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September 29, 2005

Comments

Well, you can ground a principled distinction b/t gay marriage and polygamy in that way, but can you do so on constitutional grounds? There's no orientation towards access to birth control, but see Griswold.

what about religious reasons for polygamy?

Ugh:

I don't think there's a Constitutional right to gay marriage. It's purely a decision for the legislature.

what about religious reasons for polygamy?

I'll dodge that question for the moment, since I'm late for dinner.

Leaving aside the more bizarroland parts of this (And now! The Grudge match! Holland and Al Queda fighting for the right to topple Western Civilization as we know it!! Are you ready to ruuuuumble???), this struck me.

it is that tinkering with the basic institutions of family and moral structure by government fiat -- however well-intended -- is usually unwise and fraught with unintended consequences.

Isn't this the basic argument by libertarians to cut back on the number of rules we have? I guess any assertion can support any argument these days.

Dan Savage's most recent column also dismantles this slippery slope. (link) In this paragraph, he is quoting EJ Graff, author of What is Marriage For:

"Once upon a time, the West had a 'traditional' marriage philosophy." The husband owned his wife, whatever children she bore him. But capitalism eventually came along—thank God!—and freed us from those confining sex roles. "Each of us now has to make a living independently, based on individual talents and efforts rather than traditional roles. Over time this led to gender equality in the job and marriage market. Between 1850 and 1970, every developed country struck down its sex-based rules, both in labor (i.e., women can be plumbers and legislators) and in marriage (i.e., married women can own property, hold jobs without hubby's permission, have custody of children, and even—gasp!—say no in bed). The result: Gender equality is today's governing public philosophy, in marriage and in much else. For 150 years, courts and legislatures have changed marriage law to fit this philosophy, under which same-sex couples fit just fine." In other words, heterosexual marriage is not one man taking ownership over one woman, but two individuals, as equals, committing to each other. "The only sex-based restriction left in marriage law," Graff says, "lies in the entrance rules, where it no longer belongs."
As someone who has expressed ambivalence about polygamy, I think that Graff puts the social and historical problem with "traditional marriage" pretty damned well.

Are there Constitutional grounds for outlawing polygamy? Not in the Federal Constitution, I don't think. Utah gave it up under threat of invasion and with the carrot of statehood extended.

Does anybody know how US immigration law treats polygamous marriage?

As is its wont in matters of the decay of Western civilization, the Netherlands is leading the way.

I'd say that if Doctor Evil wants two brides, then who's going to stop him? Not me, that's who.

But, more seriously, it seems to me that Tacitus (sorry, mean "Josh") is saying that he is opposed to government intervention in family matters, but then seems quite bitter when a state steps out of the way and lets people make their own living arrangements.

I don't think there's a Constitutional right to gay marriage. It's purely a decision for the legislature.

Ok. But let's assume that it is a Constitutional right, is there a Constitutional distinction you can make between gay marriage and polygamy? (not that you have to particpate in my little game)

I like this cross-blogging thing.

My basic issue with Josh's argument, and I said so on Tacitus, is that it boils down to scapegoating gays. Josh pointed out, rightly I believe, that in our society, polygamy leads to sexual and child abuse and chronic poverty, and that's a pretty solid reason for legislating against it, in my opinion.

But gays getting married will not, in and of itself, lead to an increase in sexual or child abuse or chronic poverty, quite the opposite, in fact (gays who wish to adopt are generally screened much more rigorously than straights and generally only adopt when they're well able to affort it). So Josh's argument seems to be that in order to stop the slippery slope (I know, I know) that would lead to straights marrying more than one person, gays should sacrifice their dreams of marriage.

With all due respect, I don't see how that's our responsibility.

In the Brusselsjournal.com link above, it becomes clear that the threesome has entered into a civil union, not a marriage.

The distinction is pretty important, I'd think.

Of course, Edward, your argument is probably like a red flag to a bull as it is probably interpreted as you refusing to do what you can to make society better. Mind you, I'm not saying that this is the case, but an impression that I get from these debates is 'how dare you not do your part to save society'. I think that there is a quite interesting comparison with cases where I think that people could give up something and make a substantial difference that are vociferously opposed.

Of course, Edward, your argument is probably like a red flag to a bull as it is probably interpreted as you refusing to do what you can to make society better. Mind you, I'm not saying that this is the case, but an impression that I get from these debates is 'how dare you not do your part to save society'.

I considered that, but I believe in equality. So, all things being equal, I'm generally willing to accept any personal sacrifice to make this country better that Josh is also willing to make.

People can talk about slipping down the slope all they want, but I'm just not seeing it with this one. Gay people are already living together. Whether or not they are to be permitted to do so is not on the table. (Thankfully!). They are making informal commitments to eachother, in front of their families, friends, and god(s).

We already know how allowing people to marry affects society. It ain't for the worse.


There's an impressive looking exposed layer of red rock -- cinnabar, I think -- curving to nearly vertical on the cliff face a couple miles north of Yellowstone. It's been known for many years as Devils Slide. In the 80s, a cult bought the adjacent land (from Malcolm Forbes) and sought to rename the feature Angels Ascent.

Decriminalizing bigotry might seem dangerous, but that's only if you buy into the bigotry.

(As I've said before, I think the current state of the law in 49 states is unconstitutional, and am confident that in my lifetime this will be recognized in the US Supreme Court.)

You'll get my bazooka when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Edward, you must understand that you are being straitjacketed into Tacitus' "consistent life ethic" and there shall be no deviation, so to speak.

