Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Leave or Learn to Live Without

Felicity at Pondering Polyamory spells it out.

Trying to be polyamorous, or have an open marriage, when your spouse hates it, and feels like she has NO WAY OUT because of small children and finances, is emotional abuse, pure and simple. (Even though she has a way out even if she is too scared to see it. There is always a way out.)

You either don’t do it, or you separate from that person so you can live the life *you* want to live.

Either of those options is honorable.

Staying married and doing it anyway while your spouse hates it, is wrong.

She’s right.

People should enter into to commitments such as marriage with clear understandings of the relationship. If two people are committing to each other, will they be monogamous? Will they be sharing a third person or a series of third persons – at the same time or separately? Will one of them only have sex within the commitment but the other will also have sex with others – and under what conditions? It is important to have understandings.

However, even with understandings, people grow and change over time and circumstances change. Someone who agreed to monogamy may later discover that they are more suited to polyamory, or vice-versa. As painful as it can be, the right thing to do is to discuss the desire to change what the conditions of their relationship are. If the other person doesn’t want a change, then the person who does should either stick to the existing agreement, or leave. In the happiest of situations, the other person will agree to the change and find it to be a good one.

Violating the agreement is wrong and destructive. In this respect, openly polyamorous people show better character than people who carry on a pretense of being monogamous, but are not. Those who claim to want to protect the sanctity of marriage actually work against that when they point with one finger to polyamorous people as committing adultery while with the other hand preventing them from having more than one spouse.
— — —

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CPAA Has a Good FAQ

The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, which is helping the lead the march towards full marriage equality, has a great FAQ about their litigation effort.

What is the litigation about?

The Attorney General of BC has asked the court to decide whether section 293 of the Criminal Code, Canada’s so-called “polygamy law”, is constitutional. S. 293 prescribes criminal penalties for all multi-person conjugal relationships, not just for formal marriages.

S. 293 subjects polyamorists to imprisonment for living together in committed relationships. We believe that the section breaches fundamental guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and so do many independent lawyers and legal scholars.

It violates the basic human rights to love, sex, and marriage.

If you win, will polygamy be legal in Canada? Will multiple marriages be recognized?

Removing section 293 will not change Canada’s definition of marriage or cause multiple marriages to be recognized. Adults living together in committed relationships just won’t be subject to imprisonment simply for having multiple partners.

It will also be easier to get the freedom to marry if criminalization is removed.

Is s. 293 or the court case about sex?

Section 293 isn’t about sex. As far as the law is concerned, Canadians can have sex with as many people as they like… as long as they don’t try to act married. We’re criminalized only when we form committed families.

And that’s wrong. People should be free not only to enjoy sex with each other but to live together if that is what they want, and, if they want, to be married.
— — —

Monday, June 28, 2010

Incest is Icky, Except When She Likes It

Maura Kelly at wrote earlier this month an article called “Innocent Sibling Incest: Is It Really So Bad?” That title seems to imply it is at least a little bad. How could innocent, mutually enjoyable behavior between siblings be bad at all? She writes about an Irish couple who are half siblings who didn’t find out they shared their biological father until after they fell for each other and had a baby.

The couple's mutual father is having a hard time with the whole thing, and plenty of other people think it's gross, too.

Anyone who doesn’t like it doesn’t have to participate. Though they may have latent tendencies they are trying to hide.

My reaction: What's the big deal?

Good question.

As Yale psychologist Paul Bloom writes in his new book How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, the "evolutionary rationale for incest avoidance is that it is a bad idea, genetically, to have children with your kin, because they share too many of your genes." In other words, we've developed a sense of disgust about sibling incest because it could lead to deformed babies.

But in this case, the couple already had a baby before finding out they were related.

Everything seems to be fine. Isn’t that wonderful? Kelly goes on to write about the Westermarck effect, without naming it.

In fact, a study done in 2007 found that the longer you live with a sibling (or an adopted sibling or someone sibling-like), the more sexual aversion you will have to him or her.

