Cory Bernadi, one of the arch conservatives of Australian politics, has been running around over the last couple of days claiming “vindication” on previously linking marriage equality to bestiality because there’s a petition circulating to also allow polygamous marriages.
Cory has a real bone to pick over marriage equality, and much of his contention seems to be the old ‘slippery slope’ argument that allowing marriage equality will be the start of the end of all decency in civil life; it’d lead to polygamous marriages and then end in people campaigning to be able to marry their pets and achieve some form of bestial equality.
Cory comes across as a histrionic buffoon on this subject, but a dangerous one, because he’s part of the party that will very likely be in charge of Australia by mid September. He’s also somewhat confused on the notion of consent.
This seems to be a common problem people have when using the slippery slope argument. Consent is legally acknowledged as something that can only occur between people who are of sound mind.
My partner of 16 years could consent to marry me because he’s of sound mind, but we currently can’t because of Australia’s backwards political attitudes (unreflective of overall society) towards marriage equality.
I have two cats – one 10, and one 9 years old. I’m not into bestiality, because I like the living entities I’m engaging in sexual concourse with to be homo sapiens too. My cats can’t consent to being in a relationship with me because they can’t communicate with me in such a way as to achieve consent (not that I’m looking!) They’re pets. They are in fact members of my family, but they’re not members of my family that I want to have sex with or marry.
Cory Bernadi, and others like him, fail to understand this most basic concept of consent.
If consent can’t be given, people can’t marry.
That’s equally why people can’t marry their toasters, or their computers, or any other myriad inanimate objects they may discover.
But what about consent to marry between multiple adults?
It’s amazing how terrified some people are of polygamy. It surely couldn’t be a religious terror … after all, major religious texts are littered with examples of people being in all sorts of polygamous relationships. Hell, even King David was a randy old sod who apparently had 8 wives and 10 concubines.
The real reason, I think, these people get so upset about polygamous marriage is it forces them to see that monogamous heterosexual relationships aren’t the only way relationships can work. Monogamy isn’t a guarantee that a relationship will work, and nor is a lack thereof a sign that it won’t work. They gay community may be well known for this, but there’s a lot of heterosexual couples out there who equally have play arrangements. I’m sure people like Cory would like to call those arrangements cheating, but if all people in the relationship know and are comfortable with it, it can’t be called cheating.
The real reason these people get upset about the idea of polygamy seems to be because they get squeamish around the notion of sex.
Sex … sex sex sex sex sex. I didn’t explode in outrage while saying it and I certainly didn’t get so turned on by repeated use of the word sex that I felt compelled to go copulate with my kettle. But it does leave me wondering what must go on in the minds of these people who run around getting upset about polygamy.
If you don’t want to be in a polygamous relationship, there’s an easy answer – don’t be! In the same way that people who are mature in their thinking don’t care about the difference between open and closed relationships, people who are mature in their thinking don’t particularly care if a relationship is between 2 or 200 people.
As long as they all consent.