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View Full Version : Gay marriage, then polyamory, please.


Aeschines
01-12-2004, 03:09 AM
As a corollary to the gay marriage thread, this one.

Why stop at gay marriage? Let people who want to have more than one spouse have one.

You may be surprised at the number of people out there who already support polyamory, and they're not all swingers, either.

Polyamory has many applications:

1. Sometimes people form a triad or even larger group. It works for them. They deserve the same right to form a domestic partnership as any straight or gay couple. Just as people can insure multiple children, they should be able to insure multiple partners, have them officially considered family for hospital visitations, etc.

2. A childless couple can invite a new person to join the family, either for a limited or extended period, for the purpose of having kids (where only one person in the couple is infertile).

I think it would be a shame if gay persons, who have struggled so much to receive justice for their own cause, support a definition of marriage as "between two people." Concubinage, polygamy, and even polyandry have had a long history in the human race, and in may societies these systems have played a healthy role. Our not accepting them in America is just another species of bigotry.

And no, I'm not joking or trying to argue against gay marriage by means of a slippery slope argument. Rather, I think the slope should be slippery for any couple--or group--that wants to slip.

Tell me what you think. I'm ready to power-argue this one!

Aeschines
01-12-2004, 03:11 AM
One addendum: I think people NOT sexually active should also be able to form domestic partnerships for the purpose of getting insurance and other benefits. Ultimately, it's about the fluid formation of families in total freedom, NOT about judging people on their sexual orientation or level of completeness via a sexual partner.

Mangetout
01-12-2004, 05:45 AM
The main problem with legal recognition of polygamous relationships is (I think) the division of property/responsibility on termination of the contract - in a conventional monogamous union, both partners will have brought property, financial wealth etc to the partnership and (usually) will contribute to a shared pot of resources on an ongoing basis - if it all goes awry, the task of dividing the pot might be a bitter one, but at least it only (generally) involves an adversarial struggle.

If, say, we're talking about a man with two wives, how is the union and separation of resources effected? Does wife B have a claim on contributions brought/added by wife A? If not, how is everything kept identifiably separate?

I'm not suggesting this is an insurmountable problem, just that it is a much bigger and more complex issue than it would be in a two-partner union.

Aeschines
01-12-2004, 05:48 AM
I agree it's tougher, but pre-nup-type contracts can probably solve the bulk of the issue.

Kimstu
01-12-2004, 07:32 AM
Ideally, I think we'd end up having the government officially recognize one all-purpose agreement: the "family contract". Couples or groups of adults (of whatever gender(s)) sharing sexual/procreative relationships could officially declare themselves a "family", but so could other groups of adults with other kinds of relationships (elderly widowed sisters, adults and their dependent parents, platonic friends who choose to be life partners, etc.).

Children born to any family member would also become members of the same family (with the same sort of options for adoption, shared custody, etc., that we have now). On reaching legal adulthood, they would be free to "leave the nest" and form a new family with (a) romantic or platonic partner(s), or else be independent adults with no official family affiliation.

Yes, the legal entitlement issues could get hairy, and perhaps you wouldn't be able to get government recognition for your family without entering into some legally binding "pre-family agreement" specifying the outcomes in case of a breakup; much as you now can't legally own a car without having some kind of insurance for it (in most cases).

Marriage, gay or straight, mono- or poly-, would doubtless still be viewed as a very special and celebratory event on a different level from a platonic, pragmatic "family partnership" agreement, but the government would grant it no special status. The government would be cognizant only of self-declared family units, and would not have any assumptions or rules about which of their adult members were having sex with whom.

Whaddya think? Specifically, would it be necessary to have a legal cap on the number of participants in a family contract (just to keep things from getting too multiply complicated), and if so, where would you draw the line?

Aeschines
01-12-2004, 07:45 AM
Kimstu,

Eloquent again! My goodness you write most clearly. I agree with what you're saying 100%

Is a cap necessary? Probably just for practical purposes. However, there could be layers of rights for different kinds of family members: spousal rights, children's rights, and maybe a kind of extended family rights.

We could also think of people as being axes in a matrix, so I could give hospital visitation rights to 5 people, etc., and they in turn could choose 5 people, etc.

We might as well start working on the details, since this is the wave of the future!

furt
01-12-2004, 08:06 AM
*sigh*

I can't find a wife as it is, and you want the rich, successful assholes to hog the market?

Bastard.

Aeschines
01-12-2004, 08:39 AM
Furt,

Why can't you find a wife? Tell me more about your situation....

Cheesesteak
01-12-2004, 09:17 AM
I like the idea of the generic family contract. The only issue I see would be the abuse of it. Would you wind up with large and complex family groups trying to take advantage of insurance, welfare, or other services? I'm sure you would, if there weren't tight enough controls on who can enter the contract, and what services are made available to 'spouses'.

Mr. Moto
01-12-2004, 09:18 AM
Well, when conservatives said that opening marriage up to gay people would eventually make marriage essentially meaningless, gay people said not at all. We just want the same rights straight people have.

Well, turns out some don't want the same rights straight people have. Some want all sorts of "rights", and will use the arguments presented to get them, regardless of whether the end result is good for society or the individual members of the so-called "families" involved.

Ramming such profound changes down the throats of the American people by judicial fiat isn't conducive to social order. At the very least, we should have an honest debate about the consequences of the changes.

aahala
01-12-2004, 09:45 AM
Originally posted by furt
*sigh*

I can't find a wife as it is, and you want the rich, successful assholes to hog the market?

Bastard.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Henny Youngman: "Take my wife, . . .please."