Some would complain this happens between spouses, too. Kelly, unfortunately, still expresses bigotry:

Now, in case it needs to be said, I understand that incest involving a parent or even a parental figure is an evil, evil thing.

How, if they are consenting adults?

The idea of two siblings or half-siblings who grew up together having sex makes me shudder.

Then don’t do it. But how would you feel if people were constantly printing articles about how disgusting they found something you enjoy?

But in the case of these two people, I really don't think it's a big deal. They're basically strangers. They came out of different mothers. They happen to share some genetic material. So what? I don't think it's morally wrong for them to be together. In fact, considering they have a kid together — and they love each other — I'd say that the morally right thing is staying together.

Kelly is trying to have her cake and eat it too, it looks like to me.

Sure, it's important to have a strong social taboo against incest. All the same, we're smart people. Shouldn't we be able to see that a case like this is different?

We should stop trying to prevent any consenting adults from sharing love, sex, and marriage with each other. How about that?
— — —

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Partial Step Forward

The European Court of Human rights has issued a ruling that the pessimist in me sees as unjust - that countries do not have to allow same-sex couples to marry. The optimist in my notes that the court sees that there should at least be recognition of such relationships.

We have to keep fighting until any consenting adult can marry any other consenting adult(s).
— — —

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Muslim Polygyny

One explanation of Muslim polygamy can be found at this blog by SirAj. It’s always polygyny, with men limited to having up to four wives at a time; the wives are never considered married to each other (same-sex marriages are not recognized). It isn’t considered a group marriage.

The Qur'an states that you shall marry only up to four women: "If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or that which your right hands possess..." (4:3).

I would like Muslims, like anyone else, to have a right to practice marriage in this way everywhere in the world; if someone wants to live this way, they should be allowed. Unlike the limit of four wives for a man and one husband for a wife, my proposed marriage equality amendment would allow a man or woman to marry as many consenting people as they want. That isn’t incompatible with the limits Muslims adhere to in their practice of their own religion.
— — —

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Swiss Court Ruling is Full of Holes

Switzerland still hasn’t granted same-sex couples full marriage equality, and it continues to practice harsher bigotry towards the polyamorous and consanguineous. A Turkish man was denied Swiss citizenship back in May because he was married to more than one woman.

The man became a naturalized Swiss citizen due to his 26-year marriage to a Swiss woman.

But when it came known that he was also married to a woman in Turkey, whom he visited four times a year, the Federal Office for Migration canceled his citizenship status.

This is unfair.

His Swiss wife also was unaware of his Turkish wife.

That is a problem. He should have been open with her. But that is a matter between them and nobody else’s business.

The Federal Court upheld the ruling today, saying naturalization by marriage requires mutual monogamy.

So someone who wants more than one spouse need not apply for citizenship. Why the hate?
— — —

Monday, June 21, 2010

Update on Wisconsin Case

Here’s an update on a story I wrote about before, in which a man was criminally charged in Wisconsin for consensual sex with an adult woman: his sister. She is now being charged with incest as well.

If convicted, the woman may be fined up to $25,000 and a maximum penalty of 12.5 years in prison.

Sigh. There are a few states in the US that would not take this ridiculous action. None should.

It should not be a crime to for consenting adults to have sex in private. If it isn’t your thing to have sex with someone of the same sex or someone closely related to you, then don’t. But how can someone not only deny someone else the freedom to marry, but the right to sex?
— — —

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Help For Consanguineous Lovers

With all of the prejudice, bigotry, and persecution faced by cousins, siblings, and adult children and parents and other relatives in what most people call incestuous relationships, it can be great to find support. Some online services are cluttered with porn. One place I have found recently is this one: [UPDATED URL]

I plan to contribute to discussions there. However, I will likely not be writing there or here for the next few days, because I will be otherwise occupied. I plan to get back into the swing of things next week, though. So check back and be sure to check through our archives here.
— — —

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Marriage Rights For Same-Sex Couples

In California, it is possible that a federal judge will strike down a ban preventing same-sex couples from marrying. The trial is resuming. Let’s demand the judge strengthens the right to marriage in a way that knocks down other laws in addition Proposition 8, so that other people who are currently prevented from marrying will have their freedom. If not, I hope he will at least knock down "Prop H8." The bigots would appeal to a higher court, but it would be a start.

