Monday, May 31, 2010

Sex or Love?

Steph asks if polyamory is about sex or love.

My answer is...yes. As I understand it, it can be about love, but it can also be about sex. It can be about both.

We should not tell consenting adults that that they can’t love one another, or can’t have sex with one another, but nor should we tell them that they have to have sex with each other if they love each other, or that they have to love each other if they have sex with each other. How people love each other, and how they express that love for each other, is not something for those outside the relationship to attempt to measure, limit, or force.
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Serial Monogamy or Polyamory: Do What is Best

Deborah Anapol, Ph.D has an excellent blog posting (and an upcoming book.) The blog posting is well worth reading, and if it is any indication, the book will be, too.

So the question is not so much whether to love more than one, but whether it works better to have multiple partners sequentially or at the same time. There are definitely some people who are far better off taking it one at a time, and there are some situations which call out for other possibilities. I'm continually amazed both by the ingenuity, courage, and vulnerability of people who have made their own bodies and hearts the center for an inquiry into the true nature of love and by the persistent self-deception, lack of integrity, and callousness others justify by calling what they are doing polyamory.

While many people define polyamory as the practice of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with everyone's full knowledge and consent, I see it differently. To me polyamory is a philosophy of loving that asks us to surrender to love. Polyamory leads us to ask, "What is the most loving and authentic way I can be present with these people and with myself at this time?"

The answer to this question may not always be obvious, and it may change over time, but the asking of it, and the willingness to consider answers we may not want to hear, is the whole point of polyamory. Most of us would rather surrender to our cultural conditioning, to our emotional discomfort, peer pressure, social censure, lust, convenience, or a partner's demands than to the unvarnished truth about what would contribute the most to the well being of everyone involved.

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Everyone should be free to love the way that suits them. Honesty with yourself and others, and respecting yourself and others, is important to happiness. You can have bad monogamy and good monogamy. The same goes for polyamory.
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Adam and Eve

Despite the consensus of scientists, there are many people who believe in Adam and Eve, or some similar beginning to the human race, whether or not they believe everything ancient religious texts say about human origins.

However, if someone does believe that two, and only two, people started off the human race from scratch, if they believe the traditional story of Adam and Eve, then they also have to accept that we are all the products of incest, because Adam and Eve’s children would have had to reproduce with each other or their parents, or both. Proponents of fundamentalist Christianity acknowledge this. You can see a typical discussion of this in this Yahoo Answers link.

Did Adam an Eve's children commit incest?

If they did why don't we have sex with our family members, and if they didn't please explain how it wasn't incest.

Some people have sex with their family members today. A better question would be why consensual sex between any adults is scandalized.

A typical answer to the question is provided that is all too eager to say we should no longer engage in the kind of relationships that supposedly created us in the first place.

According to today's laws and standards, yes they did. However, at that time, there were no laws against such activities, and they knew no difference. Several thousand years after the earth was populated, God gave the law which stated that we were not to have sexual relations with near kin. Now, today, there are laws on the books against it as well.

If this person is going to be consistent in their belief that God gave a law against incest, won’t they also have to admit that the same God also gave lots of other laws at the same time that are no longer followed? Perhaps the laws served their purpose long ago and are no longer needed?

Today, the gene pool is very corrupt and having children with near kin would cause all kinds of problems for many.

This is alarmism. There are children of such relationships who are just fine, and children of people who aren’t closely related to each other who have severe birth defects. Besides, it is not up to anyone else to tell people they can’t love each other or have children. Sex, marriage, and having children are all three different things that don’t have to go together, and don’t always go together, so stop using children as an excuse to deny people the right to love each other.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Fired For Sexuality

There are still places in the USA where someone can be discriminated against in employment on the basis of their sexual orientation and personal sexual behavior. In some places, it is legal to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. In more places, it is legal to discriminate against the polyamorous and consanguineous, and some people are actually prosecuted for their polyamorous and consanguineous lifestyles.

Here’s an example of someone who lost her job because she enjoyed and wrote about her polyamorous orientation on her personal time, even though by all accounts she was strictly professional while on the job, and she kept her personal and professional lives strictly separate, even using a handle in her writing about her personal life.

Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri told The Riverfront Times it's not an employer's job to police the sexual lives of its employees – "when an employer discriminates on that basis it is sex discrimination and it's against the law," he said.

