“…what slippery slope?

THE power couple of Australia’s increasingly open polyamorous community, Rebecca and James Dominguez, have made Senate submissions urging the legalisation of same-sex marriage, as they promote greater acceptance of multiple-partner relationships.

The couple have led the way in publicly outlining their own journey from monogamous marriage to one in which each has another lover as well.

In her blog, Ms Dominguez, who is an adminstrator with IBM in Melbourne, writes: “My life rocks . . . I am incredibly happy and have almost everything I could possibly want . . .

“I’ve built a house with my husband and my husband’s boyfriend so there are four of us living together in nice harmony. (The fourth household member is Rebecca’s boyfriend.)

A couple of days ago a lawyer friend of mine wrote an email to the NSW Upper House to urge them to oppose a motion up today to endorse same-sex marriage. One senator wrote back and, amongst his reply, said,

As for the argument that equal marriage will inherently lead to marriage of people in group relationships this is unfounded and frankly ridiculous. No one is proposing to extend the concept of marriage beyond being between two consenting adults.

There comes a point, doesn’t there, where you want to ask if these people are actually blind. The push for recognition of polygamous and polyandrous relationships is quite well known and pretending it’s not there doesn’t do the debate any favours. But then that’s how this whole debate is going, anyway – there simply isn’t one. It’s all ultimately emotionalism – we simply dare not deny people what they want. And polyandrists want it, and they’ll be increasingly vocal about it as time passes:

As president of the alliance, Mr Dominguez, an IT specialist in the Victorian public service, wrote to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in support of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010.

” The legal definition of marriage itself has changed over history, such as the removal on restrictions of inter-racial marriage and the provision for divorce,” Mr Dominguez wrote in the submission.

Ms Dominguez wrote in her own submission to the Senate committee: “Just as we have allowed changes in the past to things considered ‘traditional’ (equality of women, humanity of non-white people), we can change ‘traditional’ understandings of things now.”

The couple say they are not championing the idea of legal recognition of polyamorous marriage now but hope it might evolve in decades to come.

“Some time in the distant future we should look at the idea of plural marriage,” said Mr Dominguez.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said: “The A-G is on the record as supporting gay marriage and a conscious vote.

“On the second question (legalising menages a trois as marriages), the government is not considering this.”

If you get the opportunity to, stop and ask a proponent of gay marriage quite what solid argument they have against polyandry being granted “marriage” status that would also not cause homosexual “marriage” to be struck down too. I’d also want to know why the government isn’t considering legalising polygamy and polyandry  alongside homosexual “marriage”- there’s no consistent basis on which to deny one but not the other. To simply say “it’s ridiculous” begs the question. Why is it ridiculous? Now that we’ve decided that

  1. Marriage can be redefined
  2. The basic principle at stake is that people who love each other ought not to be discriminated against by denying them entry to the institution of Marriage

Why not open it all the way up? Incest ought to be included too, for what it’s worth.

Friends, let’s actually keep asking this question and push it hard. Because what we really want to do is expose the utter lack of any sustained argument on the subject here in Australia beyond “it’s not fair”. Well it’s not fair to the polygamists, polyandrists and incestuous couples either, you bigots.

Comments

comments

10 comments on “there were four in the bed, and the little one said…

  1. I think you’re confusing two different debates and are approaching the debate for gay marriage through fear or pessimism. I agree with the senator who recognises they are different arguments. Denying rights to some people because of ‘what might happen later’ is a bit like saying ‘don’t free the slaves because they’ll take our jobs.’

    • hi Shane, thanks for coming and commenting.

      As you might expect, I’m not in agreement. To test that difference can I ask you to answer the question I pose at the end of the OP? What consistent argument is there that denies the right to “marriage” to the groups mentioned above but not to homosexuals?

      btw, is this you? Genuinely fascinating work you’re involved in.

    • Denying rights to some people because of ‘what might happen later’

      But that’s not actually the argument. The argument is that there is no actual reason being put forward to deny those rights. It’s an argument of consistency. Actually, fundamentally it’s an argument that there has been no consistent argument on the side of those who seek to redefine marriage other than “we love each other, why should we be denied?”

