Saturday, May 9, 2009

Open Forum: Group Marriage - The Next Civil Rights Fight?

Opponents of same-sex marriage, argue that their biggest fear is the inevitability of polygamy and group marriage if gay marriage measures are enacted. They argue that allowing same-sex marriage is a slippery slope because once we sidetrack from the "traditional definition" of marriage as being the union between one man and one woman, that the institution of marriage will effectively have a loophole allowing polygamists to argue for their rights.

There is a growing movement among progressives and within the queer community to accept polyamory and group relationships, which are not to confused with polygamy. There are a number of families in the formation of a triad or quad, etc who all love one another and are in a committed relationship, and are indeed a family unit. Many of these polyamorous families also raise children, and it could be argued that those kids will grow up in a better environment, having access to multiple loving and nurturing parents.

Do you think the fight for recognition of plural marriage is the next civil rights battle? Will poly families naturally be next in line after we legalize same-sex marriages nationwide, and do they have a legitimate case?

22 comments:

phreddd said...

As someone who has been in a triad - and who figured that my coming out as gay saved me from the banality of marriage - I admit that my mostly positive and productive history with polyamory is why I tend to yawn at discussions of same-sex monogamous marriage. However, the dialogues since Prop 8 have reconnected me with the understanding that one group's freedom can - in fact, is SUPPOSED TO - open doors for others.

Queers United said...

I think it will open the door but will take time.

Queers United said...

People are just getting comfy with same-sex couples, it will take more time for them to see other alt families in the same light.

marie said...

Frankly, I've been in a poly relationship, and I would like to find another -- eventually. Where we got this idea that one person was going to fit all of our needs -- beats me? No, I am not for these men who marry children -- but that is illegal already -- and they should be in prision. But, what adults do wiht other concenting adults is fine.

Christian said...

I don't think the LGBT community should get involved in the fight for Polygamous marriage... at least not yet. the objective right now is to get equal marriage to every monogamous couple and if we don't focus on that principle the far right will have a second reason to fight against us. The LGBT community has been educating everyone why extending marriage to Gay and Lesbian couples does not destroy opposite-sex marriage. However if the LGBT community where to get involved with the fight for polygamous marriage we would need to educate explain something else. It's not that I'm against polygamous or group marriage; I'm not even concerned about it. But thinking about strategy, I think we better focus on our rights for now.

Queers United said...

absolutely marie, it must always be among consensual adults only. I personally am monogamous, but I don't see why anyone cares if someone falls in love with 2 or 3 other people and wants to raise a family. Good for them for having the capacity and willpower to love more.

Queers United said...

Christian I think group marriage is out of the question right now, it won't be given any legitimate debate in the eyes of the public and will only hurt the cause for same-sex marriage. But, I do think down the line it will become a legit debate. I also think just as we educate that same-sex marriage won't destroy the fabric of society, neither will allowing multiple loving partners to marry. How the legal stuff is worked out though is what confuses me.

Kevin said...

The only issue that this group has is not with Polygamy. It is with themselves. Because the country is starting to see that it is time to grow-up and become a nation of equals. The polygamy laws are put in place because it is a government issue for financial and protection issues.

jadedjabber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jadedjabber said...

My friends and I talk about this quite a bit. Yes, I think this is obviously where things are going.

What I struggle with is where I should spend my energy. Denominations are struggling to get the rights for LGB (technically T can be ordained though still faces oppression) ordination and marriage, with the focus really being on ordination. The movement is fractured. One group wanting to focus solely on LGB ordination the other wanting to group LGB ordination and poly-rights together. As with many movements one group tends to throw another under the bus to get their own rights. (white feminists to POC, gays and lesbians to trans people, etc) Is this another one of those situations. The answer is probably yes however I still am on the side who wants to wait for poly inclusion because I don't see how we could possible win in our churches. Thoughts??

The only feasible legal options for me is a dissolution of the governmental status of marriage to be replaced by another sort of contract, wills, etc. Sort of ironic, eh?