Referring to the federal prohibition on recognizing same-sex marriages, Walker asked the plaintiffs bluntly, ''Can the court find Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional without also considering the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act?''

It would be great if DOMA could be struck down, too.

The question is particularly relevant nearly 3,000 miles away, where another federal trial court judge – U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro – is directly considering whether a portion of DOMA is constitutional in a challenge brought by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in Boston.

One way or another, we’ll advance marriage equality in the US, the way we advanced rights for people of color.

In Germany, a court recognized a Canadian marriage between two men, but unfortunately they will only call it a civil partnership.

Andreas Boettcher, a 37-year-old German event manager, married his Spanish partner, a dancer and choreographer, in Montreal in July 2006. He asked a Berlin administrative court to recognize the relationship as a marriage after local authorities listed him as "single" on his registration card in November, despite his Canadian marriage certificate and a family registry entry from Spain that names him as the husband of his partner.

The best news comes from Iceland, where same-sex couples got marriage rights on Friday.

Unfortunately, in all three places, laws against marrying more than one person and against consanguineous marriage are still in effect.
— — —

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bookwitch Reviews Tabitha Suzuma's Forbidden

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma centers around a sibling couple. I haven't read it yet, but according to reviews, including this one by Bookwitch, the novel is sympathetic to the siblings.

But I just knew that however positive a novel Forbidden might be, it just couldn’t end well. And that’s a problem.

It doesn’t end well. No spoiler there. You just couldn’t end with a happily-ever-after incestuous relationship, however much you’d want to.

Why not? It happens in life. Books worth reading could also be written about such relationships, especially chronicling how they struggle with prejudice.

It made me think of inter-racial relationships not so very long ago. They weren’t just frowned on; they were illegal. That has changed. Could this change too?

Let's hope so and work to make it happen.

The comments left after Bookwitch’s review are worth reading, too.
— — —

Saturday, June 12, 2010

CPAA Challenges Unjust Law

The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association is helping to challenge law that discriminates against polyamorous people. The Vancouver Sun’s Daphne Bramham has extensive coverage.

Maridas explained all of this in an affidavit filed Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court. It was one of six filed by the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, which is intervening in the case to determine whether the anti-polygamy law is valid.

While others -- such as Surreybased Wiccan priest Sam Wagar, who also filed an affidavit Tuesday -- contend that they have a religious right to practise polygamy, the polyamorists say that for them it's a matter of freedom of expression.

And what they have to say in their affidavits about how they live offers a glimpse of just how far some Canadian families diverge from the tradition of Mom-Dad-kids or the more recent "traditional" families of two Moms or two Dads and kids.

And this peek behind normally closed bedroom doors is a hint of what's to come in November, when Chief Justice Robert Bauman begins hearing the case.

Let’s hope the court makes the fair decision.

In their sworn statements, all of the polyamorists said they've told close friends and family know of their arrangement, but they've not shared it widely out of concern that they might be ostracized or lose their jobs.

Bashinski, a 47-year-old American who works for a technology company, was the most open about his fears concerning the anti-polygamy law and its impact if the chief justice rules that it is constitutional and the law is subsequently enforced. Bashinski worries that Kaia might be taken away by child-protection authorities. He fears prosecution, conviction and punishment.

He also fears the prospect of being denied permanent residency in Canada. And in saying that, Bashinski raises the question fundamental to this court case: What kind of country do Canadians want?

People shouldn’t have to live in fear because of the people they love.