That said, I admire Tacitus' honor here. I've tried it myself, but life got in the way. I wish him well and promise not to pile on if he ever (when) succumbs to inconsistency. If anyone can achieve perfection, I'm sure it will be him.

I agree with Von on this topic.

As for Paul Cella, reading his grim view of the world wherein EVERYTHING is leading us down the whirlpool of decadence makes me want to go out commit lots of fun stuff whether its legal or not, since time is short.

As for Malkin (cited by Tacitus), if she is a model of consistency and morality, I expect to slit my throat soon.

I admit though that these folks may have a point. I took a look at the picture of the happy threesome in the Netherlands and admit to having bad thoughts. Like: what does a bald, goofy-looking guy like that have that I don't, that he gets two women? How can this be? Ah, yes, the women are bisexual? Still, food for thought. On the other hand, wait until they BOTH want the gutters cleaned out. He'll rue the day.

Plus, I'm a little put-out by this continual bashing of the Netherlands. I visited their last year with my lovely wife and son. Except for a dirty-look or two from a couple of Islamic guys, the people were wonderful. Yes, sex is right there. But so is the art. And everyone rides bicycles, rather than engaging in immoral (but highly American and consistent) activities like using up too much fossil fuel and melting the ice caps. (Make no mistake, I favor the immediate melting of the ice caps cause its fits my lifestyle. I want neither marriage or civil unions with the ice caps. They make me sick.) It's amazing how sex in all its awful and wonderful permutations can take time away from screwing your fellow man, or woman.

Also, we could learn something from the Dutch about dykes if we weren't so afraid of learning something from them about dykes.

for the umpteenth time, they are incredibly easy to distinguish on Constitutional grounds if you give heightened scrutiny to sexual orientation under the equal protection clause, and there is no logical reason to give heightened scrutiny to religion and gender under the equal protection clause and deny it to sexual orientation.

Domestic violence and marital rape became illegal and taboo relatively recently. Not all change is good. Not all change is bad.

Just a reminder that the Pilgrims braved starvation and other perils of the New World to escape the greater horror: their sons dating Dutch girls.

Edward, you know that the next argument will be that Josh has given up his right to marry men so you should do likewise. Plus, he'll let you marry women. ;^)

But seriously, trying to find more on Jackmormon's question.

The 1907 immigration act has this

That the following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States: [snip] polygamists, or persons who admit their belief in the practice of polygamy,

I'm imagining someone immigrating from the Netherlands, and the INS guy, wise to the fact that this is someone on the bleeding edge of destroying civilization, slips in the question, 'do you respect the laws of your native country?', the guy says, of course he does, and the INS guy leaps up and say 'A-ha! I knew it!' and stamps a big 'rejected' on the form. Whew! That was a close one!

This, from an immigration lawyers site shows a bit more complexity

3. Polygamous marriage

Polygamous marriage is always not recognized as a valid marriage. However, please note: the family members of the first marriage of a polygamous family may enjoy their immigration benefits if the benefits have already been conferred. For example, Joseph, a U.S. citizen married Amy, an alien, and petitioned to bring Amy to the U.S. Accordingly, Amy gets green card. Later, Joseph married Beth, also an alien. The immigration benefits already conferred to Amy may not be denied based on the polygamy. However, if Joseph files an immigration petition for Beth based on the latter marriage, the petition will be denied based on the polygamy.

We don't know if Joe is native or naturalized, so I don't know if we can pull his passport for his ill-advised change in life philosophy (from the standpoint of immigration, though thinking that one man can keep two women happy is also ill advised imho)

This is also of interest

A spouse is a legally wedded husband or wife. Merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration. Common-law spouses may qualify as spouses for immigration, but only if the laws of the country where the common-law marriage occurs recognizes common-law marriages and grants them all the same rights and obligations as a traditional marriage. In cases of polygamy, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse for immigration.

This is obviously one reason why we have to stop other countries from legalizing same sex marriage, because we would be forced to recognize them. Shock and Awe on Canada and Spain seems in the cards.

Sorry about being a little less than dead serious about this, but looking at the picture of the blushing brides and the happy hubby from the Brussells Journal, this does not strike me as something that is going to lead to smouldering ruins of our cities. And now I see that McManus and Thullen have beaten me to the punch(lines). I am not worthy.

Of course, googling leads to any number of rather amazing essays (amazing as in 'How could anyone be stupid enough to write this?'), and let me share two from the VDare site
Sierra Stalinists Take Note: Laws Against Polygamous Drug-Addicted Immigrants Are Still On The Books! (They’re Just Not Enforced.)

This has the following quote

"All foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States must prove the negative—that they are not inadmissible under all grounds of inadmissibility in the Immigration Act."

Generally, when someone points out something like this, it is in the context that it is impossible, but for the life of me, it sounds like the writer is agreeing with it.

There's also this.
Hmore Hmong? Polygamous Hmong?

The mind boggles.

Josh pointed out, rightly I believe, that in our society, polygamy leads to sexual and child abuse and chronic poverty, and that's a pretty solid reason for legislating against it, in my opinion.

Is there any statistical evidence for this? There are numerous cultures around the world that allow for polygamy. Do they all have higher poverty and child abuse rates?

There is a contradiction at the core of Josh's thinking, as pointed out above by double-plus-ungood:

...it seems to me that Tacitus (sorry, mean "Josh") is saying that he is opposed to government intervention in family matters, but then seems quite bitter when a state steps out of the way and lets people make their own living arrangements.