Queers United said...

I do support polyamorous marriage but I believe it should be secondary to gay marriage and here is why. A gay person cannot choose to love the opposite sex and therefore can never be allowed to marry unless they live a lie. A poly person either is in that predicament if their partner(s) are of the same-sex, but if they want to marry the opposite sex they can. Better to be able to marry one, than none, so in that sense gay marriage is more of a civil rights argument. I do believe so is poly marriage, but first we must ensure everyone can enter into 2 person marriage before we worry about more than 2.

Jeff said...

People, people people if we go down this arena then we will be shooting ourselves in the foot. And as well most in the US and world would be strongly set against it. There is no way as a gay man that I would stand for polygomy and in fact would fight quite strongly against it.

Never would have thought I would be in the same camp as the conservatives but if people choose to go that direction I would be a loud vocal opponet against it.

mewi said...

I am absolutely for "Group marriage" although that sounds kind of wrong, it's a bit to close to "group sex" lol.

Never the less, there will most likely have to be special laws and limitations to prevent abuse of this being legalized, unlike same sex marriage "group marriage" will most likely be far more complicated in the legal system.

mewi said...

Also I tend to agree with some of you, lets wait till we gain a larger foot hold on same sex marriage, before we try to fight for that kind of thing lol.

Steve Krotz said...

I too think that committed relationships of more than 2 people can work just as well as any other type of relationship where all parties are committed to each other equally and treat each other as equals as well.

The problem is that other than the 60's flower children, who pretty much pioneered (at least in the western culture) the concept of communal living, the only other images today's society has of polyamorous relationships are those of some of the middle eastern cultures. Or, in our western culture here, the horrific example of the bastardized "families" of the extreme right-wing, fundamentalists Mormons who have turned the concept into gestapo-like, patriarchal enclaves in which women are totally subservient to the men and the children are fair game for whatever sex games the men want to play with them.

Getting over those kinds of images will take a lot of time and A LOT OF EDUCATION before anything like that can even begin to be considered.

I do believe that eventually, barring any kind of all-out religious warfare, beneficient polyamorous relationships will have to be recognized as well.

But before then, the campaigns against accepting these relationships is going to make the fight for gay marriages seem like minor, kindergarten scuffles.

Anonymous said...

It does seem like group marriage would pose jurisprudential difficulties... not difficulties that could not be resolved, necessarily, but certainly ones with more bite of reality than the ones trotted out against gay marriage.

For instance, one partner wants out: group divorce, or walking-papers for one? Group divorce produces the apparent complication of requiring a re-marriage for any remaining partners, but walking-papers for one seems to any one partner the capability of radically-changing the marriage agreement between the others unilaterally.

Community property is an apparent problem that I think is mostly illusory, since divorce settlements/estate probate must already be negotiated even in a two-partner marriage.

Child custody is a doozy, but nothing a competent judge couldn't sort out with a couple hours of depositions.

Really, the whole mess would go away if marrying individuals had the more of the rights that incorporating individuals have. Property considerations would go away (and, in fact, leaving a marriage would be much easier - a bonus for those of us more concerned with human happiness than minimizing divorce) The only real remaining difficulty would be child custody, which would now need to be split N ways where N is a variable whose value's mode is likely 3 or 4, but in principle might be arbitrarily large.

Still, the (admittedly modest) level of nuance and clear thinking necessary to solve these problems is probably beyond the grasp of most voters today, who can't reliably be counted upon to understand that, in a world of supposed legal gender equality, a boy and a boy or a girl and a girl ought to be legally treated the same as a boy and a girl.

Cerberus said...

Well I am part of a polyamorous relationship owing in part to my asexuality.

I think that group marriage rights as part of a polyamory movement will be the next MARITAL fight we see after same sex couples have full marriage and divorce rights, but I also believe it's going to take about a generation at least before people are even willing to listen. People are still struggling with homosexuals and there will need to be more people getting over the patriarchal and consent-less ideas of marriage as a tool of dominance.

