17th Feb 2015

“Polyamory and Pregnancy: Legal Stuff”

Without full marriage equality, polyamorous/polygamous families face even more legal complications than they should.

Once again, full marriage equality is to protect children. Multiple paternity is a necessity for modern societies, given the complex families constructed by even monogamous heterosexual couples, let alone polycules.



“The Women’s Kingdom”: The Mosuo of China

In the mountains of western China, the Mosuo have a social practice unlike any other ever known to exist. Land is passed down matrilineally, and there is no official recognition of marriage. All children live and work on their mother’s land. At night, men travel to visit their lovers, and return home before morning. Men aren’t required to raise their children. Instead, the mother’s brothers raise the children. Women generally have equal status with men. All long-term relationships are based on mutual love, not social obligation, since economic security is not based on sexual relationships. Tourism, however, is now disrupting Mosuo life, introducing pollution, venereal disease, and prostitution.


A man who was in a stable homosexual triad for 41 years

Bob met Don in 1966, and then met Keith five years later in 1971. After being together for 46 years, they had to say goodbye to Don, but he and Keith remain.

Polyamory has been happening more frequently and has been acceptable for longer in the queer community than the straight community. I’m glad that acceptance for both queer and poly people has been increasing so much in the past few years. Still, there’s a long way to go on both fronts – after all, they could not get married to their third husband, and even if they were 30 now and in a polyamorous relationship, they would probably have to hide it from certain people. Certainly, till death they did not part.



Increasing acceptance for polyamory and polygamy

First, among green party members in New Zealand, acceptance of polygamy is fairly high, and increasing among younger voters.

Voters at the upcoming election this year could be forgiven for wondering with a new poll discovering one in four Green voters wants a law change to support polygamy. The poll, undertaken by David Farrar’s Curia Research, surveyed 1022 people on their attitudes to redefining marriage to include multiple wives or husbands…and found support for the idea was strongest – at 25% – among Green voters. Overall, national support for polygamy is running at 10% in New Zealand and growing rapidly among the under 30s, where 16% of respondents support the idea.

Then, in the US, the acceptability of polygamy has been increasing, to an average of 14% of respondents in 2014.

Additionally, a few widely condemned actions, such as polygamy, have become slightly less taboo. Five percent of Americans viewed polygamy as morally acceptable in 2006, but that is now at 14%. The rise could be attributed to polygamist families being the subject of television shows — with the HBO TV show “Big Love” one example — thus removing some of the stigma.

Acceptbility poll results by party affiliation

This bodes well for the long-run future of non-monogamous marriage in the West.



The slippery slope from same-sex marriage to polygamy

Via Full Marriage Equality, a great commentary on the slippery slope of same-sex marriage:

We’ve all heard it before: “If we allow gay marriage, next thing people will be trying to legalize polygamy!” Which statement will get one of two responses from pro-marriage-equality folks: “That’s ridiculous!” or “Uh… yeah?” You may guess that I’m in the latter category, and you’d be right. But then the stereotypical protester will say, “And next thing they’ll allow a man to marry a dog, or an eight-year-old!”

[…] Well, I’ll tell you: totally fallacious. And that’s because there’s a big brick wall about halfway down the slippery slope. And on that wall, in bold capital letters, are the words “CONSENTING ADULTS.” Consent is the watchword of modern sexual ethics. It’s the difference between BDSM and abuse. It’s the difference between polyamory and cheating. It’s the difference between rape and… sex. Anything two (or more) able, informed adults give consent to in private is generally considered okay. […] There’s a little philosophical room around the question of who is able to give consent, but it’s generally understood that children, animals, and the severely mentally impaired (either permanently or temporarily, as by alcohol) are not.

[…] It’s hard to imagine what other questions can sensibly be invoked.People who argue the gay marriage -> polygamy -> pedophilia -> bestiality slippery slope are usually correlating these four very different behaviors because all of them seem “unnatural.” But “natural” and “unnatural” are subjective and mostly meaningless categories. “That’s not natural” really just means “That makes me uncomfortable.” And I hope we can all agree that an individual’s sense of comfort or discomfort makes for a really lousy moral guide. Someone might say, “But that goes against my religious code!” Fine, then don’t do that, and encourage your religious brethren not to do it either. But that has nothing to do with whether a thing should be legal or acceptable in the culture outside your religion.

[…] The question with gay marriage has been, “Is it healthy for a child to be raised by same-sex parents?” The preliminary results are in on that one, and the answer is yes. Whenever society takes up the question of polygamy, the same question will be asked, and I think that’s fair. With polygamy, there are additional questions raised, relating to things like citizenship and insurance benefits. But all these questions can and should be answered with hard evidence and studies, not on the basis of people’s gut sense of comfort or discomfort.

[…] Suppose study after study showed that children, in fact, do better when raised by same-sex parents, or polyamorous parents. (I can think of several reasons why either might be so.) How much better would it have to be before you’d support a ban on heterosexual monogamy?We’ve known for decades that children do better when raised by two parents rather than one, but no sane person suggests a law preventing single people from having children. We hold very highly the rights of heterosexual people to live, love, and create families as they see fit. In time, I hope that consenting adults of any number and gender are given the same level of respect.

The fallacy of the “animal marriage” argument has been pointed out before.

I cannot possibly stress how much I agree with this.