Abby Ellin of The Daily Beast brings up an interesting wrinkle with the whole marriage debate...
Now then, there is already some faux outrage at the idea that we are looking at a "deadly" slippery slope in allowing gay marriage, and now feminists and perverts of all sorts are coming out of the woodwork to challenge traditional marriage even more so. Fox Nation is already having a lively debate.
Now then, I think we've all seen The Top Ten Reasons Gay Marriage Should Be Illegal list by now. It's been a staple of forums for a few years now. Heck, I've got it in my Drafts folder in Gmail for ready copy-paste action, because it is pretty much the best Macro option to challenge the usual arguments against gay marriage. One of the things the list brings up, on the slippery slope argument, is that pets don't have legal standing to sign a marriage contract.
This is a particular point to the whole argument against poly marriages. Right now, we have horrible examples of poly marriages thanks to the more Fundamentalist LDS compounds. Girls who are brought into these marriages and who have no legal status, who are often far too young, and then are essentially sold to the highest bidder, and even traded around. Without rights. Without recourse. Without hope. This is the sort of horror story that is often invoked to combat the idea of multiple partner marriages. Not just are these "marriages" without sanction invoked, but then we are further insulted with statistics of poly marriages from societies without any gender equality. Societies, in fact, whose legal system is specifically geared to prevent gender equality.
Gender equality has an important impact to poly marriages. Not just that women have legal protection, but that all parties have protection in marriage contracts. As a divorced father from the state of Massachusetts, I got to experience the full weight of the state during my divorce. And my ex-wife as well. That equal protection guaranteed my rights as a father, and my ex-wife pulled some bone headedness that pretty much handed me my divorce. Without that gender parity, I probably would have been screwed right out of custody. Thank goodness for that. It illustrates a need for gender equality before we think about poly marriages. We all need to be equal under the law before we can approach the subject.
Putting aside the "morality" issues that some folks have with poly relationships, there are legal issues. I put aside the morality issue for a reason. My morals shouldn't influence what others decide to do. But, legal issues are the important ones. In part, because there is the odd idea that our legal system just couldn't handle the whole thing. Because contract law has apparently never dealt with multiple parties involved in contracts, with obligations equal and fairly distributed between them. Because somehow property rights issues can't be laid out in standard boilerplate and approved by legal representatives, and that judges can't decide to dissolve marriages based on arguments by qualified attorneys.
Legally, we already have most of the framework in place to handle poly marriages--at least in theory. In reality, there are details to work out--as many in the poly community are more than willing to acknowledge. And likewise, they also realize that now is maybe not their time.
We may not be entirely prepared as a society to accept poly relationships in the open, but there are plenty of triad and even quads out there. The poly community tends to be sort of quiet. The dirty little secret in the LGBT community, and in the straight community as well. It is an odd duck, because each of these relationships are unique. Some work as triads. Some as quads. Some other permutations exist. Some are bisexual. Some are hetero. Some are gay. Some skirt a lot of definitions.
And it's the definition that I think gets folks a little uneasy in several communities. The article that I linked earlier touches on that. The lack of solid definition causes all sorts of rumblies in all sorts of tumblies. Because folks have all sorts of ideas to what a relationship should be. And when folks challenge those ideas, it gets them uncomfortable. Their own marriages and relationships are the watchword for most folks. If folks challenge that, then that means that they have to examine their own ideas on what constitute a "good" or "right" relationship. And inherently the worry is that if someone else's relationship is "right" then their own is somehow "wrong."
And it's that notion we have to challenge.
I've done the traditional relationship thing.
I've done the poly thing.
Neither is "better" than the other. The one thing that life has taught me is that it's the people, not the numbers. Three people work only when it's the right three people. Two people can simply be terrible with one another. Three people can be all be hot and gorgeous, and be exactly wrong for each other. Two couples can be friends and try to work something out, and it can be amazing, or it can break all four up and ruin those friendships. And likewise, two people can be utterly perfect for one another.
And it's not the numbers, it's not the "institution" or "tradition" or "rebellion" involved. It's the people. They have to be honest, and work together, or it just isn't going to pan out.
Be that as a couple. As a triad. As a quad.
It depends entirely on the people and you can't say "couples don't work!" or "poly doesn't work!" because of individual experiences. Some folk work together. Some folks don't. And in part, the idea that poly or couples are inherently superior is a concept that only muddies the waters, and it's an argument that needs to be done away with. Relationships aren't inherently better than another--it's about the people, and if you take that focus away from the relationship, you short change that experience.
Happiest relationship I've ever seen is a relatively famous blues singer. She and her husband and wife are so supportive, so loving, so just plain wonderful together, that they are a joy to just be around. I know a lot of traditional couples that are no where near so happy. I've seen triads and quads that are miserable to be near. I know couples that are just perfect together and there is no thought of expanding their relationship. They don't need it. And likewise, I've seen couples so miserable that even trying to talk to one of them brings me down for days after.
It isn't a limitation to the style of relationship, it's a limitation of people relating to one another. Some people fit better together than others. And we are all looking for those folks, or we're happy as hell that we've found it. And if you've found that happiness, then good on you, and your partner, or partners.
Boils down to: does it work for you? If it does, and you're happy, drive on. Be glad of it. If it doesn't, don't sweat it, split, and be happy for one another.
To be honest, I would like to see other marriage options open, because there are a lot more options than just husband and wife. Human sexuality is a lot more complicated than that. The one hard and fast rule in nature is that of variation. Variation is the rule in nature.
Give everyone legal protection, make sure that everyone is consenting, and drive on. None of my business. None of your business.
As a society we need to stop sticking our noses in other peoples' business. Nosey Nellies, we don't need. It runs counter to the ideals that we founded this nation upon, and worse, it's rude. And my Grandma taught me to not be rude to people. Ultimately, I think that we are at the cusp of some great and formative moments in our society. And part of that, is the recognition that while not everyone is the same, we want all similar things, in the desire to connect and be happy. With and for one another. And I hope to hell that we can get past the superficial things, and get down to the real brass tacks. Relationships make families. People make the relationships. Not numbers. Not religions. We put the focus on the people, and if they can be happy together, we're going to grow as a society, and maybe calm the hell down and get some peace together, and be able to focus on bigger problems than who puts what where, and with who...
Originally posted on Tue May 12, 2009 at 17:35:46 PM EDT at The Motley Moose