinterested_spectator)

Why are consanguineous lovers singled out? They aren’t the only relationships people find offensive. The heterosexual ones aren’t the only ones that have a higher risk of birth defects. These reasons are really ruses to hide mere bigotry.
— — —

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lori Beaman Makes Good Points

Lori Beaman testified in the Canadian poly trial, making some very important points.

While she noted that there have been several autobiographical accounts of former members of fundamentalist Mormon communities, Beaman says in her affidavit that assessing harm from that would be akin to extrapolating harms of monogamy by taking the accounts of people who have had abusive marriages.

Precisely! Do a search. The World Wide Web is full of horror stories from women and men describing the nightmare of their (some supposedly, some actually, some clearly not) monogamous marriages, with many of these people swearing off marriage entirely. It would be very easy to demonstrate that monogamous marriage is harmful. Monogamy is not for everyone. Polyamory and Polygamy is not for everyone. Marriage is not for everyone. Let people decided for themselves.

Among the problems she cites in assessing harm is that much of the research has been done in “social, political, religious, economic, legal and cultural contexts distinct from those of North America.”

Another important point. Gender equality is an important condition for full marriage equality, as is the right of refusal to a marriage proposal and the right to divorce.

Beaman, who also has a law degree, suggests that rather than stereotyping, society ought to assume that all members of minority religious groups “choose to be or remain involved in religious groups.”

Are some people more easily manipulated than others? Yes. Are some people better at manipulating than others? Yes. We see that everywhere. You can see it on your local school playground. To paint a picture of manipulation in a community and claim that you have reason to deny all poly people the freedom to marry is a leap too far. Some kids get bullied on that school playground. Some kids attract multiple friends or suck-ups. It doesn’t mean kids should only be allowed to play in pairs.
— — —

More Coverage of Swiss Proposal covers the proposal to drop Switzerland’s bigoted law against some forms of consanguineous sex.

Marriage between second-degree relatives (aunt/uncle, niece/nephew) is already legal in Switzerland, but the new measure would overturn the ban on consensual sexual relationships between siblings, and between parents and their adult children. (Sexual relationships with underage children would, of course, remain illegal.) The text of the bill has yet to be released, but skeeved-out opponents have heard more than enough. Barbara Schmid Federer, a member of The Christian People's Party of Switzerland, told the Telegraph that the proposal was "completely repugnant" and that she "could not countenance painting out such a law from the statute books."

Why not? Switzerland does not criminalize every thing that someone thinks is bad.

From the Telegraph

Daniel Vischer, a Green party MP, said he saw nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex, even if they were related.

"Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law," he said.

Thank you, Daniel Vischer. The consensual sex life of adults should not be the business of the government.
— — —

Nebraska Charges Mother With Incest

It’s a little difficult to know for sure what is really going on in this case out of Nebraska. After her husband was arrested on an incest charge, Teresa Holloway was recently charged with incest. They were accused by their adult daughter.

She alleged that she had a sexual relationship with her father and mother beginning when she was 14, police said. She further stated that the relationship continued through her adult years.

If what she says is true, they should be prosecuted for child rape, child molestation, statutory rape, or whatever law would apply. The incest charge is superfluous.

Dennis Holloway maintained that it did not take place until the victim was 18. Incest is a class-three felony and could land the Holloways in jail for 20 years.

If he is telling the truth, this should not be a crime unless there was force or coercion. Of course, people who prey on minors are often liars in addition to being the scum of the earth. But if he is telling the truth, this could be a daughter who is angry with her parents for other reasons.

The larger issue is this. Rape, statutory rape, sexual assault, and molestation laws are what are needed to protect adults and children. There shouldn’t be a law that criminalizes consensual sex involving adults, even if they are closely related.
— — —

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saletan at Slate on Consanguineous Sex

William Saletan at Slate linked to this blog in his take on the David Epstein case, open-mindedly called “Incest is Cancer.” The heading of the piece asks “If homosexuality is OK, why is incest wrong?” Saletan goes on to note that these are two different categerories. Of course they are. One can be homosexual and engage in incest, or not. One can engage in incest and be homosexual or heterosexual. It’s like asking “If drinking wine is OK, why is dancing wrong?” There are people who decry both wine drinking and dancing as part of their moral code, and there are people who decry both homosexuality and and incest as part of their moral code.

