Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Polygamy, Monogamy, Freedom, AIDS

Zulu monarch King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and South African President Jacob Zuma both practice polygyny, and there was some tension recently (see here and here) over statements made by a group that is advocating monogamy as part of their larger effort to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.

There are a few things I wanted to say about this.

I believe in the freedom of speech. I recognize that some countries have more restrictions on speech than others, but ideally, people should be free to speak their minds. I try not to make blanket criticisms of monogamy as a personal choice, though I should have that freedom, too. If someone wants to criticize polygamy, they should be able to do so, as long as they don’t try to deny anyone their freedom to marry.

This freedom to marry doesn’t just mean the freedom to polygamy. It means the freedom to monogamy, or the freedom not to marry at all. Full marriage equality includes the freedoms to marry the consenting person or persons of your choice, or not to marry at all.

I support fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Neither polygamy nor polyamory spread HIV/AIDS. The disease may be spread when an infected person has unprotected sex with someone who wasn’t previously infected. It doesn’t matter if they are monogamous or poly. Ten people could regularly have sex with each other, and if none of them are HIV+, none of the others will become HIV+. Do not blame those who are poly for what is done by cheaters, liars, and those who choose to be ignorant of their HIV status. Don’t take that misplaced blame and use it to deny this freedom to marry, or give someone a false sense of security because they are in monogamous relationship. A monogamous relationship with someone who is HIV+ brinks risk of contracting HIV.
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