Follow the link to read the affidavits.
— — —

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Follow Up: Adults Jailed For Private Consensual Sex

A couple in Scotland is being sent to jail for sixteen months because they have sex with each other. Maybe some day, the authorities there will realize it is the 21st century. Billy Paterson reports on this unjust action.

Stephen Paterson, 44, and Kirsty Paterson, 26, became infatuated with each other after she turned up on his doorstep in Girvan two years ago.

Until then, he never knew she existed.

Even after they appeared in court on incest charges, the pair breached bail conditions to have sex in a B&B in Ayr.

They’re not only consenting, they’re in love. This is a victimless crime. Well, almost.

Paterson and his daughter began to form a relationship which his wife, Rosemary Alcroft, felt "uncomfortable" with.

Gale Harding, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing at Ayr Sheriff Court: "Rosemary Alcroft was the account holder for both her and her husband's mobile phone.

"On June 7, 2009, she uncovered messages between Stephen Paterson and his daughter."

She said the messages indicated that the father and daughter "were engaged in a sexual relationship".

Like I wrote before, it is good to have understandings and not go behind someone else’s back.

They were released on bail with the condition that they did not approach or contact each other.

But on June 30 a neighbour of Paterson's who knew about the case saw the pair together in Prestwick - and contacted police.

Can you imagine calling the police because you saw two adults together? It’s not like they have conspired to engage in violence or theft or racketeering. Some people are cruel.

Robert Campbell, defending Kirsty, said: "She felt her father was very proud of her and for the first time she felt loved by someone and grew close to her father emotionally."

Sheriff Cunningham told the pair: "The gravity of this case is such that a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal."

Shame on Sheriff Cunningham. Kristy finally found love, and she is being forced away from it.

This news report goes so far as to call Stephen a pervert and refers to their love as “sordid.” That’s nothing more than bigotry. Leave them alone. Let them marry if they so choose. Whether or not they are experiencing Genetic Sexual Attraction is nobody else's business.

But Scottish authorities and media have reacted this way before, as you can see in what I wrote about another couple.
— — —

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Have Understandings

We should not allow same-sex, consanguineous, or polyamorous love to be tied to deception, betrayal, or abuse. We need to call people on it when they do it unfairly, but we also need to live in a way that doesn’t give bigots the excuse to continue denying equality. That means being open with our loved ones about who we are and what we need.

I believe in partners being open. If you want to be monogamous and you want your partner to be monogamous, you should find someone who wants that life. If you want to get married to one person or two persons, but have secondaries you don’t marry, and everyone agrees, then that should be supported. If you agree to talk about everything or talk about nothing that happens with others, then stick to that.

If you change your mind or discover something new about yourself that changes the situation, you should discuss that so that everyone can decide what to do going forward.

In the case of someone who wrote a letter to an advice columnist, a married woman has fallen in love with another man, but still loves her husband, but her husband doesn’t know. The new man is her brother.

Things seemed to melt away as my brother massaged my back. I felt an onrush of relief which soon turned into something more sensual. My brother wasn't responsible for what happened next, and did not take advantage of me, although he did go along with it. I remember feeling closer to him than I ever did with my husband, whom I love dearly and on whom I have never cheated.

I asked my brother to take off my bra and then my knickers, the sex was prolonged, deliberate and extremely satisfying. We talked openly about it the following morning, had no regrets, but agreed it simply should not happen again.

People should not go behind the back of a spouse when there is an expectation of monogamy or some other form of polyamory. They should have had a regret: that neither of them discussed this with their spouses before going ahead. But to be fair, it was unexpected. It was a moment of discovery for her, and perhaps for him.

I find it appalling that I committed incest with my brother, I have confessed the sin, and was helped by a very understanding priest. Yet the experience has given me a sort of erotic charge and a sense of personal self-confidence that I feel is wrong.