In both examples, it becomes problematic when people who avoid these things themselves try to force everyone else to avoid them, too.

If homosexuality is okay because private sex between consenting adults is okay, then so is consanguineous sex because it is also private sex between consenting adults.

One side defends the privacy of all consensual sex; the other side sees an inexorable descent from homosexuality to incest.

Homosexuality and consanguineous sex among humans have both been around for all of human existence. One clearly does not cause the other.

Saletan goes on to look at why homosexuality is legal and certain kinds of consanguineous sex, in most places, aren’t.

The old answer was genetics. Germany's high court relied on that argument two years ago when it upheld the conviction of Patrick Stuebing for sex with his sister. Of the four children the couple produced, three had physical or mental disabilities.

This also happens in other families where the parents aren’t closely related. On the flip side, there have been many healthy babies born to close relatives.

In general, studies show a significantly higher rate of birth defects in offspring of incestuous couples.

This is true. When the chances go from something like 2% to 4% (I’m just making up the numbers), that is a 100% increase. But that happens with births to older parents, too. And we don’t prevent people from inherited diseases from reproducing. Regardless, most sex does not result in live births, nor do the lovers intend it intend to. As he writes…

But this rationale won't withstand close scrutiny or the march of technology. If genetics is the issue, just get a vasectomy. Then you can bang your sister all you want.

Uhm, thanks for the crude take of some very loving relationships.

On to the next objection, exploitation.

But you can't prosecute Epstein under that theory. According to news reports, his daughter is 24, and their affair began in 2006. That makes her an adult. Furthermore, police say the sex appears to have been consensual.

Prosecuting this case will be a waste of resources. Hopefully, though, it will lead to the downfall of laws against consensual sex.

He looks at what he sees as the conservative argument…

Families depend on moral structure: Mom, Dad, kids. When you confound that structure—when Dad sleeps with a man, Dad sleeps with another woman, or Mom sleeps with Grandpa—the family falls apart. Kids need clear roles and relationships. Without this, they get disoriented. Mess with the family, and you mess up the kids.

Where does this knowing what is best for the children of other people stop? Should single parents not allowed to keep custody? Should we compel pregnant women to get a specific kind of prenatal care? Also, this doesn’t apply at all to adoptees who reunite as adults. They already have families. Some women say their sister is their best friend. Doesn't that blur roles and relationships and cause disorientation? Why would that be acceptable and the sisters marrying each other not be? Many people have many relationships that have more than one aspect. They may be spouses and coworkers. They may be friends and coworkers. They may be siblings and coworkers, siblings and best friends, and siblings and spouses.

Morally, the family-structure argument captures our central intuition about incest: It confuses relationships. Constitutionally, this argument provides a rational basis for laws against incest.

But some people do also apply this to same-sex relationships. Friendships, these people say, become potential sexual relationships; it confuses relationships because men are supposed to be friends and not lovers, the say. Why don't we let everyone worry about their own relationships?

When a young man falls in love with another man, no family is destroyed.

If there is a negative reaction by his parents or siblings, the family is just as destroyed as it is when parents or siblings react negatively to a sexual relationship between family members. Accepting each other drastically cuts down on the problems.

Homosexuality is largely immutable…Incest spectacularly flunks this test. By definition, it occurs within an already existing family. So it offers no benefit in terms of family formation.

Something does not have to be immutable to be legal. However, there are people with GSA who would swear to you that they couldn’t love anyone as much as they love their partner.

How can the author say that consanguineous sex offers no benefits in family formation? For some, it has resulted in continuing the family. For more, it has strengthened their bonds.