Meatros
01-12-2004, 09:56 AM
To tell the truth, I agree with you. If three (or more) people want to live their life together in a state of marriage, I say fine, go ahead.

The problem would be of the legal sort. Perhaps these sorts of marriages should require a lot of paperwork and the like.

Idlewild
01-12-2004, 09:58 AM
Originally posted by Mr. Moto
Well, when conservatives said that opening marriage up to gay people would eventually make marriage essentially meaningless, gay people said not at all. We just want the same rights straight people have.

Well, turns out some don't want the same rights straight people have. Some want all sorts of "rights", and will use the arguments presented to get them, regardless of whether the end result is good for society or the individual members of the so-called "families" involved.

Ramming such profound changes down the throats of the American people by judicial fiat isn't conducive to social order. At the very least, we should have an honest debate about the consequences of the changes.

Two questions- 1: Who is ramming anything down the throats of the American people? I see relatively civil discussion but I don't think anyone participating in this thread has the power to do anything by judicial fiat.

2: Why are you assuming that the group of people who would like to see group marriage or family contracts extended is the same group that pushed for gay marriage rights? Why would you consider this to be something that's only desirable to gay people?

You seem to be implying that gay activists lied about what they want. You seem to be making a "give them an inch, and they'll take a mile" argument. It is simply a mistake to assume that polyamory is a gay issue. There is nothing to suggest that the people lobbying for gay marriages are the same people who are raising the issue of polyamorous legal contracts.

Bricker
01-12-2004, 10:04 AM
That's an interesting question.

Many posters on this board have expressed an interest in seeing same-sex marriage legalized.

Of those, many are gay - I have no idea how many are "activists." But of those gay posters favoring legalization of same-sex marriage, who among you also would support the OP's proposal?

- Rick

Polycarp
01-12-2004, 10:05 AM
Originally posted by Mr. Moto
Well, when conservatives said that opening marriage up to gay people would eventually make marriage essentially meaningless, gay people said not at all. We just want the same rights straight people have.

Well, turns out some don't want the same rights straight people have. Some want all sorts of "rights", and will use the arguments presented to get them, regardless of whether the end result is good for society or the individual members of the so-called "families" involved.

Ramming such profound changes down the throats of the American people by judicial fiat isn't conducive to social order. At the very least, we should have an honest debate about the consequences of the changes.

Well, Mr Moto, I'd like to see a cite for your bolded statement. AFAIK, except for that group of people who believes that marriage as a legal entity should be abolished altogether (and anecdotally, the majority of those suggesting that here are, I believe, straight), I have seen no gay people arguing in favor of "all sorts of 'rights'" -- other than a concession by a couple of gay people that those who want polygamous marriages declared legal have a point.

If you've been following these debates, you would recognize this. The gentleman who wrote the OP here is in a straight marriage, and described in another thread the difficulties he had in bringing his wife to America legally.

I agree with you that the entire "what constitutes a marriage" question deserves a valid debate, and not a flamefest. But I'd suggest the following propositions as groundwork for such a debate, which I'd like to see your answers to. Answers should be predominantly in legal terms, not in what you hold to be morally right, where the line differs.

1. What constitutes a valid marriage in legal terms? Why are these criteria the necessary and proper ones?

2. Is marriage a right? Why or why not?

3. If marriage is a right, why are the delimitations from (1) on it acceptable?

4. What comprises a valid "family"? Why are these limitations the necessary and proper ones?

5. What legal reasons are there to prohibit same-sex marriages? If one's reasons are religiously or morally based, why should they be a part of our social fabric? (This is not a trolling question -- there may be valid reasons for enforcing a moral social judgment as a legal proscription -- e.g., few of us would argue that a horny 14-year-old and an adult have a "right" to a sexually active relationship that the law has no business getting involved with.)

6. What reasons might there be for prohibiting a polygamous marriage -- the presumption here being that all parties are fully aware of the nature of the relationship and entering into it of their free will? (I.e., distinguish a man and two women who wish to marry each other from the fringe pseudo-Mormon cult patriarchal polygamies or a bigamous relationship in which the two wives are not aware of each other.)

7. What grounds might there be for prohibiting a "Platonic marriage" -- the sort of relationship mentioned above in which the partners desire to enter into a marital-type bond with or without sex contemplated, for the primary reasons of creating a relationship which benefits them emotionally or financially?

BTW, I'm going to make a semantic distinction here, for purposes of this discussion, and would like to see it accepted. "Polygamy" has traditionally meant any marital combination of more than two persons, formally creating a single marriage and a single family unit. "Polyamory" defines the right to have multiple sexual partners, with or without a marital bond between them. "Polygyny" is the union of one man with multiple wives; "Polyandry," one woman with multiple husbands; and "Plural marriage" the relationship of two or more men with two or more women, all being deemed married to each other. "Bigamy" is the practice of having two or more wives in separate family units -- and presumably would apply to a woman with two or more husbands in separate family units as well. Because some folks use "polyamory" to mean what I defined "polygamy" as, and others to mean the definition I gave, and "polygamy" to mean my definition of "bigamy," I'm suggesting these as a means of keeping clear what we are speaking of when we get into multiple-person marriages. It's not so much a desire to play grammar Nazi as a means of ensuring that all participants mean the same thing by what they say. E.g., Aeschines might simply say "When I say 'polyamory' I am referring to what Poly defined as 'polygamy.'"