The best example of this is his nonsense about how no-fault divorce causes the breakdown of the family. Marriages do not fall apart because the law allows them to be dissolved without litigation. They fall apart for reasons having to do with the morals and values of the citizenry, and are not preserved by coercive state action. No-fault simply recognized the futility of trying to preserve failed marriages by coercive means. Putting up legal roadblocks to end failed marriages has very little effect on the inclination of people to leave relationships.

He would much prefer that the government coerce people to stay in failed marriages -- as if that promotes stable families. Somehow, this is not "tinkering" by the government. That would be true only if the coercive version of the Catholic view of marriage was recognized as the only valid model.

At the core of this type of anti-gay marriage belief is a broder view that multiple forms of relationships are invalid and that state power should be used to coerce people from being able to enjoy them. That is his agenda.

I just have to say: speaking as an actual ethicist, the supposed connection between disapproving of gay marriage and morality has always been a complete and total mystery to me. Heck, the supposed connection between disapproving of gay anything (or: anything not immoral on other grounds, like gay domestic violence, or gay infidelity) and morality has always been a mystery to me. This was true even when I was Christian and believed all sex outside of marriage, and thus (at the time) all gay sex, to be sinful: I believed that because I couldn't see how to read the Bible in any other way with a straight face, but why sex outside of marriage was sinful, I had no idea. And why denying the possibility of marrying the person one loves to people should be thought to be in any way moral made even less sense.

I suppose I should read Tacitus to see what on earth this has to do with a 'consistent life ethic', but I think I'll pass.

dmbeaster: good point. Plus: just a little while ago he was arguing that the government had no business supporting domestic violence shelters, since that was just not its job. Why it then gets to force people who don't want to to stay together is also a mystery.

What I found most compelling about Josh's post is that the first sentence leads inexorably to the conclusion that the state should not license marriage at all.

once it does so, however, my view is that the Equal Protection clause should have some bite to it.

Tacitus' points about divorce and gay marriage are pure nonsense--the former, particularly, being post facto rationalization of an inconsistently-applied ideology, and none of it rising to a level deserving a thought-out response.

And von, really. This post is unworthy of you. If you were trying to demonstrate a comprehensive ignorance of polyamory and the sea of difference between it and polygamy by consistently conflating them, then you succeeded. It fatally undermines what is otherwise a valid point to be made about slippery slopes.

Polyamory is a lifestyle with as many different variations as there are people practicing it, the common thread of which typically being the ability to have loving and/or intimate relationships honestly and ethically with more than one person. I feel confident stating that you don't know a thing about it, because if you had you wouldn't have been able to write this piece. A successful poly relationship is as healthy as a successful monogamous relationship, and while a number of people in poly relationships would like the option of marrying more than one of their partners and formalizing a group family that already exists, it is not the defining aspect of the relationship style, and most poly people recognize that this isn't a law that's likely to change anytime in the near future.

As far as polygamy goes, it sounds like you are sourcing most of your piece from the practice of Mormon polygamy in the United States. This isn't surprising, but given the purpose and exploitative nature of that religion's original approach to polygamy, I would suggest it also does not stand as a credible exemplar of what shape multiple-partner marriages must take.

Your point about slippery slopes could have stood, and stood better, without the gratuitous swipes at things about which you know little or nothing.

It's weird what people can get away with these days. In arguing against the notion that gay marriage is "as damaging" as single parent families or social welfare systems, there's a tacit acceptance that single parent families and social welfare systems are damaging at all.

Stunning.

When did Von become David Frum?

To be fair to Tac I think the "consistent life ethic" thing and the opposition to gay marriage are entirely separate arguments.

as far as I'm concerned one side of this debate has a much easier time drawing a principled and consistent moral and legal line between gay marriage and polygamy and incest and bestiality, than the other has at explaining why Loving is obviously just and constitutionally required and Goodridge is obviously illegitimate and the harbinger of the doom of my marriage. Most of the arguments against gay marriage and Goodridge--the "activist, unelected judge" argument, the "changing the definition of marriage is too dangerous" argument, the "they didn't think this is what the 14th amendment meant in the 1870s" argument, the "it's unnatural" argument, the "it's against God's law" argument the "(blacks and whites) (gays and straights) are equally free to marry people of the (same race) (opposite sex) so it doesn't discriminate at all" argument; the "there's no right to marriage" argument.

It is POSSIBLE to distinguish the two cases. But to do so you have to actually do so--to explain why it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of race in marriage law and right for judges to change it in defiance of the majority's and ratifiers' will, and right to do so on the basis of sexual orientation. It alarms me the degree to which the exact same arguments used to defend anti miscegenation laws are trotted out without even a hint of embarrassment or the need to distinguish the two cases.

They are still possible to distinguish. I don't mean on the usual grounds of appeals to religious authority or pseudoscience about gay conversion, neither of which are any basis for a court decision. You can do it--you can say that race is immutable and sexual orientation & behavior involve at least some degree of choice, and given the history of slavery and the post civil war amendments race is a special category. But throw in the premises that gender discrimination and religious discrimination should get heightened scrutiny, and that gay people who are going to be murdered for their sexual orientation should be eligible for refugee status--if you think that those cases and Loving are correctly decided, I don't see how it is possible to argue that Goodridge's result is a usurpation. Whereas I have no trouble distinguishing polygamy if I use the equal protection clause argument that I think the courts should use.

I don't really want to get into the polygamy debate btw. I am not taking the position that it's the downfall of civilization so much as the position that it's not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Further to my last post:

Which is to say, less snarkily I guess, that I think you have to have the particular worldview most memorably voiced by the Frumster in order to ignore the multitude of benefits that easy divorce and social welfare systems bring to individuals and society and focus instead on the few problems that it causes for a kind of tradition which has been, if we're being honest, of debatable use to anyone who isn't a white male heterosexual in the first place.