On the contrary, it injects a notoriously incendiary dynamic - sexual tension - into the mix.

That must be why there is such a high divorce rate. Almost every single one of those relationships involved sex! If only they would have abstained, they could have eliminated all of that tension and stayed married.

Think of all the opposite-sex friendships you and your friends have cumulatively destroyed by "crossing the line." Now imagine doing that to your family. That's what incest does.

It can. So again, the answer to all human relationships is to never have sex. Your friends can stay your friends that way without having to be mature. Jealousy would be reduced.

And don't tell me you're just adding a second kind of love to your relationship. That's like adding a second kind of life to your body.

What? Don't tell me that gays have to have sex! It would ruin their friendship. Again, there’s no reason why people can’t have more levels to their relationship than just one.

I wouldn't prosecute David Epstein.

And most of the people who voted for Prop H8 wouldn’t prosecute same-sex couples for having sex. I suppose that is progress, but it isn’t enough. Laws against consensual, private sex need to be eliminated. You are not going to force what you see as good familial relationships onto others by keeping it illegal for those who want to engage in sex to do so.

But incest is wrong. There's a rational basis to forbid it.

I’m still waiting for a clear justification that doesn’t involve “It isn’t how I would do things.” The author says it is like cancer. Others disagree. It is his word against ours. He cites court decisions, but the courts have been wrong in the past on other things, too. They are moving towards marriage equality. There are many things one might choose not to do, but they aren’t illegal. We’re not saying this is the way everyone should be. We’re saying that the persecution, prosecution, and denial of the freedom to marry needs to end, so that those who find happiness in choosing this life can continue to pursue that happiness. Isn’t that their right?
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David Epstein Case Brings Out the Ignorance

Here’s a piece by Heather Muse on the David Epstein case. You know it isn’t going to be good when the title includes “Yeeeechh.”

The case brings the idea of "consensual incest" back into the spotlight. Last year, actress Mackenzie Phillips discussed her relationship with her late father, John Phillips, in her memoir, "High on Arrival," and introduced us to the term.

Really? This writer had never heard of consensual incest before? Next she’ll ask what a “ho…mo…sexual” is, or what a “marital aid” is.

The slightly-less-squicky term for consensual incestuous relationships is "genetic sexual attraction," and there are several sites on the Internet dedicated to discussing this taboo.

Actually, GSA is usually used to describe a sexual or physical attraction between biologically related people who are reunited after one or both of them matures. For example, a father and daughter relationship in which the daughter was raised by someone else with little or no contact with her father, or a brother and sister who did not grow up together. One or both may experience GSA. This attraction may or may not result in sex. Consanguineous sex, or “consensual incest,” also happens between close relatives who were not separated for such a length of time. Sometimes it is experimentation, such as between minor siblings who end up moving on and living seperate lives with others. Sometimes it is something more and results in lasting marriage relationships (only it is usually without legal marriage equality.) Nonconsensual incest is rape, assault, or molestation, including when one person is too much younger than the other person to consent.

We wonder: Can anyone truly "consent" to having a sexual relationship with a parent or other older relative? The power differential seems too great.

There is a power differential in just about any relationship, sometimes an enormous power differential. One person is more emotionally needy than another. One earns more than the other. One is more educated than another. One has more friends and family than another. One has more life experience than other. On and on it goes. To question if consent is truly possible in these cases is insulting and demeaming. There are sober, functional, healthy people who consent to consanguineous sex with an older relative. It shouldn’t be illegal or questioned, unless you would do the same to any intergenerational relationship between adults.

I can understand why someone would never want to have this level of relationship with a close relative, and I can understand why someone would only ever want a monogamous relationship. But for them to take their personal feelings and desires and insist that nobody could really consent to a polyamorous or consanguineous relationship is so much prejudice, and why full marriage equality is currently denied.
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Rights Should Not Be Taken Away By Majority Vote

The Province asked readers if “polygamy should be allowed in British Columbia.” It’s a good thing that fundamental rights like marriage aren’t left up to popular votes.

