Stop stigmatizing polyamorous relationshipsBy Mike Smith | 08/18/2016 10:52am
During the debate over marriage equality, I heard a lot of liberal politicians say something along the lines of "whatever two consenting adults do in the bedroom is none of the government's business."
With this rhetorical approach, liberals and libertarians alike were able to fight for gay and lesbian rights, and won a decisive victory. This kind of language has even been helpful, slowly but surely, in garnering bisexual and pansexual people more recognition. However, this proverbial message, while a step in the right direction, is still too restrictive and denies certain groups social legitimacy; what I am proposing is much more radical: drop the word "two."
There is no legitimate reason to put a numerical limit on other people's intimacy. While there will of course be religious objections, as a matter of public policy, the separation of church and state renders these objections irrelevant. The government should not care how many or few people you are romantically involved with, up to and including marriage. If it sounds like I am advocating for polygamy, that is because I am.
Polygamy gets a bad rap for things it does not directly cause. The United States and many other large countries banned the act because, outside of religious reasons, it often created huge families built around a patriarch who controlled the lives of every family member. This was and still is a very serious issue around the world. However, this toxic environment is less caused by the legal legitimacy of each marriage and more due to the overtly misogynistic cultures in which these families spring up.
To these oppressive patriarchs, women are often less loved ones and more a commodity. Of course, I would never advocate for this type of polygamy, and I hope society will continue to move away from such sexist attitudes. However, there are already laws in place to deal with the struggles, coercion, and abuse found in these types of households. There is no reason to add another law outlawing multi-member marriages overall, which does nothing but deny loving groups of people their happiness and rights.
The only legitimate argument against full-throated support of multi-member marriages is that they would cause legal havoc where two partners are the norm. For example, wills, fifth amendment rights, and divorces become fairly tricky very quickly. In these cases, maybe a concession to having a multi-member marriages is that the parties involved have to sign some slightly more complicated licenses, contracts, and prenups. As long as these marriages are recognized, that seems like a fair trade.
But, overall, marriage equality doesn't end with gay and straight couples. Marriage equality means equality for all. Full stop, no exceptions, as long as all parties involved agree to the terms and conditions. Isn't that is what sex, relationships, and marriage should really be about? Are all parties able to consent and currently consenting? Yes? Then the government and, more broadly, society shouldn't care what you do. Simply do, or not do, whatever makes you happy. Outside of the cold world of government and policy, that also means us, the people, have to accept love as it is presented to you. Love and intimacy should never be judged. It should only be celebrated. When we say "Love is love," there is no asterisk saying "Limit: 2." Love is love is love, and we shouldn't step in the way of that.