For those who doubt whether a single parent with help from a welfare state can raise a healthy, well balanced child, I have numerous examples including my own nephew, who I will proudly display to anybody who doesn't mind falling in love with a cheeky young lad who talks too much. Mr Trevino is welcome to tell my sister, in person, that the universe at large would be better off had she stuck with his no-good father and relied on him for her money, rather than letting the Evil Government help her get through university and raise a child at the same time. However, I suspect that he will have exactly the same inclination to do this as he does to tell actual gay people who want to get actually married directly that he thinks they are icky.

This debate about government and slippery slopes and all is interesting, but it has absolutely nothing to do with Josh's position on gay marriage. Gay people are sinning and Josh would like them all to stop; but short of that, he certainly doesn't want them to be rewarded for it.

Josh is a man of faith and of the principles that faith requires of him. It is not anyone's right, nor is it in anyone's ability, to change those things.

Now, Josh is an eloquent writer, and he can construct a strong argument that speaks to people who don't agree with the Sin Thing, but debating him on those new terms will never change his mind.

A slippery slope argument exists for Josh because, in this area anyway, there is no separation of church and state. Government reward for one sexual sin means government might reward other sexual sins.

Don't get me wrong -- I love seeing cogent, well-reasoned arguments for gay marriage. It's just a waste of good neurons to present them in response to Josh.

you can say that race is immutable

I cite Michael Jackson as evidence that race is a choice.

The cynic in me says that my fellow gay marriage advocates here are missing a golden opportunity in jumping all over Tacitus' post, the logical conclusion of which is that legalized gay marriage is actually preferable to the half-measure of civil unions.

Of course, such a position is wholly dependent on the specifics of Netherlands law, which appears to allow multiple civil unions but to require monogamy of married couples, and can't be easily generalized to other jurisdictions which could write monogamy requirements into civil union statutes. But those sorts of considerations don't seem to enter into the original argument, so why spoil the fun?

You know, it's not just the Netherlands and Al-Q who are plotting to overthrow Western Civilization. "They" already have a beach head in -- you knew it -- Berkeley. Last weekend's "How Berkeley can you be?" fest had a booth by - ta-da - polyamorists (among the usual proponents of weed and opponents of circumcision and other worthy "me, it's about ME" causes).

By the way (adding on from above and kind of in response to hilzoy), I am a Christian and I believe it's possible to follow that path and be fine with gay marriage. I know too many faith-filled people who are gay, and too many religious, hypocritical people who are straight, to think that there's any way for humans to sort it all out. God -- not me -- is the judge and God can tell me later that I got it wrong, but will not be angry with me or anyone else for supporting people who want to be committed to each other and create families.

To save some time, here is a link to the last time we all debated marriage in its various formations and Western Civilization.

That last time, as I read it, we agreed that polygamy as institutionalized marriage practiced openly in societies with normative values was a rather different beast than are polyamorous relationships, protected or not by civil unions. Here is my meta-comment on that thread.

In this case, the distinction between marriage and civil union, to repeat myself and Gromit, seems absolutely key. Civil unions are contracts entered into by private parties; in Europe, adult siblings living together are encouraged to file civil union arrangements in order to create recognized households. Does this arrangement condone incest? If you're looking for signs of Western decadence, maybe. If, instead, you think that the law can recognize without necessarily sanctioning diverse household arrangements, then you've got to start thinking more seriously.

Gay rights activists in the US have pressed for marriage rather than civil unions, and, while it took me a while, I now emphatically agree with them. Until all heterosexual partnerships are just civil unions, merely recognized as contractual agreements by the state, then committed partners should settle for nothing less than marriage recognition.

Poly relationships that aren't based on traditional, misogynistic arrangements remain sufficiently underground and purely consensual that that argument is a long ways off. An aggressive social services program that investigates and prosecutes child marriage and spousal abuse among the R-LDS and the Hmong immigrants might help slay some of the straw hordes. Oh, and some of those liberal feminist community outreach efforts might help too.

To reiterate all of my comments on this subject so far: polygamy, as marriage-law, as an historical practice, and as a social convention, has very little to do with polyamorous relationships, and even less to do with the modern Western struggle of gay and lesbian people to have their committed partnerships recognized and protected by marriage law.

***
LJ--thanks for the links on polygamy and immigration law. It looks rather murky, as in: your family will be broken up if you try to do it legally, so do it sub rosa. I'll bet there are a lot of former wives of US immigrants out there and wonder what happened to them. The appalling articles at VDare suggested some fascinating lines of inquiry about how an almost totally unmodernized ethnic group makes its way within US domestic law. Their links (of course) offer a much more nuanced view of how the second generation of immigrants view the traditional marriage arrangements--try this one.

Just a reminder that the Pilgrims braved starvation and other perils of the New World to escape the greater horror: their sons dating Dutch girls.

It wasn't only the Pilgrims. I grew up in a small town where there were plenty of folks with Dutch ancestry. Unfortunately, they, like most Dutch in the Great Lakes states, were descendants of folks who seemed to have come to America to get away from anything that smacked of tolerance and liberalism of any sort.

Apropos of just about every grist for every mill, I just heard on the idiot box that the two gay penguins have broken up.

And being an idiot, I can't link.

This breakup occurred just in the nick of time, because penguin life as we know it was about to go kaput, there being outrage from the uptight and outasight consistent penguins.

No word on, you know, the melting of the ice caps where the penguins engage in heterosexual monogamy and now .... whatever.