Laurie Spiess, Vancouver…

Polygamy should definitely be outlawed in B.C. as it is clearly a way for men to exploit women and children.

Yes, because the perfectly legal situation of impregnating different women without having any social or legal obligation to those women isn’t? These polygynists are men who want to be obligated to these women and children. Why shouldn’t that be encouraged?

Would the same men be open to the women having numerous husbands?

I am. Or for a woman having numerous wives. I’m for full marriage equality.

Cheryl Blaschuk, Surrey…

If this group feels they want this lifestyle, power to them. But they should not have custody of the children – they do not have a choice.

What? Would Blaschuk say the same thing about a man who impregnates several casual dates?

Beth Ross, Burnaby…

Of course polygamy should be allowed in B.C., or anywhere. Reason: Most adults already practice it, but in secret – committed to one partner but still visiting others.


Walter Bramsleven, 100 Mile House…

I will never understand why a man would even want more than one wife.

There are lots of things I don’t understand about what other people want, but I don’t try to make the harmless wants illegal.

Kristee Walker, Richmond…

As long as my taxes don’t have to support them, I see no problem with it. They should financially support their own families.

I think the conditions of financial support should be equal. How many children from people who don’t claim to be polygamists are getting assistance? Far more than those from polygamist families, you can be sure of that.

Lucy Ryan, Coquitlam…

In my opinion, polygamy is a pedophile’s chance to have sex with young girls.

Yeah, girls are never molested by self-proclaimed monogamists. Hey, burn at the stake pedophiles who molest or rape children. I’ll give you the matches. But don’t use pedophiles as an excuse to deny marriage equality to adults who love each other.

Clayton Randle, Langley…

I think that polygamy has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the sexual gratification of men. This needs to come to an end.

Hey, look, Randle, just because you might be frustrated does not mean everyone’s sexual gratification need come to an end. So to speak.

Michael Patrick O’Keeffe, Vancouver…

From personal experience, I have found that one wife at a time is more than sufficient.

It’s very simple. Don’t want more than one spouse? Don’t have more than one! See how easy that is?

Don McLachlan, Langley…

It seems that young women raised in a polygamist, religious society ought to be “sweet” and follow the way. This is brainwashing and is submissive behaviour.

Ah yes. Unless they’re brainwashed, young women are sour, not sweet.

No one should hold power over another in this way.

Have you met many men who have been married to one wife for a while?

Sue Hawirko, Maple Ridge…

I think they have a right to live any way they want to. If they want to leave then they should also be able to do so.

Thank you!

Gavin Burgess, Aldergrove…

Personally I have no objection to polygamy any more than I do to gay marriage. It’s a personal thing and it should remain a personal thing. The state has far too many important issues to deal with than polygamy.

Thank you!

There were other comments, too, mostly bigoted. The antiequality people seem to favor two arguments...

1) I don't want more than one spouse/I don't want my spouse having more than one spouse.

Fine. Freedom gives people options, not mandates. So this is a nonargument.

2) Gross old men are taking child brides!

That's something that happens with or without polygamy. Enforce the age of consent. This is another nonargument.

Stop allowing irrational biogtry to interfere with love. Lift bans on the freedom to polygamous marriage.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Same Old Arguments Against Freedom to Marry

Professor Joseph Henrich of the University of British Columbia testified that polygamy is natural, but that it is harmful. Say what?

Prof. Henrich's testimony pointed to numerous studies indicating that societies that abandon polygamy do better.

What is meant by “do better?”

“There's a lot of research increasingly showing that amongst modern, westernized democracies, societies that are more equal … have a whole bunch of better social outcomes,” Prof. Henrich said.

I want full marriage equality, not polygyny only. How could full marriage equality decrease equality? He’s assuming that everyone will be polygynous.

Prof. Henrich said humans and other primates are genetically predisposed to favour polygamy – specifically, the form of polygamy in which one man has multiple wives.