Lilairen
01-12-2004, 05:46 PM
BTW, I'm going to make a semantic distinction here, for purposes of this discussion, and would like to see it accepted. "Polygamy" has traditionally meant any marital combination of more than two persons, formally creating a single marriage and a single family unit. "Polyamory" defines the right to have multiple sexual partners, with or without a marital bond between them. "Polygyny" is the union of one man with multiple wives; "Polyandry," one woman with multiple husbands; and "Plural marriage" the relationship of two or more men with two or more women, all being deemed married to each other. "Bigamy" is the practice of having two or more wives in separate family units -- and presumably would apply to a woman with two or more husbands in separate family units as well. Because some folks use "polyamory" to mean what I defined "polygamy" as, and others to mean the definition I gave, and "polygamy" to mean my definition of "bigamy," I'm suggesting these as a means of keeping clear what we are speaking of when we get into multiple-person marriages. It's not so much a desire to play grammar Nazi as a means of ensuring that all participants mean the same thing by what they say. E.g., Aeschines might simply say "When I say 'polyamory' I am referring to what Poly defined as 'polygamy.'"

I agree with most of your semantic stuff, and that's how I use them myself; it's worth noting, though, that polyamory is a significantly broader term than polygamy, because not all relationships in a polyamorous system are going to be spousal.

Polyamory includes relationships like, "I love this person, I want to have this person in my life long-term, I like spending time with this person, if we tried to make a marriage out of this not only would we probably lose the relationship and likely the friendship, but one of us will probably be doing hard time for axe murder. So we'll just keep it to the relationship that works rather than feel herded towards marriage to 'justify' it." ;)

Many polyamorous folks who are interested in the legalisation of polygamy use "legalise polyamory" (despite the fact that it isn't illegal in the first place in most places) because so many people equate "polygamy" with "patriarchal religious polygyny". They tend to aggravate me a bit for the reasons of clarity that you cite.


And hey! On the new board format I can, like, make direct reply work and it does the quotes for me!

Aeschines
01-12-2004, 09:01 PM
The distinctions are good, but "polygamy" has gained some bad connotations over the years. Maybe just "group marriage" is the best term.

furt
01-12-2004, 09:08 PM
Furt,
Why can't you find a wife? Tell me more about your situation....
I'm not trolling for dates. I'm just your average 33-year-old single guy who hasn't found the right person.

But there is a meanigful point behind it, though. Polyamory, if it became common, would affect the marriage market.

Lilairen
01-12-2004, 09:14 PM
The distinctions are good, but "polygamy" has gained some bad connotations over the years. Maybe just "group marriage" is the best term.

Only, I'd say, for those people who marry groups or marry as groups.

For people with multiple distinct spousal relationships, though . . .

(Just to continue in that semantics thread.)

Lilairen
01-12-2004, 09:20 PM
But there is a meanigful point behind it, though. Polyamory, if it became common, would affect the marriage market.

Yup. Makes it much easier to find partners, because just because she's married doesn't mean that she won't be willing to be involved with you.

The "I can't get a partner, and now other people want two, so it'll make my life more difficult" line only makes sense to me if one presumes that only one sex is allowed to partner multiply. Usually it's the men who are nicking all the chicks in these complaints.

Which entertains me, since I know far more MFM groups than any other firm structure. . . .

AZCowboy
01-12-2004, 09:50 PM
I support the ideas espoused by the OP. And I tend to use the term "polyamory" in the broader context that Lilairen describes.

For those putting forward the argument that the legal matters get so complicated as to be unworkable, please help me understand why a corporation in business law (versus a partnership) is able to accommodate unlimited stakeholders.

Sure, it is more complicated, but hardly unworkable.

IWLN
01-13-2004, 12:16 AM
I think it would be a shame if gay persons, who have struggled so much to receive justice for their own cause, support a definition of marriage as "between two people." I think it would be a shame if the gay population took on this issue and added reasons for "conservatives" to continue to deny them their rights. This would add years on to achieving a workable solution. Most of the committed gay couples I know, just want to be able to take care of their families.

Menocchio
01-13-2004, 10:30 AM
I think it would be a shame if the gay population took on this issue and added reasons for "conservatives" to continue to deny them their rights. This would add years on to achieving a workable solution. Most of the committed gay couples I know, just want to be able to take care of their families.

I agree. Let's be honest here, socially condoned polyamory (as opposed to cheating on your spouse) is somewhat alien to western society. Homosexuality, thanks to decades of work, is much less so. As noted above, granted the legal protections of marriage to group marriages would take some work. Same-sex monogamous marriages are thus a much easier sell.

I'd also argue that homosexual marriage is also a much more important issue. One does not chose to be homosexual. Whether one takes multiple spouses is a matter of choice and taste.

From a human rights perspective, I see no reason why not to legally define and protect group marriages, but it would be a terrible mistake for those asking for homosexual marriage to attatch there campaign to this one.

istara
01-13-2004, 12:03 PM
Personally, I am against legalising polyamory.

In terms of polygamy, mutliple marriages, divorces and alimony can work reasonably well under Islam because there is a well established tradition, and religious law, on both polygamy and divorce. Compared to Christianity, Islam was and still is centuries ahead in terms of divorce and marriage settlements. Possibly in a sexist way, because financially it favours the woman: the man must support her, she never has to support him. So as I understand it, a Muslim man could never sue his Muslim wife for alimony, even if she was a billionnairess businesswomen and he gave up his entire career to bring up their kids for twenty years. In fact, according to Sharia, he'd possibly still have to support her.

But Islamic polygamy is an enshrined tradition within particularly strict parameters. There is only ever one husband. There are no same sex, transgendered, or transgendering partners. It happens in a culture where it is expected that women will primarily bring up the family, even if she works. That said, custody laws in Islamic countries have a LONG way to go.