Moot question, this sexual thing, in the big watery picture.

I would really, just once, like to see a post trying to criticize polyamory, or the slippery slope thereto, written by someone who gives some sign of actually knowing some polyamorous people.

I mean, your new-age, sensitive anti-gay-marriage conservatives can say quite sincerely that they have gay friends, and speak rather reasonably and sympathetically about them on the way to denying their right to equal protection of the laws. But this is the third or fourth anti-polyamory bit I've seen from that same sort of conservative, and they seem to understand it about as well as the makers of Reefer Madness understood marijuana.

Good for those three happy-looking folks in the Netherlands. May there be many more like them.

Jackmormon: in Europe, adult siblings living together are encouraged to file civil union arrangements in order to create recognized households.

Jack, Europe is a big place. As far as I know, only one country in Europe offers a form of civil union which is open to siblings: France.

The French civil union, Pacte civil de solidarité/PACS, was made open to any two people living together, not to couples as such (not only siblings living together, but including a parent living with a child) in order to make it as little like marriage as possible. Right-wing Christianity is a powerful political force in France, unusually so for a European country, and this plainly affected the structure of the law.

To the best of my knowledge and belief, civil unions in other European countries are generally available only to couples, not to "any two people living together".

That same prudence and experience, however, tells me that there is no "polygamous" orientation. No one is born a polygamist; polygamy is chosen, by you or your culture.

This argument is dubious at best. Indeed, I venture that most men, or at least a great many men, are born polyamorous. We can almost talk pure evolution to demonstrate this: the male's standard reproductive strategy is, not to put too fine a point on it, to impregnate as many women as he can.

This instinct has, of course, been mitigated and reformed over time by civilization (or, more precisely perhaps, by women); but in the state of nature, to employ the theoretical construction so beloved by the early modern philosophers, man was hardly monogamous.

I'll agree that polygamy, in the sense of a legal institution, must be chosen. But who's to stop us from choosing it? With homosexual marriage we are demonstrating that an activist minority can probably get what it wants in these matters. What will you say, Von, in twenty years when there are polygamous lobbying groups, think tanks, what-have-you, all arguing that polygamous Americans are discriminated against (as they are of course: and rightly so)?

As it so often seems to, today's Non Sequitur seems to be written with our discussions in mind.

It's weird what people can get away with these days. In arguing against the notion that gay marriage is "as damaging" as single parent families or social welfare systems, there's a tacit acceptance that single parent families and social welfare systems are damaging at all.

I'll pass the social welfare argument for the moment: Are you suggesting that, all other things equal, a single parent household is better for children than a two parent household? Because I think that the statistical evidence is to the contrary, and thus there's good reason for my tacit accptance that, all things equal, a single parent household is more "damaging" than a two parent household. (This is not no circumstances a single parent household is not preferrable; I'm speaking in generalities.)

Also, how do you know I'm not David Frum?

Turning to Paul:

This argument is dubious at best. Indeed, I venture that most men, or at least a great many men, are born polyamorous. We can almost talk pure evolution to demonstrate this: the male's standard reproductive strategy is, not to put too fine a point on it, to impregnate as many women as he can.

I think you're missing about half of it: This may be the standard male reproductive strategy, but it is not the standard female reproductive strategy. I can personally attest that what men may want in this area is not usually what men will get.

This instinct has, of course, been mitigated and reformed over time by civilization (or, more precisely perhaps, by women);

Why are men's instincts "natural" and women's instincts a pure creation of society?

but in the state of nature, to employ the theoretical construction so beloved by the early modern philosophers, man was hardly monogamous.

I think it's dubious at best to imagine that men can possibly exist in a "state of nature" that does not include a society of sorts. Put another way, society (with their attendant pressures) is man's state of nature.

What will you say, Von, in twenty years when there are polygamous lobbying groups, think tanks, what-have-you, all arguing that polygamous Americans are discriminated against (as they are of course: and rightly so)?

I'll vigorously oppose them.*

von

*Folks may do what they wish in their own homes, of course, but it is a profound error to legitimize polyamorous marriage as a society.

But wait . . . didn’t we just have a giant national debate about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and keeping the government out of the bedrooms of the nation? Suddenly heterosexuals and homosexuals are allowed rights, but not polygamists? If a man and a woman, or a woman and a woman want to get married, that’s okay, but not if a woman, a man, and a woman want to get married? Who’s to say two people’s love is more acceptable than three people’s love? [. . .]

And I don’t see how so many people who supposedly fought for a legislated incarnation of a basic rights principle could so quickly turn their back on that principle in another manifestation.

-- Denise Brundson, The McGill Daily.

There is a huge difference between polyamory as a choice in one's life, and wanting to see it instituionalized in the law. Polygamy is the state of being legally (under religious or secular law) married to more than one person. Whether one codifies that into civil rights of property, visitation, insurance benefits, etc., is a civil debate.

Polyamory is the choice, ability, propensity, to have loving relationships, with or without sex, with more than one person. It has *nothing* to do with law, and there probably shouldn't be laws for or against it. The man and two women who are living happily together will deal with all their relationship issues. The only damn thing the *state* cares about is how it affects their legal property rights and any other rights recognized by the state.

Polyamory is about respecting all of one's partners -- as the above poster said, honestly and ethically. There's no reason to drag it into this debate as it's not germane to a legal discussion. And it would help if one spent some time talking to people in the poly community to find out what it really is. Poly people are not, to my knowledge, looking for legal status of their various loving relationships -- they just want to be left alone to live as they please. Render unto Caesar's only that which truly is Caesar's....