  2. Hi David, yep that’s me. Similar to your question, what consistent argument is there that denies gay people marriage? It seems that you’re using a cause and effect argument to make a case for denial – if they marry, then what comes next? What I’m saying is that’s unfair on all of those people who are advocating for marriage between two people – gay or otherwise. That’s why I think they are different issues and see little point in attempting to combine them. My marriage – a heterosexual one between two people – likewise does not promote polygamy. If an act of parliament were to give homosexuals the right to marriage, so too can an act of parliament prevent polygamy. I don’t think gay marriage is like throwing a stone in a pond and watching the rings grow, which I think is what you’re saying.

    • hi Shane. You ask:
      what consistent argument is there that denies gay people marriage?

      I’d put it simply this way:

      Our culture (and many others) has long recognised that marriage is the life-long monogamous union of a man and woman. It’s done so not on an arbitrary basis but so that our society would benefit. One of the chief benefits is that it protects women and children by enforcing protective rights in law.

      By saying that we are recognising what numerous studies show – that children have the best outcomes when raised by both biological parents. Marriage serves to solidify and encourage the proper working of those relationships by demanding assurances of the respective parties and, in particular, of men. It is, therefore, not simply about affirming affection between a man and a woman but ordering the expression of that affection so that it is not abused but, rather, supported and encouraged.

      Current (and historical) proposals have gradually eroded this understanding with devastating results all around us. Go ask the local school principal what the primary cause of disfunction in their school communities is and they’ll tell you straight – broken families. I’m sure you have seen much the same in your research.

      The current suggestion is one that puts the nail in the coffin of this gradual erosion. I’d say it’s not so much that “gay marriage” undermines marriage, as that it signals how far that undermining has gone. For a good indication of where it might all yet go articles like this are illuminating.

      So when we say that homosexuals can marry we are actually saying that we think the definition of marriage ought to be radically changed. The current drive has moved that definition far from taking account of and affirming responsibilities and all the way to insistence upon moral affirmation of one’s desires. If you’re honest you’d have to admit that the gay marriage argument amounts to “we demand to be recognised and affirmed”. The thing is, such relationships are already recognised and affirmed. Civil partnerships give every legal right to homosexual couples that married couples have. But that’s not enough – there must now be (we’re told) State-enforced equivalence. We’re being asked to legislate a lie – that there is no essential difference between homosexual and heterosexual relationships which is a physiological and psychological nonsense. They are qualitatively different types of relationships. That doesn’t mean in and of itself that one must necessarily conclude that one is superior to the other, but simply that they’re different. The push for “gay marriage” is the demand that we legislate an untruth and then we will, no doubt, prosecute those who disagree. And all not because there is a need to provide any rights but because a small segment of a small segment of our population absolutely insists that they be affirmed in every way by the State.

      Sensational as it might sound, we will finally utterly divorce marriage conceptually from child-raising and bring in an almost Orwellian redefinition of long-understood terms with penalties for those who disagree.

      That’s the argument. I realise there’s more to be said and dealt with but that’s a quick stab at the fundamentals.

    • Shane, let me close the circle on my argument.
      If I’m right, then we’re seeing a major shift in the way that marriage is defined. You are right to argue that we can or cannot legislate for polygamy etc as we wish, but my point is that there’s no consistent basis on which to draw that line once you’ve made the affirmation of emotion and desire a key determinant.

  3. As a proponent of gay marriage, I can provide several solid reasons for not recognising polygamy whilst simultaneously recognising equal marriage.

    While you may oppose same sex marriage, the general argument used by marriage equality opponents in Australian is that an alternative form of equal recognition is acceptable.

    Nobody, however, proposes that there should be any recognition of polygamous relationships, whether it is through de facto arrangements or civil unions.