What sort of rights do you want for a group marriage? Which partner gets the "partner's health insurance" or partner's air flights in an employment contract? You can hardly expect an employer to dish out twice, or thrice, or quadruple. I also think there is a major difference between a strictly traditional polygamous situation in a Muslim or Mormon family, and a looser group of people in a polyamorous style situation.

toadspittle
01-13-2004, 03:10 PM
istara brings up an excellent point--namely, that most health, etc., benefits today are based on two spouses. If polygamy became common, I think you'd find the spousal health insurance benefits we have today disappear. Of course, by the time something like this passed, the healthcare system could be radically different, with everyone receiving govt. healthcare individually, regardless of their marital status.

In general, I would not be opposed to polygamy, so long as:

1 - cohabitation were a requirement; I don't think any marriage, straight, gay, multiple, etc., can be considered a marriage without cohabitation

2 - the contractual obligations/rights/property divisions/child custody/etc. were all exhaustively described in a prenuptial agreement; no one should be able to enter into a multiple marriage--something which our culture has zero experience in dealing with--without one

Mr. Moto
01-13-2004, 11:07 PM
Two questions- 1: Who is ramming anything down the throats of the American people? I see relatively civil discussion but I don't think anyone participating in this thread has the power to do anything by judicial fiat.

In this board, yes. But in the country at large, the discussion isn't terribly civil. The actions of bodies like the Massachusetts Supreme Court, acting out of concert with established tradition, law and in opposition to popular opinion, is set on imposing its will, come what may.

Don't kid yourself that this will settle things once and for all. Look at what a festering wound the abortion issue has been since Roe vs. Wade.

2: Why are you assuming that the group of people who would like to see group marriage or family contracts extended is the same group that pushed for gay marriage rights? Why would you consider this to be something that's only desirable to gay people?

You seem to be implying that gay activists lied about what they want. You seem to be making a "give them an inch, and they'll take a mile" argument. It is simply a mistake to assume that polyamory is a gay issue. There is nothing to suggest that the people lobbying for gay marriages are the same people who are raising the issue of polyamorous legal contracts.

I didn't mean to suggest that they were. I did mean to suggest, though, that the same arguments could be used to grant this right. Indeeed, if gay marriage is validated, we'd be hard pressed to deny polygamous marriage in America. Certainly it's had a longer and more illustrious history.

Lilairen
01-13-2004, 11:57 PM
The actions of bodies like the Massachusetts Supreme Court, acting out of concert with established tradition, law and in opposition to popular opinion, is set on imposing its will, come what may.

Several polls have found that popular opinion in Massachusetts is with the SJC decision, you know.

The one I can find without going to more effort than I feel like at the moment was sponsored by GLAD, and so its biases should be taken into consideration. The results can be found at http://www.glad.org/marriage/Decision_Research_Poll_10.30.03.pdf. If you're talking about public opinion outside Massachusetts, well, I don't see the relevance to what is, after all, a Massachusetts decision.

Sheesh. The gay marriage threads get hijacked by people talking about polygamy, and now the polygamy threads are getting hijacked by people talking about gay marriage.

IWLN
01-14-2004, 12:07 AM
Don't kid yourself that this will settle things once and for all. Look at what a festering wound the abortion issue has been since Roe vs. Wade.I don't agree with this. The abortion issue carries with it a perception of continual harm being done. It's hard to imagine what harm could be perceived from gay marriages, once they just become a regular fact of life.

I didn't mean to suggest that they were. I did mean to suggest, though, that the same arguments could be used to grant this right. Indeeed, if gay marriage is validated, we'd be hard pressed to deny polygamous marriage in America. Certainly it's had a longer and more illustrious history.Allowing gays to marry is a natural progression, merely an addition to an existing institution. Polygamy is a radical change of this institution and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the changes currently proposed. Being gay is normal, even if not the "norm". Having multiple spouses would involve more of a cultural change. Polygamy's long history has not typically included cultures that we particularly respect. That would be a tough road. I would not be in favor of it in part because of the economic problems involved. A family contract would not deal with things like social security and survivors benefits, etc. The federal government does not change very quickly. I would also have to see some perceived overall benefit to make the changes worthwhile.

AZCowboy
01-14-2004, 12:24 AM
And the gay marriage advocates can't seem to support such tolerance, because, gee, they've made so much progress. :smack:

I mean, its the principle of thing, right?

As for healthcare, employers can certainly provide an equal subsidy for employees with one spouse or two. Anyone hear of a cafeteria plan? There is also supplemental insurance, other families need elderly care, extra dependent care, ... need I go on?
Originally posted by IWLN
Polygamy's long history has not typically included cultures that we particularly respect.Huh? Like Judeo-christian culture? Polygamy may feel distant time-wise, but it is clearly in our lineage.

IWLN
01-14-2004, 12:45 AM
And the gay marriage advocates can't seem to support such tolerance, because, gee, they've made so much progress. :smack:

I mean, its the principle of thing, right?I'm not sure what the principle of it is? Let's legalize anything anyone could possibly want, no matter how few are involved? What really are the overall benefits? Gay marriage advocates shouldn't support this, because their cause is more worthy and not worth compromising for a side issue. Sometimes you should put on your own oxygen mask first.

Huh? Like Judeo-christian culture? Polygamy may feel distant time-wise, but it is clearly in our lineage.Incest used to be an acceptable practice, too. I don't think the lineage angle is going to work that well. People believe we have progressed from many of these practices.

Lilairen
01-14-2004, 02:29 AM
What are the overall benefits?

