Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Now is the Time - Solidarity is Best

This piece coincided with something I had meant to write. It is about solidarity.

This blog, and the related Facebook page, calls for relationship rights for all adults, including full marriage equality. When we say that an adult should be free to marry any and all consenting adults, we actually mean it. We have not hidden that.

I've had more than one polyamorous person think that this is great... when they realize it means I support the polygamous (or polyamorous) freedom to marry... then react negatively when they realize it means I support the consanguineous freedom to marry.

Yes, I do. I support the right of an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion, to marry any and all consenting adults. So yes, I support the right of a white woman to marry a man of African ancestry, or 30-year-old man to marry a 60-year-old woman, or a man to marry a man, or a woman to marry two men, or a woman to marry the half-brother she first met when they were both adults. None of these marriages hurt anyone else. None of these marriages hurt anyone, at least not in and of themselves. There are people who aren't right for each other, there are abusers, but that has to do with the individuals involved, and not the general freedom to marry.

There are patriarchal polygynists who want support for their "plural marriages" but do not want to associate with anyone or anything standing up for the rights of LGBT people, or polyandrists, or any non-polygynist polyamorists.

There are monogamist gays and lesbians who dismiss someone else's need for polyamory or for the need of cousin couples to marry.

There are cousin couples who grew up together as much as any siblings who do not support the rights of half-siblings who did not grow up together to get married or even just be together without being criminally prosecuted.

There are many other examples like this. Everyone has their own interests, priorities, likes and dislikes, prejudices, and biases. Some people care only about their needs, not those of anyone else.

But we (including many LGBT people, and many people who are in or seeking plural marriage, a polygamous marriage, a polyamorous relationship, or a consanguineous relationship) are people who support the rights of all adults. We support full marriage equality, not just a freedom to marry for this group or that group. A decent person does not have to like the idea of every one of these relationships to support the rights of adults to have the relationships they want. A person doesn't have to want something for themselves or a loved one to have compassion for others who do need it.

Solidarity is:

1. The right thing to do


2. It will prove to be the most effective way of securing rights.

Even some people who agree with #1 do not agree with #2.

Recently, a polyamorous person expressed to me her concern that my support for consanguinamorous relationships is a threat to the rights of poly people. Consanguinamory just isn't supposed to be how a relationship works, she said to me publicly. But haven't we heard these same things from some monogamist LGBT people about polyamorists? Shoot, we hear it about the "BT" in "LGBT". "Drop the bisexuals and transgendered in order to further the rights of lesbians and gays!" It is not only an awful thing to do, it is a false promise. There's the real slippery slope: allowing those who oppose equality to deny rights to anyone. 

But I was told that I was asking for too much in asking for full marriage equality, that by insisting that consanguineous lovers have their rights, too, that I was going to hurt the cause for poly people and there could be a swing of the proverbial pendulum, essentially back to the hetero-monogamous married only climate of condemning and denying rights to poly people, LGBT people, unmarried lovers, etc. Texas was cited as an example because of the recent vote on abortion restrictions. Texas is an outlier, though. Texas criminalizes consensual adult sex between first cousins, who can legally marry in about half of the states. Remember it was Texas law criminalizing "sodomy" that was stuck down in Lawrence vs. Texas. That was as recently as 2003. Meanwhile, just a year later, the limited same-gender freedom to marry began in Massachusetts after a long-building momentum.

Momentum is strong and increasing. We're not going to see a reduction in LGBT or poly rights; we're going to see a continuing advance. Including rights for the consanguinamorous will not jeopardize this; rather, standing up for relationship rights for all will strengthen the rights for LGBT and poly people. That is true because the people are evolving, for the most part, not because they no longer have their own aversions to relationships different than their own (many of them still do), but because they can think and they have thought through it and realized that consenting adults should be themselves and have their relationships and not be treated as second class citizens for doing so. When someone says we should support rights for consenting adults ...except for consanguinamorous relationships they are actually undermining LGBT and poly rights and the related freedoms to marry, because the people to whom they are making their appeal find the appeal insincere.

Almost all who do oppose or have opposed interracial, same-gender, polyamorous, and consanguineous sexuality/relationships/marriage have done so for two primary reasons:

1. personal disgust
2. their religion

Sometimes those two reasons are indistinguishable.

But when people are calmly but firmly asked to think it through, and their concerns are addressed, they realize that there is no good reason to oppose consensual relationships between consenting adults. When someone insists that it is still OK or right to oppose consanguineous relationships, they are almost invariably bringing back an argument that they just dismissed when it comes to other freedoms to marry, as Greenfield points out. To say that it is permissible to deny consanguineous lovers their rights, someone actually undermines the case for their own rights. Specifically, a polyamorous person runs a risk because the consanguineous freedom to marry takes less paperwork and adjustment than adjusting for polyamory. Also, more people have experienced consanguineous experimentation (at the very least) than have experienced polyfidelity or open coupling. 10-15% of people in their early 20s will confide in surveys to having had consensual sexual contact with a siblings. The percentages increase in older age groups (due to more opportunities as time goes by.) That doesn't include contact with cousins, aunts, uncles, or parents. Some of those people enter into lasting relationships.