Why are men's instincts "natural" and women's instincts a pure creation of society?

They aren't, but women's instincts are different: they can only have so many children, and thus have an interest in keeping the father around to protect them and their vulnerable children.

I think you're missing about half of it: This may be the standard male reproductive strategy, but it is not the standard female reproductive strategy.

I'm not missing that half. I'm insisting on it.

I think it's dubious at best to imagine that men can possibly exist in a "state of nature" that does not include a society of sorts. Put another way, society (with their attendant pressures) is man's state of nature.

Well I'll be durned. If I knew I could get you to abandon modern political philosophy that easily I would have done it sooner. Recall that Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all grounded their theory of politics on a state of nature. This doctrine is a fundamental source of dispute between modern and ancient.

We can almost talk pure evolution to demonstrate this:

You can if you must, but I tend to find men excusing male infidelity in terms of evolutionary pressure a little unbearable. (However, there's a more scientific discussion on the rarity of monogamy in nature.)

They aren't, but women's instincts are different: they can only have so many children, and thus have an interest in keeping the father around to protect them and their vulnerable children.

Nope. Insofar as we make this about "natural instincts", women's "natural instincts" (and practical ones) are that someone else - or several someones - should be around on a steady basis to help take care of the children. (Anyone who has ever looked after a child under five will understand that we don't even need instinct to explain this: practical necessity suffices.) Whether that "someone else" is the biological father of the child, or believes he is, or is the woman's husband, wife, civil partner, cohabitant, best friend, sister... not really relevant in terms of looking after the child.

For the rest, Von's right: men, like women, have the capacity to decide whether they will stick with one partner, two partners, multiple partners, or none.

What no one has the capacity to decide is their sexual orientation. Whether scientific research ever determines why a person becomes heterosexual - genes, prebirth hormones, upbringing - it's certain that once you are old enough to know what your sexual orientation is, it's too late to change it.

As far as I know, only one country in Europe offers a form of civil union which is open to siblings: France.

You're right, Jes; I overgeneralized.

As for Cella's polygamous state of nature, I say Hooray for birth control!

Wow! I didn't realize that a 20 something college student who wrote/writes a sex column called Probing Insights was such a fundamental part of the national debate in Canada. Wait till Susie Bright hears about this. Also, this Onion piece should be noted.

"Whenever I read a sex column in a magazine or newspaper, I always think, 'I could totally write this,'" said Gilchrist, a 19-year-old undeclared major. "I'm always giving advice to my friends about what kind of condoms to get, or whether you should use lube or not. I'm not afraid to discuss things other people are too embarrassed to talk about."

Although she isn't old enough to drink alcohol, Gilchrist can identify the major kinds of sex toys, knows what "frottage" is, and understands the subtleties of bringing herself to climax.

"Sex is as natural a part of life as birth or death," Gilchrist said. "People shouldn't be so weird about it. I lay it on the line. Penis, vagina—I'm not afraid to tell it like it is."

I propose a registry of sex columnists so we can truly have our finger on the pulse (as it were) of pub[l]ic opinion.

To be fair, Denise is/was also apparently the national director of 'Young Liberals', the youth section of the Canadian Liberal party, so must be in the same elite opinion molding group as the heads of the Young Democrats and the Young Republicans are here in the US.

I include the link because the picture of two women kissing will probably make someone's head explode.

Maybe off topic…but it would be interesting to know which religious denomination the American torturers grew up in. I keep hearing right-wingers blame evry social ill on everthing except their own households.

What is the religious denomination that spawned these modern day demons incapable of co-existing with modern society? It wasn’t Darwin, Marx and Homos who gave birth to some of the most degenerate and depraved Americans to walk the earth.


Sorry, some of these right-wingers are so sick.

Edward writes: "Josh pointed out, rightly I believe, that in our society, polygamy leads to sexual and child abuse and chronic poverty, and that's a pretty solid reason for legislating against it, in my opinion."

This is certainly the case in closed subcultures like the Mormon offshoot groups, where the polygamous marriages are made up only of the limited supply of in-group members, and the community structure supports abuse.

It doesn't seem to apply in the Dutch case, where the partners apparently came from disparate backgrounds, and are full adults making independent decisions (not children or teens being pressured by the family to marry).

Perhaps polygamous marriage should be legal, as long as the participants are over, say, 30 years of age?

Isn't Tacit us a Roman Catholic?

It would follow...since so many depraved and degenerate personalities were raised in that "culture" that his views should be suspect as well?

As for Cella's polygamous state of nature, I say Hooray for birth control!

Having long since been snipped, allow me to echo that wholeheartedly.

This argument is dubious at best. Indeed, I venture that most men, or at least a great many men, are born polyamorous.

"Polyamorous" is not a synonym for "screws anything that moves".

Folks may do what they wish in their own homes, of course, but it is a profound error to legitimize polyamorous marriage as a society.

I repeat from above: polyamorous != polygamous. Continuing to misuse the former term does help your argument. Furthermore, I would have thought argument by assertion to be beneath you, but were I to look only at this thread I would conclude it is all you have to offer on this subject.

Well I'll be durned. If I knew I could get you to abandon modern political philosophy that easily I would have done it sooner.

You can't abandon that which isn't yours. But, in any event, I don't think it's a stretch to say that man's "nature" involves existence in a society. (We don't say that the natural state of wolves is to hunt without a pack; nor would we say that the natural state of pengiuns is to leave their young and wander alone through the artic; why would it be different with man?)

RAR. "does not help". But you knew that.

Isn't Tacitus a Roman Catholic?