    This is because polygamous relationships, on their own, are not something the state wishes to endorse. The state can argue that polygamist unions, by their nature, are inherently unequal, perhaps exploitative arrangements. It’s hard to call a marriage of two women and one man an equal or mutual relationship.

    Further, recognising already existing polygamist relationships would require the legal enforcement and legitimisation of coercive, oppressive and abusive religious marriages that are an affront to female rights. In NSW, the law has had to actually recognise and grant de facto status to such marriages conducted overseas to protect the rights of women involved, so as she is not disinherited or otherwise treated unfairly during the termination of the arrangement.

    Therefore, the innate problems with polygamist marriage should be enough to not just oppose recognising them as marriage, but a sound basis on which to oppose any recognition or legitimisation of such unions whatsoever.

    However, there is a fundamental difference between polygamist and homosexual marriage that is consistently ignored by both sides- the state has a right to establish a definition of marriage, and a well demonstrated right to discriminate on the basis of choice.

    It does not, however, have a right to discriminate, exclude and disadvantage on the basis of characteristics that were not a choice and cannot be changed. Disallowing polygamy does not disadvantage and discriminate against a characteristic that is not a choice and can’t be changed- the illegality of gay marriage does.

    Even if you argue that gay marriage is a manifestation of a behaviour- disallowing same sex marriage still disadvantages those who are of a different sexual orientation by having the law unfairly regulate their conscience on the basis of their sexuality, and reducing their legal options and choices.

    If only anti marriage equality Christians would recognise that the law ought to accommodate the needs of both communities under one roof- civil marriages would be available to the LGBT community, and religious groups would be free to not recognise or perform marriages they oppose or don’t recognise.

    • hi Patrick, thanks for commenting here. Apologies as well for the delay in getting it up – first-time commenters get held in moderation and then Sunday morning is obviously very busy here 😉

      I particularly appreciate differing positions. Do allow me, however, to make a number of responses:

      Nobody, however, proposes that there should be any recognition of polygamous relationships, whether it is through de facto arrangements or civil unions.

      This is because polygamous relationships, on their own, are not something the state wishes to endorse. The state can argue that polygamist unions, by their nature, are inherently unequal, perhaps exploitative arrangements. It’s hard to call a marriage of two women and one man an equal or mutual relationship.

      Look, your first statement is simply incorrect as the article cited more than clearly demonstrates. Like it or not there are those who are advocating for polygamous and polyamorous relationships to be legalised. To argue otherwise is simply to ignore the facts.

      In other countries the push has gone even further. In Canada, for example, it’s been taken to the courts already.

      Further, recognising already existing polygamist relationships would require the legal enforcement and legitimisation of coercive, oppressive and abusive religious marriages that are an affront to female rights. In NSW, the law has had to actually recognise and grant de facto status to such marriages conducted overseas to protect the rights of women involved, so as she is not disinherited or otherwise treated unfairly during the termination of the arrangement.

      Therefore, the innate problems with polygamist marriage should be enough to not just oppose recognising them as marriage, but a sound basis on which to oppose any recognition or legitimisation of such unions whatsoever.

      but that’s a little like arguing that the recognition of heterosexual marriage somehow legitimises abusive husbands, ditto for homosexual relationships. Polygamist or polyamorist relationships do not have to be, their proponents will argue, abusive. Quite the contrary. Again, the article above shows a situation where all 4 parties enter with full consent and knowledge.

      Your argument is merely an opposition to abuse, not an argument against the essence of those relationships.

      However, there is a fundamental difference between polygamist and homosexual marriage that is consistently ignored by both sides- the state has a right to establish a definition of marriage, and a well demonstrated right to discriminate on the basis of choice.

      No, that’s not actually a fundamental difference between polygamist/polyamorist and homosexual marriages, is it? It’s merely a statement that the State can legislate as it sees fit. What you haven’t done is actually demonstrate the difference between those two sorts of relationships that allows the state to discriminate between them. You say that the State has the right (and even, I would argue, the obligation) to discriminate but you don’t actually say why.