Now is the time to push for the rights of ALL adults. The bigots are in retreat. There's no going back. There may be some isolated backlash, but this kind of prejudice is dying out... literally. When we respond to the stubborn bigots by saying yes, discrimination against some adults is OK, the remaining observers, who are the ones who can be persuaded to support rights for polyamorists and LGBT people, are going to lose respect for the argument for equality. So the best response to "What's next?" is "Rights for all consenting adults. Why is that a problem?" The bigots won't have a good reason. Put them on the defensive, and they'll lose.

Consenting adults of any relation can be together in Rhode Island. There's no reason they shouldn't be free to marry, and no reason why first cousins, who can legally marry in California, should not be free to be together in Texas. There's no reason for Utah to criminalize polyamory. There's no good reason for any state to deny consenting adults their fundamental rights to be together and to marry.
Those who oppose equality and have cited my blog have never explained what is wrong with what I have argued. Conversely, people have told me that I have opened and changed their minds about same-gender relationships, about polyamorous relationships, and about consanguineous relationships. I have received relieved and thankful messages from people who are so happy to find that someone speaks for them. I will not throw these people under the bus.

These disputes are nothing new to the civil rights movement. Going all the way back to when African-Americans were still enslaved, there were disputes about what rights to seek and how to seek them. "Do we fight for desegregation? For interracial marriage?" Those fighting for women's rights have had similar disputes. "Do we fight for lesbians or not?"To this day, there are people who say civil rights are for African-Americans. Not for gays, not even for Mexicans. Don't play that game. Stand up for the rights of all adults. You don't have to like the idea of interracial relationships, or same-gender relationships, or polyamorous relationships, or consanguineous relationships to realize that people should have their rights.

Standing up for full marriage equality is not only the principled thing to do, it is the practical thing as well. There are people who are suffering right now because their loving, lasing, happy, healthy relationship is denied equality or even criminalized. This is not right, and it needs to end.
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  1. I agree, solidarity is the best. With solidarity, the arguments we use are simple, easy to get across, and air tight. But the second we start throwing others under the bus out of fear, we create vulnerabilities. Not to long ago, I had an argument with somebody over incestuous rights. And the person said "Laws are there for a reason, they help us, and protect us." This person was a supporter of gay rights. By his logic, when homosexuality was banned, it was to help us and to protect us. He didn't even realize that he undermined his very own position just so he could attack my mine. I've done debates in highschool and was recommended to join the debate team even, and a slip-up like that could have been very harmful to his cause.

    Other things is that they have to rely on misinformation, and yet what if they were found out? If I was a viewer in such a debate, I would ask "What else is he lying about?" or "What else did he get wrong?" Producing lies whether it be because of intentions or misinformation can be fatal for an argument. More than that though, it shows a lack of real research. I've heard the slippery slope argument and everytime I hear someone defend the lgbt while throwing consanguinamory under the bus with this line "unlike same-sex relationships, incest has rational arguments against it." I know then that the person has done absolutely no actual research on the subject, it's just a face value blurb. Of course it's biased, in that they don't care about consanguinamorous couples, and by extension, marriage equality. Same thing for polyamory. When they show the only knowledge on the subject being of mormons or of a cult or whatever situation with forced marriages, when they think it always ends up in arranged marriages with children, then I know they haven't done any research at all. And if they're knowledge of the things they oppose is so low, why should I trust them on the things they support? I would be disappointed if they were my apologetic for I know they would be full of holes.

    When debating, you always need to know more about what you oppose than even the supporters. And who knows, you may even change your opinion, closing yourself to the possibility is a fallacy.

    1. Thank you, Anonymous! What a great and insightful comment.

      Yes, appealing to the illegality is flawed for many reason, first being that it is arguing in a circle. The very thing we are usually talking about the is the law. These relationships should not be illegal nor denied marriage. Arguing that they should "because" they are illegal is not offering a position. It is stating the status quo. If we just accepted laws as they were, African-Americans would be still forced to sit at the back of the bus in many places, still forced to go to segregated schools that got less funding, etc. And yes, gay relationships would still be illegal. The whole point is that we're trying to make out laws better.

      Also, there are places in the US and many other countries where the relationships are NOT illegal.

  2. Hi Keith, can you please do an blog entries about sex positive. And what it means to different people?

    (Definition wise, I meant)


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