How about the standard parcel that one ought to know from listening to debates over gay marriage: the right to see one's partners in the hospital. Having all a family's parents be able to handle the family responsibilities for the children. Protection from being forced to testify against a spouse in court.

That's ignoring the economic things, like intestate inheritance, the right to transfer property without incurring tax, and access to health care.

And also, that's ignoring the social things, the fact that legal marriage is the societal rite of passage for acceptance of a relationship, and it's really quite painful to have a spousal relationship that some people feel free to dismiss as irrelevant because it doesn't come with paperwork. (One family I know handled this by having two weddings, I believe within a week of each other, and not telling anyone other than the people who keep track of the paperwork which one was the legal one.)

Metacom
01-14-2004, 10:30 AM
But of those gay posters favoring legalization of same-sex marriage, who among you also would support the OP's proposal?
I'm not entirely gay, but I'd say I'm theoretically in favor of the proposal, with the caveat that the details would be significantly harder to work out then the gay case.

Ultimately, I think the government should completely butt out of the marriage game. Leave the ceremony to the churches, the benefits details to temployers, and the assignment of the other rights (e.g., hospital visitation, beneficiaries, etc.) to the individual or institution that it concerns.

catsix
01-14-2004, 10:44 AM
Lilairen said:
The "I can't get a partner, and now other people want two, so it'll make my life more difficult" line only makes sense to me if one presumes that only one sex is allowed to partner multiply. Usually it's the men who are nicking all the chicks in these complaints.

Makes a lot of sense for a person who is not interested in a polywhatever relationship.

No matter what the legal status of these relationships or what you call them, I'm not the kind of person who would be happy in one. When I'm in a relationship it's with one other person, who's only in a relationship with me.

So that would pretty well eliminate from the market everybody who is in any kind of group relationship.

IWLN
01-14-2004, 11:04 AM
What are the overall benefits?To be honest I was thinking about overall benefits for society in general. I would like to say I'm sympathetic to this cause, but I am not particularly. Perhaps if I knew people that this affected, it would be easier for me to consider it an issue large enough to take on. I have no doubt that it is a problem for some, but does it affect enough people for it to be worth considering? I guess I believe new laws should only be put into effect to right horrible wrongs or if they are necessary for at least a certain number of the population.

How about the standard parcel that one ought to know from listening to debates over gay marriage: the right to see one's partners in the hospital. Having all a family's parents be able to handle the family responsibilities for the children. Protection from being forced to testify against a spouse in court.Several of these issues can be handled with notorized statements and power of attourny. As for protection against being forced to testify against a spouse, I can't work up much sympathy for that dilemma.

That's ignoring the economic things, like intestate inheritance, the right to transfer property without incurring tax, and access to health care.The economic issues are probably the biggest reason I'm not in favor of this. Let's say four adults enter into a "marriage union". They receive all the tax breaks involved, so the taxes they pay for various things are reduced. The actual tax dollars needed to run our government do not go down. To make up the difference in your tax breaks, taxes will go up across the board. So while you will still be paying less, I will be paying more, to make up the deficit caused by the new marriage laws. Your lifestyle will actually cost me money in the long run. I'm not interested in making a sacrifice, so you can reap the benefits of your choice. Health benefits will not increase, so the only benefit to you will be flexibility on who you can have on your policy. This may give employers more of a reason to just stop including them as a benefit. Too complicated.

And also, that's ignoring the social things, the fact that legal marriage is the societal rite of passage for acceptance of a relationship, and it's really quite
painful to have a spousal relationship that some people feel free to dismiss as irrelevant because it doesn't come with paperwork. (One family I know handled this by having two weddings, I believe within a week of each other, and not telling anyone other than the people who keep track of the paperwork which one
was the legal one.)Even if this were made legal, I don't believe with that would come any more acceptance than there would be now. I am willing to be proved wrong, but I just don't see it happening. I still see this as a lifestyle choice and not something a person is compelled to do in any way. It is a choice to allow yourself to even be in a postition to love multiple partners and while I can agree that the choice is individual, I don't feel like I should have to make any concessions for it. I also have doubts as to whether or not I would want to make this happen for my children or grandchildren. Wouldn't this make life even more complicated?

theR
01-14-2004, 11:17 AM
I agree it's tougher, but pre-nup-type contracts can probably solve the bulk of the issue.

I doubt it. I am not a lawyer, but from what I have seen, prenuptial agreements are sometimes or even commonly deemed invalid or unenforcable in courts.

Shodan
01-14-2004, 11:17 AM
For those who feel that plural marriage is necessary as a matter of principle -

Do you expect that whatever rules are applied to gay marriage/multiple marriage will be applied to traditional heterosexual one-man-and-one-woman marriage? Or do you think a different institution should be set up, with a different set of rules?

I am thinking of inheritance or medical power of attorney as examples. Is there going to be one primary spouse, who makes treatment decisions and otherwise acts as next of kin, or what kind of decision-making structure is expected?

Or, supposing in some multiple marriage, one partner leaves. Is he expected to pay child support for all the children of the marriage, including those for whom he is not the biological father? What if nobody knows?

Regards,
Shodan

Lilairen
01-14-2004, 03:38 PM
Makes a lot of sense for a person who is not interested in a polywhatever relationship.

No matter what the legal status of these relationships or what you call them, I'm not the kind of person who would be happy in one. When I'm in a relationship it's with one other person, who's only in a relationship with me.

So that would pretty well eliminate from the market everybody who is in any kind of group relationship.

Is there some reason to presume that the majority of people "off the market" by this standard are going to be of a particular sex?