When we embraced last Christmas at a family get-together it was in a normal brother/sister fashion, but I found it sexually exciting. If I know he'll be present on any occasion, I put on my best clothes and even wear fancy lingerie, though I have not the slightest intention, or expectation, of any physical contact.

The poor woman appears to be conflicted more because of societal prejudice against consanguineous love than she is about going behind her husband’s and sister-in-law’s backs. The former shouldn’t trouble her. The latter is where the real issue sits.

Her love for her husband has increased, not diminished. If the same thing has happened to her brother’s love for his wife, then they are all benefitting, especially since she loves her brother more than she did before. It would be great if they could all discuss the matter like mature adults and come to some understanding. She enjoyed sex with her brother, and if everyone is agreeable, why deny her?
— — —

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Happy Day in Portugal

I mentioned earlier about the progress being made in Portugal. Their move towards marriage equality became real today, with the marriage of Helena Paixao and Teresa Pires. Congrats to them! Let's hope that Portugal continues towards full marriage equality and that other countries do, too.
— — —

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Polygamy Unfairly Blamed

Someone is actually blaming polygamy for the spread of HIV.

The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) has described polygamous relationships as a key contributor in the spread of the deadly HIV-AIDS pandemic in southern Africa.

Someone who isn’t HIV+ will not infect other people, no matter how many spouses that person has. HIV+ people engaging in unprotected sex spread HIV, not polygamy.

Meanwhile, a UN study, which was released during 2008 on the Kingdom of Swaziland, has also concluded that practices like polygamy and promiscuity are driving rampant HIV-AIDS in the tiny mountain kingdom where nearly 40 percent of adults are infected with the virus.

Promiscuity should not be lumped together with polygamy.

Swaziland's absolute monarch King Mwasti III has thirteen wives and polygamy is widely practiced in the kingdom. The impoverished mountainous kingdom has been particularly badly hit by southern Africa's AIDS pandemic. South African President Jacob Zuma is also a polygamist.

Namibia’s HIV-AIDS infection rate ranges between 19 and 22 percent.

That is terrible, but polygamy shouldn’t be blamed.
— — —

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Being Polyamorous Doesn’t Mean A Lack of Standards

Polyamory Paradigm had a great discussion about certain misperceptions about polyamorous people.

If you are Polyamorous you have probably had a conversation with someone who thought Poly meant you slept around with whomever you wanted. Maybe they confused Polygamy or Swing with Polyamory.

Not all polyamorous people are swingers. Other examples are given.

This person knows you are Poly and able to start a new relationship basically anytime you like. But like the second example above, they don't understand why someone who is completely available to having a relationship wouldn't be interested in having one with them. Again the result is often some form of hostility.

Nobody likes being rejected. But people need to understand that just because someone is with more than one person doesn’t mean they want to be with any person. It is the same as with monogamous people who are not in a relationship. Very few enter into a relationship with anyone who asks.

In many ways Poly people are no different from anyone else. They aren't going to be attracted to anyone and everyone. And despite the fact they are very possibly available for a relationship that doesn't mean they will have one with anyone and everyone.

— — —

Friday, June 4, 2010

GSA Cure?

Here’s a story out of Australia about Genetic Sexual Attraction that provides an example of what's wrong with coverage of the issue.

Australian couples in sexual relationships with family members are so terrified of being charged with incest they are using online forums to seek help, a leading psychotherapist has told ninemsn.

Many others who aren't in relationships but who feel sexual impulses toward their siblings, mothers or fathers, are also turning to chat rooms for support.

Society needs to let people make their own decisions about their sexuality.

Melbourne-based psychotherapist Gabby Howse told ninemsn GSA sufferers were reaching out online in the hopes of discovering they weren't alone.

The reporter repeatedly uses the word “suffer” in referring to people with GSA, as if they need to be cured of some problem, but the only suffering I see described in the article has to do with prejudice on the part of others. If people weren't so judgmental or bigoted, their family members and neighbors could be true to themselves and enjoy their sexuality.
— — —

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Irish Brother and Sister Find Love, Make a Family

In a possible case of Genetic Sexual Attraction, a man and woman met, fell in love, and had a child, and then discovered that they have the same biological father. The Daily Mail printed their story.

