According to the Sydney Star Observer, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is getting its holy/frilly knickers in a twist over continued and growing support for equal marriage rights for same sex couples. The latest nuttiness, covered in “Christian Lobby ‘getting desperate’“, runs along these lines:
ACL claims if marriage is redefined, as it has been in Canada, “the next push will be for marriage to include polygamous relationships, as is currently being tested in a court in Canada”.
The SSO quotes Alex Greenwich, the convener of Australian Marriage Equality:
“In Australia the definition of marriage is quite clear — it is a loving committed union freely entered into by two people, something which can easily encompass same-sex partners but which is fundamentally different from polygamy which is usually one man marrying and lording it over several women,” he said.
“By using a desperate scare-tactic like the threat of polygamy, the Australian Christian Lobby is showing it has no real case against allowing same-sex couples to marry.”
This leads me to the fundamental question: what is actually wrong with polygamy? Sure, forced polygamy, or polygamy without all parties mutually respecting or loving each other would be wrong: but why do so many groups get themselves wound up into a mess over the notion of polygamous or polyamorous relationships?
Franklin Veaux drew a “map of non-monogamous relationships” – it may be based partly in humour, but it does serve to emphasise a very important point: the conservatives of the world, obsessed with what others do in private, and terrified of sexual expression, would have us believe that there are no shades of grey – there is “normal sexual behaviour” and “depraved sexual behaviour”.
That map looks like this:
There’s a lot of non-monogamous relationships on that map, with even polygamous and polyamorous relationships just forming a small subset. About the only one I struggle with is the “cheating” one: simply because in my personal opinion, relationships should be founded on honesty. (Or to put it another way: there’s no such thing as an open relationship where only one partner knows the relationship is open…)
The most simple question in this entire debate is this: so long as (a) everyone in the relationship is happy with it, (b) all enter into the relationship of their own free will, (c) all in the relationship are legal adults, and (d) all are free to leave the relationship … what right does society have to prevent the relationship from happening?
So I’ll throw the ACL’s fear right back at them: who cares if, as a result of allowing same-sex marriage, society then starts to evaluate whether 3-way (or indeed, n-way) relationships should be legally recognised?
The people in those relationships will care – will care a lot.
And we should support them.