My experience is that people who value monogamy can be of whatever sex, and I have no evidence to suggest that there are more men or women or whatever who do. Given that none of the people to whom it matters are likely to accept a poly marital arrangement in the first place, they're not off your market because of it.

I have no doubt that it is a problem for some, but does it affect enough people for it to be worth considering?

. . .

It's good to know that I'm a member of a minority that isn't large enough to be worthy of consideration. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

The economic issues are probably the biggest reason I'm not in favor of this. Let's say four adults enter into a "marriage union". They receive all the tax breaks involved, so the taxes they pay for various things are reduced.

Familiar with the marriage penalty? That thing that kicks in when you have more than one person in a household earning a significant amount of money? I'm not certain that the numbers work out the way you believe they do.

Personally, even without marriage rights for my family, I think the Federal tax code is broken; it presumes that the default standard family is two-parent n-children one-income. This doesn't work for a large number of people -- multiple-income families, families caring for elderly relatives, extended households, and all of that. My feeling is that taxation should be handled by household, not anything else, including marriage, because people arrange by households.

I still see this as a lifestyle choice and not something a person is compelled to do in any way.

I'm just as thrilled about having my orientation and family trivialised as a "lifestyle" as the queer folk. You're not compelled to have a partner or marry in any way either, but people don't sneer at your "lifestyle" if you do.

People who feel a need for a multiple-adult partnership family will have one whether you make "concessions" for it or not, like people who feel a need for a same-sex partnership family will have one whether you make "concessions" for it or not. Your children and grandchildren will face the same choices whether you dismiss polyfolks as too small a minority to be worth considering or not -- they'll just face them with greater or lesser ability to protect themselves.

I am thinking of inheritance or medical power of attorney as examples. Is there going to be one primary spouse, who makes treatment decisions and otherwise acts as next of kin, or what kind of decision-making structure is expected?

When my family is no longer divided by such a long distance, I'm going to be filing a medical power of attorney giving both my partners equal right to make care decisions for me in the event of an emergency. The concept of giving one of my partners higher status than the other feels about as icky to me as the concept of declaring one child the important kid.

Captain Amazing
01-14-2004, 04:08 PM
Do you expect that whatever rules are applied to gay marriage/multiple marriage will be applied to traditional heterosexual one-man-and-one-woman marriage? Or do you think a different institution should be set up, with a different set of rules?


I don't support multiple marriage/polygamy/polyamory/whatever you want to call it, but I do want to point out that monogamous gay marriages can be treated the same as monogmous straight marriages in terms of things like power of attorney and inheritance. So, you really shouldn't say "gay marriage/multiple marriage" as distinct from "traditional marriage".

Shodan
01-14-2004, 06:54 PM
I don't support multiple marriage/polygamy/polyamory/whatever you want to call it, but I do want to point out that monogamous gay marriages can be treated the same as monogmous straight marriages in terms of things like power of attorney and inheritance. So, you really shouldn't say "gay marriage/multiple marriage" as distinct from "traditional marriage".
That's a fair point.

But the question remains if you can advocate for gay marriage because forming relationships amidst consenting adults is a basic human right, and still exclude multiple marriage. Why, in other words, is it OK for two gays to be married, but not three?
When my family is no longer divided by such a long distance, I'm going to be filing a medical power of attorney giving both my partners equal right to make care decisions for me in the event of an emergency. The concept of giving one of my partners higher status than the other feels about as icky to me as the concept of declaring one child the important kid.
"Hard cases make bad law", they say. I don't mean to involve your personal life in this discussion, but what about cases where partners disagree about important decisions? I have seen it happen even in cases where there is supposed to be one decision-maker, as in the executor of a will.

I expect that most of the issues will arise in situations where people got "married" without any pre-nuptial agreements. Then the union breaks up, or some crisis occurs, and there is no clear path of decision or of responsibility. Family law is messy, even for heterosexuals.

Regards,
Shodan

IWLN
01-14-2004, 07:04 PM
It's good to know that I'm a member of a minority that isn't large enough to be worthy of consideration. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.Okay, it won't mean much, but I am sorry for offending you. I just couldn't come up with a better way of saying it. Again, I apologize. Since this is your cause, I do think it's up to you to provide some sort of validation, facts, numbers to show that there is a reason, beyond your own wishes for changing the law. You need to realize that this is actually a foreign concept for many of us, so your reasoning may not be immediately clear.

Familiar with the marriage penalty? That thing that kicks in when you have more than one person in a household earning a significant amount of money? I'm not certain that the numbers work out the way you believe they do.I am familiar with it. My assumption was that a married couple was adding other adults to their family and in all honesty it seems like the entire tax structure would need to be changed for this anyway. I will plead ignorance on this. I was only suggesting possible scenarios. I'm sure I'm not alone in considering the different ways this would affect us as a whole. It's up to those in favor of the change to research and come up with this type of information.

Personally, even without marriage rights for my family, I think the Federal tax code is broken; it presumes that the default standard family is two-parent n-children one-income. This doesn't work for a large number of people -- multiple-income families, families caring for elderly relatives, extended households, and all of that. My feeling is that taxation should be handled by household, not anything else, including marriage, because people arrange by households.I agree with that.

I'm just as thrilled about having my orientation and family trivialised as a "lifestyle" as the queer folk. You're not compelled to have a partner or marry in any way either, but people don't sneer at your "lifestyle" if you do.I am not sneering at your lifestyle and I'm sorry if the word has a negative conotation for you. I'm just not familar with all of the PC verbage involved in polyamory, polygamy or whatever term is right for you. Gay marriage is about being included in the existing marriage laws and I still believe what you're asking for is a lot more complicated. I wasn't trying to trivialize it, but still see it as a choice and completely different from the gender issue.