The extraordinary discovery was confirmed by DNA testing just last month. It has left the couple stunned and shaken – but they are nonetheless vowing to stay together and have more children.

Good for them! Hopefully, the law and community will celebrate and encourage them, rather than attack and oppress them. Laws are on the books that could be used to persecute them.

They have asked that their son be referred to as Mark; James’s mother as Carmel, and his stepfather as Vincent. The name ‘Tom’ is given to the man who, it turns out, fathered both James and Maura.

They’re afraid that their children may be attacked by peers. This is why acceptance of all families needs to be taught.

Carmel had met Tom on a night out during the 1980s. She was 19. They dated for the next four to five weeks but the romance soon fizzled out and they went their separate ways.

But they did sleep together – and during her month-long relationship with Tom, Carmel became pregnant with James.

However, she didn’t tell Tom that she was expecting his child and, by the time James was born, she was already involved in a relationship with Vincent. So it was Vincent who was named as James’s father on his birth certificate.

The child James and Maura already have is apparently healthy. There is no reason to deny them, or anyone else, marriage equality.

But you see that there is bigotry out there.
Everyone would be fine if we didn’t attack people for loving each other. How dare anyone talk about splitting them up? If it weren't for the intrusion of rudeness of others, there would be no issue here, other than what the article discusses: whose names should be on birth records.
— — —

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Persecuted Love in Zimbabwe

Adult siblings in Zimbabwe are being persecuted for their consensual relationship.

Yeukai Semeni Nyamhanza (23) and his sister Rumbidzai (19) — who is now five months pregnant — are performing community service at Dotito Clinic and Kadohwata Primary School respectively.

That is her brother’s child she is expecting.

They are staying with an uncle in Dotito following the death of their father while their mother is in Guruve.

They have already lost family. They are relying on each other.

"It was on Christmas Eve when I proposed love to her. The two of us were in the kitchen hut chatting when I suddenly decided to propose love to her. I just told her I loved her and she accepted my proposal," Yeukai said.

What could be more beautiful? Love blossoming on Christmas Eve.

Asked if he was going to call the baby his son/daughter or nephew/niece, Yeukai could not answer.

"Inga ndataura wani? Ndinzwirei tsitsi varume ndiri kupazama nayo nyaya iyi. (Haven’t I told you enough? Feel pity for me, I am tormented)," he said.

Yeukai said his uncle was furious when he found out what was happening.

"He said the whole family was now a disgrace in the community. Truly, I do not understand how I ended myself in this mess," he said.

It is too bad that others can’t be supportive and that anyone would be made to feel lesser because of the person they love. Wouldn’t the best thing for everyone involved, especially the child, be to celebrate their love and support them in marriage? Superstition should not hold back the freedom to marry.
— — —

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza Pardoned, Released

Malawi’s President has done the right thing in pardoning and releasing Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, but did the wrong thing in reinforcing the criminalization of gay and lesbian love.

In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also praised the move, urging an end to "the persecution and criminalization" of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gibbs is right to say that, but the USA also has a long way to go in marriage equality and sexual freedom.

Malawi is among 37 African countries with anti-gay laws.

In Senegal, police have rounded up men suspected of being homosexual and beaten them, and a mob last year pulled the corpse of a gay man from his grave, spat on it and dumped it at the home of his elderly parents.

In Zimbabwe this month, two employees of a gay organization spent six days in jail on allegations of possessing indecent material and insulting President Robert Mugabe, an outspoken critic of homosexuality.

In Uganda, a proposed law would impose the death penalty for some gays.

Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, lesbians have been gang-raped.

It is all atrocious. People should be allowed to love others and marry others without others deciding for them, and they should be protected from rape and assault.
— — —