This is why we need a Marriage Equality Amendment.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

First Cousins

In this blog posting, Danielle writes about what does and does not fit the definition of incest: do first cousins count?

Because really, even if it isn't technically "incest" it's still creepy as hell! Funny on the show... but creepy in real life. Down with flipper babies!

The show to which she refers is “Arrested Development.”

This kind of bigotry and ignorance is all too common. First cousins are able to marry in many parts of the United States and around the world, and while it doesn’t sound like her cup of tea, many people have happy, fulfilled lives married to their cousin and they also have healthy children.

You’re free to call it what you want- I prefer consanguineous to incestuous. But if you want to be respectful, “creepy” isn’t a good word. As you know, I believe in marriage equality, and so not only should first cousins be able to marry everywhere, so should adult sibling, parent-child, and aunt/uncle-niece/nephew couples, trios, etc.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Slurs Against Polyamory

On Yahoo Answers, I found a rambling statement from someone who seemed upset. This is how it started:

Polyamory is just glossed-over, Blinged, glorified whoring around by a bunch of middle-aged yuppies/yippies who never grew up and their wives decided to go look for other lovers.

I think the writer was lashing out in pain (read the rest of it), but there are a lot of other people who calmly express such ignorance and close-mindedness, often unprompted. This is the kind of thing that has prevented marriage equality.

Why do people trash the sexuality and relationships of others? If people who love each other agree that it is okay to have relationships with others, either alone or together, why does that bother someone else who isn’t even involved? Jealousy? Envy? Mean-spiritedness? Who you love and who you marry should be nobody else’s concern.

One could just as easily say something stupid like “Monogamy is just glorified selfishness and possessiveness.” Or “Abstinence is just dressed-up laziness or rejection.”

Polyamory is not cheating. It isn’t necessarily swinging, although swinging can be involved. That is why there are different words: because they are different.

Want to be monogamous? That’s fine. Be with someone else who wants to be monogamous, and leave the polyamorous people alone.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crimes of the Mind

Over at this blog, the writer rails against criminalizing thought: the thinking of some men that they have more than one wife.

You see, pretty soon, Wendell Nielsen will go on trial in Texas for having one legal wife and some other women whom he thinks of as "wives" (not "daughters"). He is not being charged with incest. He is being charged with "bigamy". In Texas' view, his crime is that he has one legal wife, a handful of other (always adult) partners with whom he has allegedly shared a dwelling or a bed but, WORST OF ALL, he believes in the biblical doctrine of plural marriage as restored through Joseph Smith. That's the kicker - that's what makes him a felon - not the women, the sex, the children, the cohabiting (all protected acts throughout Texas, Canada and the U.S.) - NO, it's the thoughts in his head, the abstract notions of theology and religious doctrine shared by at least 13 million Latter-day Saints.

While I do not agree with all of the writers apparent positions, the writer does have points about the criminalizing of polygamous thought as well as the denial of polygamous marriages.

Consenting adults should be able to marry, whether it is two women, or a man with two women, or four men and three women. Love is love, and not everyone loves or lives the same way.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Wisconsin Man Being Prosecuted For Consensual Adult Sex

He’s being charged under incest law for having consensual consanguineous sex with his adult sister.

The 25-year-old man from Blue River was charged Friday with incest. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 12.5 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

While there is no mention of charges against his sister, there is no indication in the article that their relationship was anything but consensual and he’s not being charged with assault or rape. So why is there a criminal case?

The criminal complaint says the man and his sister had repeated sexual contact between July 4 and Dec. 15, 2009.

Sounds like a loving relationship.

The complaint doesn't list the sister's age but Grant County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Kopp says she's an adult.

So, Sheriff Kopp, why bother interfering?

The complaint says the man told investigators his sister was the aggressor. He also told investigators his sister filed court documents identifying him as the father of a child she had in February.

Over twelve years in prison for this relationship? Not only should he not be prosecuted, but he should be encouraged to marry his sister. Doesn’t their child deserve married parents? Another example of how a lack of marriage equality has real harms. This issue isn't just about symbols and words. It is about real people and real love.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Malaysia Needs Marriage Equality

Someone was sentenced to a month in jail in Malaysia for getting married. Can you believe it?

A Muslim lawmaker from Malaysia's ruling coalition was sentenced to a month in jail for polygamy on Wednesday after he married an actress without permission from a religious court.