People who feel a need for a multiple-adult partnership family will have one whether you make "concessions" for it or not, like people who feel a need for a same-sex partnership family will have one whether you make "concessions" for it or not. Your children and grandchildren will face the same choices whether you dismiss polyfolks as too small a minority to be worth considering or not -- they'll just face them with greater or lesser ability to protect themselves.You're obviously going to have to make "concessions" for me. The only way for me to learn whether or not what I'm thinking might be wrong in this setting is to just say it. I can keep quiet and stay uninformed and close-minded or I can put my foot in my mouth and let you convince me that what I'm saying is wrong; while I'm chewing on my shoe.:( It makes more sense to fight ignorance than resent it.
When my family is no longer divided by such a long distance, I'm going to be filing a medical power of attorney giving both my partners equal right to make care decisions for me in the event of an emergency. The concept of giving one of my partners higher status than the other feels about as icky to me as the concept of declaring one child the important kid.I can understand that. Again, I'm sorry I offended you.

Scylla
01-14-2004, 08:03 PM
Polyamory does not lend itself to our socioeconomic system. I have no problem with the morality of a polyamorous relationship, committed or not, but it makes no sense to convey the benefits of marriage into such a relationship.

A Polyamorous marriage need never end. It can keep adding members and surviving the loss of other members. It's continued existance is not predicated upon the survival or continued participation of its members.

This is a very important distinction.

A traditional, or gay marriage exists only as long as both members survive or remain committed to it. It is in fact a defintion of their relationship and not an independant entity in and of itself.

Because a polyamorous marriage can survive independant of its members, it is a legal entity in and of itself. Like a corporation, it becomes a legal "person."

Since we already have corporations, and partnerships that exist as legal entities I would advise anybody interested in such relationships to use the appropriate format which has already been created for just such multiple person lasting endeavors. There is no reason to create a new category, or add polyamory into a category, like marriage, to which it simply does not fit.


For a long time I was not sure if I could support gay marriage because of the slippery slope of polyamory and such. Once I realized that Polyamorous relationships actually are significantly different from two person arrangements, I realized that it simply was not an issue.

Lilairen
01-14-2004, 08:25 PM
(Argh. Having to log myself in again for /every single post/ is maddening. I hope the boards stabilise RSN.)

"Hard cases make bad law", they say. I don't mean to involve your personal life in this discussion, but what about cases where partners disagree about important decisions? I have seen it happen even in cases where there is supposed to be one decision-maker, as in the executor of a will.

I expect that most of the issues will arise in situations where people got "married" without any pre-nuptial agreements. Then the union breaks up, or some crisis occurs, and there is no clear path of decision or of responsibility. Family law is messy, even for heterosexuals.

To be honest, I haven't discussed that with them as of yet (it hasn't come up as an issue, though I expect that we'll wind up having a number of nuts-and-bolts conversations when we're near enough to each other that it's relevant), and for the most part I trust them to be able to resolve amicably. I expect that at some point I'll put together some documents expressing my opinions about that sort of thing as I get to them, and I'll expect them to follow my preferences. (When I was working in a law office I prepped several multiple-designatee health care proxies; I expect the way they actually work in practice is that the first name listed is contacted, and if unavailable it goes on to the second, and so on.)

There's a wide variety of level of negotiation and documentation among polyfolks I know; there are a few who have extensive work done. (When I get to the point at which it would be sensical to have legal documents prepped, I'll probably be looking at the Our Little Quad website, because they've got a lot of extensive stuff worked out for handling their property and kids and other issues. I happen to know a few of the people in that family peripherally.)

I am not sneering at your lifestyle and I'm sorry if the word has a negative conotation for you.

"Lifestyle" is a very charged word in non-mainstream groupings. The basic problem with the use of the word is that it connotes that a person's choice of life-partners is on the same level as their decorating preferences and how often they go out to dinner at Outback Steakhouse.

There is also no actual "lifestyle" associated with a particular orientation -- my "lifestyle" is pretty much the same as that of any stay-at-home childless partner of a techie in our age, economic group, and region. (I bet from that brief description you can come up with a pretty good idea of how I live, which is, after all, what 'lifestyle' means -- do you have any clear idea of how I live from the fact that I'm poly?)

Polyfolks have a particular issue with the word, or at least some of them do; apparently "the lifestyle" is a common euphemism for swinging, and a lot of polyfolks want to be sure they're thoroughly separated from swingers, often for political/ideological/social acceptability reasons. (Personally, I don't get especially het up over that one, because anyone who could possibly imagine me as a swinger has reality problems beyond my capacity to address.)

Gay marriage is about being included in the existing marriage laws and I still believe what you're asking for is a lot more complicated. I wasn't trying to trivialize it, but still see it as a choice and completely different from the gender issue.

I agree with you that poly marriage is a lot more complicated. I'm sorry that I gave the impression otherwise.

The fact of the matter is, frankly, I'm not any more capable of having a stable, healthy monogamous relationship than most gay people are of having a stable, healthy heterosexual one. My emotional stability is, I think, better without a partnership than with just one, but it's hard to tell (given that my husband and I have been together for over nine years, and my memory's not what it ever was). I shut down on developing new serious attractions at two, like people who are wired for monogamy don't develop new attractions when they have one healthy relationship. (My husband, on the other hand, doesn't really have a preference; he can comfortably do either a monogamous relationship or a poly one.)