The legal issues strike me as what will come up in argument, but from a strictly implementation standpoint, they don't seem rather important. Marriage is at its base legalistic level a contract and courts have mediated multi-party contracts for generations. I imagine divorce would allow just like now for one partner to without fault nullify their presence in the relationship letting divorce court proceedings decide the division of the assets shared and responsibilities to be negotiated. This would work the same, it'd just need us to get out of thinking in dualistic space.

It also would be important for freedom. For all the real human reasons that same sex couples need recognition, poly families now and those which will begin arriving more and more as more families come out and grow into their situations will need similar protections for those they deem their partners and will allow for the recognition of similar bonds of affection and love.

But yeah, it'll be a generation or two and there are good reasons why the poly community can't even really be seen a being connected to the queer community (though I do believe that growing acceptance for both will aid each other).

In many ways, the real struggle seems to be getting people to admit their sexualities and stop being terrified that others may have a different one than they do or their pastor tells them to. I think the problem is that too many people are projecting their Kinsey 1 mental struggles or their insecurities about sex onto the rest of us. I also think getting people to actually get the concept of consent will also be central to all of this.

As for Jeff's comment, I am currently living in Denmark briefly for a Master's program. One of my teachers, my thesis advisor actually is in an out polyamorous triad. Not only do we students know about it, but one of his other partners is in the same department and the school has recently allowed both some time off for paternity leaves.

In short, the world isn't as dead set against it as we would be lead to believe. It all comes down to educating the people about consent and love. All the rest is time so that the old bigots can die out, the movements can grow, old victories can breed new strong young people, and knowledge can appear and attitudes change. If Jeff decides to be a bigot for the next group, it's not unprecedented, but it would nonetheless be sad.

Anonymous said...

TBH yes, I think once marriage is open to anyone, polimarriage will be on the table. But without that, it's just one more thing to use against it. Historically and religiously, there are precedents all over the place, but legally (in two person marriage centric countries) it's going to be a HUGE legal mess. and it really points out a basic problem with marriage in the legal sense. rather than make further complicated laws, should government be involved in qualifying marriage at all?

marriage started out as strictly property rights law, and I really think that's what it needs to be most concerned with (we have consent and age laws already). I also think corporate law will actually provide the model, though family law is going to need huge revisions and will be VERY resistant to such a change. although there is already a small starting push within the dependent law sub component.

and we owe it all to renaissance poets that introduced the concept of romantic marriage, vs contractual marriage, with the idea that the parties would be partners, and not lesser or greater than the other.

three cheers for the old bards? =)
-Nox Ferocia

Anonymous said...

polimarriage? totally against it...the relationship will only last maybe for a couple of years or worst just months...because as the time pass by, they gonna see their differences and the jelousy and some other issues may occur..they all gonna end up hurting each other...

Rabbi Gavriel Silverstein said...

What relationship does this have with equal rights of marriage among all individuals? Clearly this is more fear mongering by Christian anti-gay groups. Marital equality no discriminating based on sexual orientation, skin color, religious background, etc. has nothing to do with making marriage legal for groups, or between people and animals or any other crazy idea that the fear mongerers put forth. Someone needs to really start stepping up the response against these evil, hateful, lying Christians.

Anonymous said...

I think group marriage should be as legal as marriage between couples. I can't help but think things would be a lot easier that way, and I can't see any reason why it shouldn't be available. It'll probably take a long time before any headway is made on that issue, though.

Anonymous said...

Adults can engage in any type of relationship they desire, but I think it would be downright foolish for LGBT "leadership" to advocate for group marriages.

There are many areas in which LGBTs are not granted the same rights as straights, putting a premium on recognizing open/group relationships would send a message that what we really care about is sex.

And I'm not saying that would be incorrect, because I personally feel that the gay "movement" has been primarily motivated by sex (making it legal, allowing gay sex/affection to be displayed as much as straight sex, etc).

Anthony in Nashville

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