Bung Mokhtar Radin, 50, a leading figure in the Barisan Nasional coalition, and his second wife, Zizie Ezette A. Samad, 31, both pleaded guilty to polygamy last month.

Muslim men in Malaysia are allowed up to four wives, but in certain parts of the country they must obtain written court consent or risk a fine or jail term under Sharia religious law.

Ridiculous. Everyone should be able to freely marry. It should be up to them, and nobody else.

Judge Wan Mahyuddin Wan Muhammad was cited by the official Bernama news agency Wednesday as saying that Bung's "offence should be dealt with severely."

Shame on Judge Wan Mahyuddin Wan Muhammad.

Zizie agreed to pay a 1,000 ringgit (S$430) fine for marrying Bung without court consent.

Activists and women's groups say polygamy is cruel and has deviated from its original purpose in Islam, which was to protect widows and orphans.

This is ignorance. Marriage is about love.

More than 60 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people are Muslim Malays, and polygamy is illegal for non-Muslims.

Everyone should have the freedom to marry.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Thrown at Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza

It was bad enough that they were arrested and convicted in the first place, but now the Malawian court has completed the idiocy by giving Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza the maximum fourteen years in prison for the “crime” of loving each other. It is disgusting that gay men are still being treated this way anywhere in the world.

Shame on magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa and shame on Malawi.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Praise For Portugal

Good news. Portugal is taking a step towards marriage equality.

Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva says he will sign a law legalising same-sex marriage passed by parliament earlier this year.

The law had been fiercely opposed by conservatives in the Catholic country.

The ratification will make Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage after Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Now, Portugal needs to move forward and legalize marriage for three or more, and consanguineous marriage. The country has no laws against consanguineous sex, but hasn’t reached marriage equality in that area, either. One step forward towards full marriage equality – let’s keep it going.
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Malawi Needs the Freedom to Marry

One reason I argue for full marriage equality and equality in personal relations is that denial of freedom in one way often contributes to denial in freedom other ways. I’ve already pointed out that Malawi is moving to eliminate polygamy. Now there’s this story from the same country.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner Steven Monjeza, 26, were arrested the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked — an apparent first in Malawi.

And now a judge has convicted these two men of “crimes.”

The couple were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indecency under laws dating from the colonial era.

How can it be unnatural for two grown people to love each other? They could be sentenced up to fourteen years in prison.

These two men should be allowed to marry. Anyone should be allowed to marry the consenting partner(s) of their choosing. It is time for people to get with it and stop imposing their hatred and ignorance on others.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's All Marriage

Sometimes, in the right circumstances, big changes can happen quickly. But it looks like we have a long way to go to reach full marriage equality. I found something on a polyamory site that reminded me of that. The question is, “Should gay marriage be recognized?”

Of course it should. It is, in some places. The other places just need to catch up. Two men should be able to get married, and so should three women.

With gay marriage comes employers paying for spouses healthcare and things like that as well.

Yes, like they do with straights.

If this happens do you think couples who practice Polyamory, groups of several men and women will want those same rights? And is it fair to make an employer pay for his employees 3 husbands and 2 wives?

Why not? Everyone would be free to have multiple spouses. I can think of three possible ways of handling this. Maybe you know of others? 1. Extend coverage to all spouses – most of those spouses will have their own jobs, though, and can be covered there. 2. Have a limit for everyone on the number of spouses covered. 3. Have the government provide the benefits so that it is no longer the employer’s issue.

We shouldn’t be fighting over who gets to be married. Leave it up to the people who want to get married, and if you don’t like their marriage, you don’t have to be a part of it. It’s that simple. That there would have to be changes in employment policies is a rather weak reason to deny someone the freedom to marry.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Drop Laws Against Consanguineous Sex

Yesterday, I wrote about how a law against consanguineous sex was being superfluously used against someone who should be in enough trouble based on serious crime.

In Idaho, as part of a plea agreement, an incest charge was dropped against a rapist. It would be better if the law was wiped off the books, but at least it wasn’t used in a situation where the real problem was rape, not the consanguineous nature of the activity.

According to this article, Matthew J. Honeycutt pled guilty to raping his adult biological daughter.

Although Honeycutt is the woman’s biological father, she had had no contact with him from the age of 1 until reuniting with him approximately a year before the incident.

