Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Solidarity for the Polygamous Freedom to Marry

At Escapist Magazine, someone named ironphoenix started off a lengthy discussions with

Logically, if you accept that homosexual marriage is ok (and I assume the majority of The Escapist agrees here) then using the same logic that allowed homosexual marriage, polygamy should also be fine.Yes? No? Maybe?

If the criteria for supporting the same-sex freedom to marriage is “consenting adults should be allowed the marriages they choose,” then yes, the same logic supports the polygamous freedom to marriage, as well as the consanguineous freeom to marriage; essentially, full marriage equality. However, as we know, there isn’t nearly as much solidarity on this issue as we’d like. There are LGBT people, whether in same-sex relationships or not, and heterosexual supporters of the same-sex freedom to marry, who denounce any polyamory, or specifically polygamy. Likewise, you can find polygamists who do not support the same-sex freedom to marry. Not all polygamists even support all forms of polygamy. For example, there are polygynists who would denounce group marriages or polyandry, or even polygynist males with more than four wives.

See, for example, the first response by Seanchaidh…

No. There is no necessary connection between the two. There are principles that justify homosexual marriage that do not justify polygamy and vice versa.

Yes, but if the principle is “consenting adults,” then there is a connection.

ravensheart18 responded to Seanchaidh…

Of course there is a connection. The whole argument in favor of same sex marriage is that the government has no business telling consenting adults who they should have sex with, fall in love with, or marry. Once you have establised that very valid concept, it clearly opens the door to three or more consenting adults doing as they wish.

ravensheart18 explains why he is asking…

Right now it is perfectly legal in most of the world to have a husband or wife, and as many boyfriends/girlfriends as you like.

Sadly however you can never provide that gf/bf with the security of marriage. Oh sure, you can set up cohabitation agreements to provide some protection for those long term additional partners, but it is never the same in law as the "legal wife/husband" and thus they are permanent second class citizens. They may not, for example, be recognized as next of kin in the hospital. This second class citizen problem was one of the arguments in favor of legalizing same sex marriage. Long term partners deserve recognition and protection from the law.

My first experience with a poly arrangement lasted for a bit under a year. My gf was really wonderful, she and my wife got along well, and things had potential.

It ended because my gf, who initially said she didn't want to ever marry anyone anyway, told me that our relationship made me realize that she did want to marry and that there were guys out there worth spending a lifetime with. However, since under the law we couldn't have that...

It's stupid. Here we had three happy people and because of prejudice we couldn't move the relationship forward.

That is sad, and just one example of how a lack of equality harms.

Evilthecat gets more detailed…

My research topic is non-monogamous behaviour in an LGBT context, so this is kind of my turf.

To be very crude about this. There is a link, and it's one I think LGBT people should be proud of and celebrate. Gay and lesbian relationships are much more likely than heterosexual ones to be non-monogamous or open in some sense, and to continue to be so until much later in life. Similarly, relationships are much more likely to function within a pragmatic, friendly context rather than being governed by a concept of exclusive romantic love between two people. This openness regarding intimacy (the 'family of choice', 'liquid love' etc.) is in my opinion the biggest contribution of the LGBT lifestyle to society as a whole.

Later, Evilthecat clarifies…

What I really mean is that there are certain LGBT groups and people, particularly in the early gay liberation movement and later critiques of heteronormativity, who have very much put forward a critique of the normative structure of intimacy through marriage and monogamy, and that this has been very influential in developing new modes of intimacy (like polyamory). I think it would be a shame to play down the 'queer' role in that, or the fact that pioneers of these kind of concepts and lifestyles have generally been LGBT.

The arguments against the polygamous freedom to marry were of the sort I have refuted here.

It was heartening to see so many allies and so much solidarity, including from…

James Raynor
Danger Mouse
maddawg IAJI
Pirate Kitty
Vault Citizen

Nibbles explicitly expressed solidarity for consanguineous relationships, too.
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