Indeed, he said monogamy is a relatively recent phenomenon for humans, tracing its history back to ancient Greece and Rome, which in turn influenced Christianity and eventually spread into Europe.

The rise of monogamy led to a different kind of evolution: cultural evolution. Societies that became monogamous, he said, became more advanced and prospered, while those that remained polygamous did not.

There are many “monogamous” societies that I can think of today that are some of the poorest in the world. So many factors go into whether or not a society “prospers” that I wonder if a definite connection can be made?

When men have multiple wives, they require younger women to meet the demand. Prof. Henrich said that leads to teenage brides, with young girls marrying much older men.

It’s called “age of consent.” Problem solved.

That also creates a pool of men, usually of lower economic and social status, with no one left to marry. Those men are more likely to commit crimes, including rape and murder, and abuse drugs and alcohol, Prof. Henrich said.

Yeah, just the other day I heard from a friend who was like, “Dude, if I was still unmarried, I’d be out killing other people. But since I have a wife, I guess I won’t.” I’ve heard this crap before. So what this professor is implying is that a young woman who is an adult should not have the freedom to marry some wealthy middle-aged guy who already has a wife, she should have to marry someone with criminal tendencies, and her love will keep him from raping and murdering. I think someone’s been in the ivory tower too long. He’s assuming these second and third wives would want to marry someone with a criminal bent and that the men would want to marry these women. And he’s assuming that no women would have multiple husbands.

Maybe he has it backwards. Maybe the kind of men who engage in criminal activities are less likely to attract and keep a wife? Say, what are the crime rates in those polygynous countries, anyway? I seem to recall they aren't very high.

Because of the competition for wives, he said, men are more likely to exert control over women, leading to increases in domestic violence and abuse.

That makes no sense. Higher demand means more value, right? Especially when a wife can go find another husband. The fact that the other husband is already married may not be a hindrance, meaning she has more options.

And children suffer in polygamous societies. Prof. Henrich said men are less likely to invest time and resources in child rearing because they father so many children and are constantly focused on finding new wives.

How is this as bad as fathers whose time is divided over children from multiple girlfriends? The answer: It isn't, because with the freedom to marry, the children of polygynous men will have legally married parents.

Full marriage equality will mean more marriage. If marriage is a good thing, what is the problem?
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Switzerland May Lift Ban on Consanguineous Sex

Turns out that the reasoning to keep laws against consensual sex is full of holes. So the Swiss may lift them.

The upper house of the Swiss parliament has drafted a law decriminalising sex between consenting family members which must now be considered by the government.

Switzerland insists that children within families will continue to be protected by laws governing abuse and paedophilia.

Imagine that. They might change their laws so that they make sense, instead of criminalizing consensual sex.

Politicians of both the left and right are said to be outraged at the suggested change.

On what grounds? I mean, besides bigotry?

But Green party MP and lawyer Daniel Vischer said he saw nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex - even if they were related.

Good for him, but there’s no reason to limit the number to two.

Barbara Schmid Federer of The Christian People's Party of Switzerland slammed the proposal, saying it was "completely repugnant".

She said: "I for one could not countenance painting out such a law from the statute books."

Why not?

The Protestant People's Party is also opposed to decriminalising the offence which at present carries a maximum three year jail term.

A spokesman for the party said: "Murder is also quite rare in Switzerland but no-one suggests that we remove that as an office from the statutes."

Yes, but there’s a difference. Murder hurts someone. There’s a victim. There’s no victim when unattached adults of different generations, different races, the same sex, or the same family get together and choose to engage in sex.

From another article

The law’s been taking several small steps in this direction already. Ten years ago, the civil code was revised to allow marriages between aunts and nephews or uncles and nieces.

It’s time to stop legislating what happens in bedrooms.

Incestous relationships between adults are legal in a number of countries, according to a study by the Max Planck Institute, including France, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Turkey, China, the Ivory Coast and in three U.S. states.

The move of the world that moves towards full marriage equality, the better.
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