The woman, who lived in the upstairs portion of Honeycutt’s home, describing how she had asked him to help her move furniture and then assumed he had gone back downstairs. She said as she prepared for bed, Honeycutt came into her room and pinned her to the bed and sexually assaulted her.

“I’m scared that if he does get out (of prison) ... he’ll be able to do this to me again,” she said.

Child abuse, and in this case, rape of an adult, should already be prosecuted as serious crimes. No harmful incest happens that is not also child abuse or sexual assault/rape. We don’t need incest laws, which can interfere with consensual sex. Incest laws are barriers to reaching marriage equality.

It is sad that this woman reunited with her biological parent, only to have that parent commit a violent crime against her. It is too bad her experience couldn’t have been more like that of Matthew or Melissa, in which reuniting with their biological parent ended up being better than they could have imagmined.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Superfluous Prosecution of Consensual Sex

Here is an example of using unjust laws against consanguineous sex to superfluously punish someone. If someone like this Palm Coast, Florida man, Alton E. Smith, abuses children, then he should have the book thrown at him for doing so. He should get at least fifteen years in prison for abusing children. But why prosecute him for sex with a consenting adult? If the laws can be used against him, they can be used against anyone. The charges stem from his relationship with his adult daughter.

Alton E. Smith, 47, pleaded guilty to two counts of incest, one count of living off the earnings of prostitution and 52 counts of possession of child pornography. In addition to the 15-year prison sentence, Smith is expected to be placed on 15 years sex offender probation and be required to register as a sex offender, according to the plea agreement. He is also barred from having contact with his daughter or wife.

Unless he abused his wife and daughter and they requested protection, how can they justify barring contact?

Smith's plea brings closer to conclusion the sordid situation revealed by a Flagler County Sheriff's Office prostitution sting on Carlos Court in Palm Coast in December 2008.

Isn’t it time to decriminalize prostitution? Sure, go after abusive pimps for assault, threats, whatever, but consenting exchanges between adults are nobody else’s business.

Today's sentencing will leave only Alton Smith's daughter's case unresolved. His daughter is charged with three counts of incest, child neglect and prostitution.

If she neglected her child, then fine - she should be punished. But the incest and prostitution charges are ridiculous.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Former Vancouver Police Officer Sentenced

Here’s an update on criminal case from Canada in which a man had sex with his sister. He was sentenced to a year of house arrest. He plead guilty to a charge of incest, but not sexual assault.

The officer was given two years' probation, is ordered against taking drugs and alcohol and must remain in his home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The officer was banned from directly contacting his sister, and must submit a DNA sample to the national sex offender registry.

This all seems too harsh for something that should have been handled between family members. It doesn’t sound like he assaulted her. From the previous coverage, it sounds like they were both drunk and had sex without her giving sober encouragement.

The court heard a victim impact statement, that the sister’s family life has fallen apart since the crime.

Of course it has, when we shame people for natural, private behavior. If we’re going to continue to criminalize this behavior based on it being consanguineous, it is going to be hard to reach marriage equality.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Malawi May Reduce Freedom to Marry

Another country is preparing to deny more people the right to marry.

The Malawian government has formulated a bill that seeks to ban polygamy. The Ministry of Gender, Child Development and Community Services says the Marriages, Divorce and Family Values bill is meant to protect women and children against “abusive polygamous husbands”.

How about protecting people against abusers? Polygamy doesn’t equal abuse.

The bill proposes that those found to be in polygamous unions be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to five years.

This is oppressive. They are going in the wrong direction. They need to increase the freedom to marry until there is marriage equality, not reduce the freedom to marry. Everyone should be able to marry, regardless of race, sexual orientation, how many people want to be married, or whether or not they are related by blood.

Gender, Child Development and Community Services minister Patricia Kaliati said the bill was intended to enhance family values, adding that it was impossible for a man to share equal love among three or four women.

How would she know that? It is possible for each person to get what they need if they are allowed. It is up to the participants to decide what they want, not someone else. Hate and bigotry are not family values.
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Scottish Man Jailed For Two Years For Consanguineous Sex

There’s more news about a case I wrote about before – see here. The father is being jailed for two years for having sex with his adult daughter. He was a widower, and her marriage was over. Why is this a crime? Why shouldn’t they be allowed and encouraged to marry so that the children can have an intact family?