      It does not, however, have a right to discriminate, exclude and disadvantage on the basis of characteristics that were not a choice and cannot be changed. Disallowing polygamy does not disadvantage and discriminate against a characteristic that is not a choice and can’t be changed- the illegality of gay marriage does.

      I just don’t think this makes any sense. Entering into a polygamous relationship is no less of a choice than entering into a heterosexual or homosexual relationship.
      But if your appeal is to the “inate” nature of homosexual attraction then why will you not concede that polygamous attraction is inate, if only for a small section of our population (just as one would have to argue for homosexual desire)? After all, every couple of years we get another evolutionary scientist arguing that men are naturally promiscuous. Indeed, evolutionary theory has led some to conclude that the only rational behaviour for a man is to impregnate as many women as possible.

      Even if you argue that gay marriage is a manifestation of a behaviour- disallowing same sex marriage still disadvantages those who are of a different sexual orientation by having the law unfairly regulate their conscience on the basis of their sexuality, and reducing their legal options and choices.

      But what actual “legal option” do homosexuals not have? What single right to homosexuals in a civil partnership not have that married heterosexuals do? There is no disadvantage to them other than the right to be called “married”. But, frankly, many couples call themselves that anyway.

      As for the reduction of choice – we’re back to the polygamists. You’re advocating we discriminate unfairly against their right to choose how to order their relationship and have the State legitimise it.

      If only anti marriage equality Christians would recognise that the law ought to accommodate the needs of both communities under one roof- civil marriages would be available to the LGBT community, and religious groups would be free to not recognise or perform marriages they oppose or don’t recognise.

      But here’s the thing – the law does accomodate the needs of homosexuals who wish to commit to each other. What it doesn’t do at present is pretend that homosexual and heterosexual relationships are equivalent because, well, they’re not. That’s a biological and psychological fabrication.

      And my freedom not to perform or recognise the marriage isn’t really protected or actually the main issue. I don’t simply want freedom of conscience in this matter (and I don’t actually think I will have it in the long-run, quite the contrary); I actually want what is best for our society as a whole. I want the role of mothers and fathers committing to each other and raising the children of that union to be protected and encouraged by the State since it is to the good benefit of our society.

      And, believe it or not, I want to defend the rights of a homosexual couple to commit to each other and have that relationship recognised and protected by Law.

      And all those things currently exist. There is no right that remains to be given other than the State-sanctioned and enforced affirmation of homosexual relationships as “marriage”. And there simply hasn’t yet been a decent argument made as to why we ought to so radically redefine the basic fundamental structure within our society.

      • Yes it is a matter of choice, and allowing any type of marriage will only benefit the state and society. This would stop the serial monogamy, which is much part of our modern culture – how many blended families are out there ? Monogamy or polygamy is a choice, and adhering to a religious view of marriage does not cover what the reaility is out there in the community. You are right not long ago, inter-race or even inter-faith marriage were sanctioned by states, this is a free society and not a theocracy – why should we frown on polyamous marriages – where only a decade ago most people were shaking their head at homosexual marriages and now according to many in the media it is accepted. Any choice should not be discriminated against,, and that is the stance the Government should take – if you want to live by your religious priciples then fine do so or move to a theocracy.

        • hi Mark. You write:

          allowing any type of marriage will only benefit the state and society. This would stop the serial monogamy, which is much part of our modern culture

          I’m not sure what the logic is here at all. How does legalising gay marriage somehow “stop serial monogamy”?

          Monogamy or polygamy is a choice, and adhering to a religious view of marriage does not cover what the reaility is out there in the community.

          I’m not aware of anyone arguing that it does.

          … this is a free society and not a theocracy …

          Indeed, but then my argument was not a theological one so, again, I’m not quite sure what point you’re responding to.

          Any choice should not be discriminated against,, and that is the stance the Government should take

          So then you’re in favour of “equal rights” and the labelling of polygamous, polyandrous, polyanerous and, of course, incestuous relationships as “marriage”? They’re all a choice, all people who feel they should be recognised and affirmed.

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