I thought he was an adherent of Orthodoxy in one of its manifestations. There were some allusions by Taciteans a while back. Go ask him whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Don't say I sent you.

(Reading "Tacitus is a Roman Catholic," btw, hurts my history bone. Roman, yes ....)

Oh goody: my area of expertise. von: "I think it's dubious at best to imagine that men can possibly exist in a "state of nature" that does not include a society of sorts. Put another way, society (with their attendant pressures) is man's state of nature."

Paul Cella: "Well I'll be durned. If I knew I could get you to abandon modern political philosophy that easily I would have done it sooner. Recall that Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all grounded their theory of politics on a state of nature. This doctrine is a fundamental source of dispute between modern and ancient."

-- von crucially included a qualifier: "a "state of nature" that does not include a society of sorts." Most early modern political philosophy saw the state of nature as involving a society of sorts; it was one of Rousseau's great achievements to see exactly how much the state of nature his predecessors presupposed civilization. Rousseau's state of nature is different, but one of the grounds on which one might criticize it is that it seems to assume that we are basically solitary primates, like orangutans, and not social ones, like chimpanzees, when this seems to be false.

Moreover, the point of early modern political theory was precisely that in this state of nature, we would need to create some sort of government, and that we could (in various ways) use the terms of the original decision to create one to consider the justice of present governments. It was not to suggest that we could live in a state of nature permanently.

But von's larger point, as I understand it, isn't about early modern political theory; it's about the use of the word 'natural'. It is natural to human beings to solve problems; to use language; to acculturate our children; to create and use tools; and so forth. For this reason, while the distinction between 'natural' and 'artificial' makes sense in other contexts (e.g., natural v. artificial sweeteners), it makes no sense as applied to human behavior. Or at least not the kind of sense that implicitly presupposes that if we dropped a human child into an empty savannah, what s/he ended up doing would be 'natural'. That is a profoundly unnatural thing to do to a kid. Creating cultures, by contrast, is natural to us, and trying to strip off this natural function and its effects and calling the impoverished remainder 'natural' is wrong.

Please excuse me if this has been said, I skimmed, but don't have the time to read the whole thread.

I feel it is important to point out that what these people have done is not a marriage, nor a civil union. In the Netherlands we have:

1. Marriage.

2. Civil union. Basically the same as marriage, except there are a few exceptions when it comes to children. In a marriage, the mother's spouse is the child's legal father by default, not so in a civil union.

3. "Samenlevingscontract", which means co-habitation contract, I suppose. This type of contract is basically a set of obligations that the signatories decide for themselves (within boundaries). There is no limitation to the number of people who can eneter into such a contract. For instance, if you wanted to buy a house with some college friends and settle some legal matters you could use this form.

No. 3 is what these three people have signed. The fact that they labeled it a marriage themselves and invited the press (I think) is their business. It isn't even a case of people exploiting a loophole (IMO), more of people giving a controversial label to a relatively commonplace occurrence.

Just to get the facts straight.

Tacitus' hyperbolic moral indignation would be funny if it wasn't so damn insulting and ill-informed...

"But throw in the premises that gender discrimination and religious discrimination should get heightened scrutiny, and that gay people who are going to be murdered for their sexual orientation should be eligible for refugee status".

Why should that be the location of the right? The desire for committed gay relationships may be innate. The desire for polyamorous relationships probably is too. Acting on either is a choice. Both sets of choices are going to hit all sorts of societal disapproval which could be called discrimination.

And what does refugee status have to do with the issue? We give refugee status for all sorts of things that we don't give equal protection status for.

I don't think that's completely true, Sebastian (at least not for asylum purposes, anyway).

it makes no sense as applied to human behavior

As a dichotomy, I agree. Particularly since how we observe, classify and evaluate human behavior is inherently subjected to human paradigms. Paradigms, themselves, are both "artificial" and "natural". Whether they're an intentional artifice is another story that's way beyond my ability to engage in. As is this, but what the hell.

Is the above what's meant by "meta"? I've never really been sure of what's meant by that, other than meaning supplied by context.

My personal point of view is that a) people ought to do as they please, provided what they're doing isn't harmful to others, and b) the government ought to stay out of the business of encouraging or discouraging particular relationships (behaviors, even) except as they tend to violate a). And since this is my personal point of view, you're just going to have to take it with the equanimity with which John Thullen's posts are received. Or, not; no skin either way.

Sorry, I’m incapable of writing eloquent slippery-slope arguments, like Tac and Cella…but I assure you that I write them in the same bigoted spirit as they do.

The adoption of constitutional democracy by the founding fathers was clearly a mistake, since it started us down the long slippery slope that led us through abolition of slavery, universal sufferage, equal rights for women, the end of antimiscegenation laws, and now to the awful position in which we presently find ourselves, standing on the edge of a precipice, contemplating the possibility of gay marriage.

Finis republicae :(

The desire for committed gay relationships may be innate.

Wait -- when we talk about sexual orientation, are we referring to the sorts of sexual attractions we experience or the kinds of relationships we want to enter into? A person can be gay and yet not want to have a committed gay relationship, no? Can we really speak of an "innate" desire to have a certain kind of relationship?

The desire for committed gay relationships may be innate.

What's the shape of one's navel have to do with sexual preference?

Sorry, just had to get that out there.

"Can we really speak of an "innate" desire to have a certain kind of relationship?"

Why couldn't we? Why shouldn't we?

kenB: A person can be gay and yet not want to have a committed gay relationship, no?

True. A person can be straight and yet not want to have a committed straight relationship. Should we therefore abolish straight marriage?