He was able to exploit the fact that his daughter, who is now 46, suffered from "mild learning difficulties"

Someone with learning disabilities isn’t able to consent or decline consent? That’s going to put a lot of people at risk for prosecution.

Jailing the dad - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - at the High Court in Edinburgh, Judge Lord Woolman said he was taking into account the fact that no force was used.

No force was used. Yet he's going to jail.

Today, defence advocate Shahid Latif, asking for leniency, said the man was genuinely ashamed and remorseful. He had never been in trouble before and had pleaded guilty to the charges as early as possible to prevent a trial.

He has nothing of which to be ashamed. I’m ashamed there are laws that interfere with love.

Lord Woolman told the man: "You did not use force. The children think of you as their father and you daughter will be upset if you go to prison."

So why jail him?

Someday, future generations are going to look back and wonder what the big deal was.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oppression in Zimbabwe

The Herald reports from Zimbabwe that two consenting adults were convicted of a crime for loving each other.

A Mt Darwin brother and sister were last week ordered to perform 260 hours of community service after engaging in an incestuous relationship that culminated in a pregnancy.

Yeukai Semene (23) and his sister Rumbidzai Nyamhanza (19) were found guilty of having sexual intercourse "within a prohibited degree of relationship".

That should not be a crime.

The two were sentenced to 12 months in jail, but four months were suspended on condition that they do not commit a similar offence within the next five years.

The other eight months were suspended on condition that the pair completes 260 hours of community service at Dotito Clinic and Kadohwata Primary School.

It turns out they are half-siblings and first cousins.

Their mothers are biological sisters who were married to a bigamist.

Their family turned them in. So I guess bigamy involving two sisters is okay by them, but love between half-siblings is not? Love is love. Enough with the bigotry.
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Defending Pearl Carter and Phil Bailey

An anonymous commenter wrote in response to my post on Pearl Carter and Phil Bailey. Writing May 1, 2010 4:23 PM:

really....of all the things I can tolerate, this is just not one of them. If that offends anyone here, I'm sorry you feel that way. Please take a look at history. Specifically, please look at the line of Egypt's Pharaohs. Look at what happened to they physically due to constant intermarriage. This is really not ok. Medical science has proven how bad this can be genetically. That's a good portion of the reason it should never be allowed.

First of all, Pearl and Phil not having children together biologically. They are using a surrogate.

More importantly, though, is that someone’s genes and love life are nobody else’s business. Whether or not someone has children with someone else is nobody else’s business. Ever hear of privacy and reproductive rights?

One couple does not make “constant intermarriage.”

Finally, plenty of children have been born from genetically closer relationships without significant problems. On the other hand, there are children born with problems whose parents were not close closely related. It isn’t your business.

Again, I say congratulations to Pearl Carter and Phil Bailey for finding love with each other and for not being afraid to speak up. Maybe it will help advance marriage equality, especially when more people get to know you.
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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Father Persecuted for Belief in Polygamy

From the Salt Lake Tribune comes a story by Brooke Adams about a father who is being discriminated against.

Joseph Compton doesn't like the label "Fundamentalist Mormon." Instead, he prefers to describe himself as believing in "the gospel like Joseph Smith originally wrote it," which includes the religious tenet of plural marriage.

But that belief has put him outside the law, 4th District Judge Donald J. Eyre said in a ruling last fall that gave Kathleen Compton temporary custody of the couple's four minor children, who range in age from 5 to 16. They also have four adult children.

Eyre ordered Joseph Compton, 49, to not "discuss polygamy or plural marriage with the minor children, allow the children to be in close proximity to those [other than himself] who practice polygamy or plural marriage or who aid or abet those who do."

Eyre also barred Compton, a farmer, from taking the children within the incorporated boundaries of Rocky Ridge, a community located in Juab County. Many residents of the community are fundamentalists who practice plural marriage.

Outrageous. I’m glad he’s fighting this, and speaking up about it.

"You first have to come at this with the understanding that bigamy is a felony, and if you know anything about Rocky Ridge you'll understand that it is a well-known haven for bigamists," he said. "Polygamy is a felony and it is in the best interest of children to keep them away from that kind of conduct."

Keep the children away because it is against the law. But why it is against the law? Bigotry. I’m so glad younger generations embrace marriage equality. But we can’t wait. We need marriage equality now.
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