I have a great family. All three of the other people in my family (my partners and their partner) are supportive of different parts of my work. I'm dealing with a difficult decision that'll probably have a big effect on all of our lives if I go one way on it, and I've gotten nothing but support whatever way I go, and help from my partners' other with thoughts about how she made a similar decision. We've got a wide variety of skillsets and life experiences that we can bring together, different life-paths that will serve as examples to our children, a broader support network for those children when we have them. We have enough adults that we could potentially buffer someone being out of work without risking going on the dole, or even handle a stay-at-home parent or lengthy homeschooling without worrying about making ends meet. I'm a sane person these days, who's contemplating being able to take action in the world again (I had a nasty nervous breakdown with complications several years ago, and my family's given me the strength and support so that I can now imagine being something other than a burden).

I'm pretty lucky, not only in my family, but in the way it works out with the law as currently formulated; half of the relationships in my family can be and are protected with legal marital bonds. I can afford to travel occasionally to visit the half of the family that lives on the other coast. That's not too bad as things go. I don't even have to worry (yet) about the sort of malicious thug that tried to get some friends' kids taken away using the fact they were in a multi-adult household. (The friends got some benefits out of being out as poly; when the police went to talk to the school authorities and such, the school authorities said something to the effect of, "Yeah, all those caring adults involved with taking care of those children. Lucky kids.")

Hey, I'm sorry I came on quite so strong there; it sort of stung to get a response that read to me as, "If there aren't enough of you to pass a certain threshhold of relevance, I don't care about you or your families".

KellyM
01-14-2004, 08:51 PM
I'm not trolling for dates. I'm just your average 33-year-old single guy who hasn't found the right person.

But there is a meanigful point behind it, though. Polyamory, if it became common, would affect the marriage market.Perhaps, but it probably wouldn't make it harder for you to find your mate. It might even make it easier.

Captain Amazing
01-14-2004, 09:50 PM
That's a fair point.

But the question remains if you can advocate for gay marriage because forming relationships amidst consenting adults is a basic human right, and still exclude multiple marriage. Why, in other words, is it OK for two gays to be married, but not three?


Well, I wasn't looking at the philosophical question, but merely the practical one, and that for practical purposes a gay marriage is more like a traditional marriage than it is like a multiple marriage.

Philosophically, you can make the argument that you lay out...that if you say forming relationships between consenting adults is a human right, then gays should be married and also people should be allowed to marry multiple partners.

However, there's another gay marriage argument that its possible to make. If you start with the premise that monogamy is beneficial and should be promoted (and, I know, not everyone in this thread will agree), you can make the argument that the state should allow gay marriage because marriage promotes monogamous relationships. Marriage puts pressure on a couple to stay together and be faithful to each other. Obviously, that doesn't always happen, and we all know that people cheat on their spouses, get divorced, and married life isn't always happily ever efter. However, the marriage gives a couple a reason to stay together. So, there's no reason to assume this won't also happen for gay people who get married.

So there's one potential argument for gay marriage that doesn't "open the door" to multiple marriage.

catsix
01-14-2004, 11:37 PM
Lilairen said:
Given that none of the people to whom it matters are likely to accept a poly marital arrangement in the first place, they're not off your market because of it.

There are those who enter into relationships with other people for reasons other than actual interest in that person. Or people who'll do it just because it's 'in vogue' to do so.

I also wonder how many people would enter into a relationship thinking it was monogamous and then one day their SO says 'Hey by the way, I'm a poly-amorous/gamous person.'

Lilairen
01-15-2004, 12:22 AM
I also wonder how many people would enter into a relationship thinking it was monogamous and then one day their SO says 'Hey by the way, I'm a poly-amorous/gamous person.'

I know a fair number of relationships that have had that set of circumstances happen to them. Not everyone is especially self-aware about this sort of thing, or upfront, and also, people change. I've also seen the circumstance where people were upfront about being poly, and started a relationship with that known ahead of time, only to learn that the person on the other side was pulling an "/I'll/ be the one to convert this one to monogamy" or "I'll be the one to satisfy her" or "I'll be able to lure him away from his others and have him all to myself."

Of the relationships I've seen that had that sort of beginning, I've seen a variety of outcomes. Some of them have ended due to what turns out to be relationship-breaking incompatibility. Some have found compromises that keep the relationship technically monogamous while being sure the poly person's needs are met (I know one such relationship where the important thing for the poly partner is that they need to feel able to love and burble, even if they don't pursue those feelings towards a relationship; another one that sets things snuggle-okay at parties, and so on). Some relationships of that sort open on a strict heirarchy (the monogamous partner is given promises to have the status of sole marital partner, and the poly person has other less committed relationships). Some open, but with other forms of restiction, sexual or otherwise. Some open without restrictions, or with temporary ones. Sometimes, but not often, the monogamous partner also becomes poly (one of the rare examples of this is the formation of my own family).

From my observation, how that resolves seems to depend on how strong the various people's needs are, and how well they can articulate what those needs are so that commitments can be made that might address one person's needs without denying another's. So a poly person whose real need is to be able to express how she feels about people without needing to have a relationship with them could make a commitment to exclusivity that I, who need two partnerships, could not. I, on the other hand, can make a commitment to a closed relationship that someone whose need is to not feel hemmed in in a relationship.

matt_mcl
01-15-2004, 01:46 AM
At one point, someone in the discussion said that the legal precedent of gay marriage in Canada would lead inevitably to polygamous ones.

Regardless of my own feelings on the subject, I was forced to point out that under the Charter of Rights, sex and sexual orientation are prohibited grounds of discrimination. Number is not.