Sebastian: Why couldn't we? Why shouldn't we?

Well, because it might not be true. I don't believe that straights are born with an "innate" desire to get married: neither do I believe that bisexuals or lesbians or gay men are born with innate desires towards marriage. How people perceive marriage - or what people think of as a committed relationship - is quite definitely cultural, not innate. I think we should reserve "innate" for aspects of human behavior that, whether or not they are heritable, are quite definitely unchangeable.

Ok, I find Trevino useful because I think his choice of posting material has predictive value. I believe he is often trying to "prepare the ground" for future policy events, and has good enough connections that he should be watched. He also thinks he is smarter than many of the Republicans around him.

Forget gay marriage. At best, it is returned to the states. We are likely to get two more very conservative justices, and Lawrence will be overturned in the next five years( in addition to Roe and Griswald). Sodomy laws will be renewed in many legislatures, and much more vigorously enforced.

In addition Pope Benedict may start withholding sacraments to politicians and congregations that support heretical and willfully sinful behavior. Like abortion and tolerance of gays.

[to follow on Bob McManus's comment]

... at which point California and New York start the process to amend the Constitution to allow those states to secede lawfully.

"I don't believe that straights are born with an "innate" desire to get married: neither do I believe that bisexuals or lesbians or gay men are born with innate desires towards marriage. How people perceive marriage - or what people think of as a committed relationship - is quite definitely cultural, not innate."

Marriage? Maybe. Having a desire for certain types of relationships could very well be innate. Can this innate desire be enabled or hampered in its expression by cultural pressure? Of course. But the same is true of the more classic definitions of sexuality. I don't see the line between the two such that one could be called 'innate' and the other 'cultural' in a clear way.

I suspect that the desire for multiple partners is indeed innate in many human beings. Its expression in life, like that of many innate desires, can sometimes be curbed by social consequences. Often it isn't curbed even with social consequences. I don't personally have the desire for multiple long term partners, but I'm not attracted to women either.

I think there's a pretty bright line between gay marriage and polygamy. Gay marriage is just like regular marriage as long as you're not specifying gender.

All the 1100 or so rights, contracts, responsibilites and such that marriage confers on your spouse would work exactly the same with a same-sex couple.

But polygamy, that's different -- if you're in the hospital, which one of your co-wives or co-husbands has power of medical attorney? How is your estate handled? What about custody for children?

Everything dealing with marriage is designed for a couple -- two people.

Personally, I don't see a real problem with polygamy -- it's just that every polygamous marriage really needs a skilled lawyer to make sure the thousand-and-one decisions that are so obvious in a two-person marriage are sorted out BEFORE crunch time with a group.

It's simply not something the government can offer a standard contract for, as it does marriage.

Gay-marriage is just a gender-blind version of regular marriage (which is how it should be). Group marriage, on the other hand, is an entirely different kettle of fish, with some major problems in trying to implement it.

He also thinks he is smarter than many of the Republicans around him.

Oh come now, even I'll give him that one.

I think what I'm struggling with is the comparison between a gay or straight sexual orientation and a "polyamorous orientation". The latter seems absurd to me, or at very least to be orthogonal to the gay-straight axis. We're attracted by certain kinds of people -- women or men, thick or thin, tall or short, etc.; and we feel that attraction regardless of whether we happen to be in a committed relationship at the moment or not. The desire for a partiuclar relationship is a different sort of thing entirely -- I don't have an "urge" to be in a monogamous relationship in the same way that I have an urge to be sexually intimate with a woman that's attractive to me.

We may find that we prefer certain sorts of relationships to others, but that preference is governed by many factors (do we favor excitement or stability? are we gregarious or hermetic? do we have good social intelligence? do we have good impulse control? etc. etc.) and can't (IMO) be reduced to an "orientation".

Anyway, there's also some confusion over what is even meant by "polyamory" -- there's a difference between wanting a stable committed relationship with more than one partner and simply not wanting to be tied down to a stable committed relationship of any kind.

Finally, I don't think that the whole question of innateness is relevant anyway -- there are all sorts of "innate" desires people may have that we nonetheless are fully justified in suppressing.

Good thread. Someone with more brain power than I can summon at the moment could have a lot of fun playing with conservatism, consistency, and slippery slopes. When you're defending existing social arrangements on the basis that existing lines, however arbitrary they may look to us, should be assumed to contribute to the social order in ways we don't necessarily understand, I'm not sure that it makes a whole lot of sense to also argue that small changes will naturally and necessarily lead to further changes elsewhere. But I haven't had nearly enough coffee yet to think that one through.

Re polyamory: I think it's wonderful in theory to be able to have committed, loving relationships with multiple unrelated adults, but I find it plenty challenging enough to have a committed, loving relationship with one other adult. Kudos to those who are able to pull it off, but it seems to me that we'd need a lot more social evolution before it would make sense to try to establish some sort of legal standing for it (other than whatever the parties themselves want to work out by contract).

He also thinks he is smarter than many of the Republicans around him.

Oh come now, even I'll give him that one.

There is a category of people who are both (1) considerably smarter than the average bear, and (2) not quite so smart as they think they are. I haven't read enough of Josh's stuff to be sure, but the "consistent life ethic" post, among other things, makes me wonder. Am I the only one who laughed out loud at the first sentence of that one (something along the lines of "I have spent literally months working out a grand unified theory of moral philosophy, and I'm now ready to share it with the world")? It's a laudable effort, but possibly it might be worth stirring another tablespoon or two of humility into the pot.

I find it plenty challenging enough to have a committed, loving relationship with one other adult.

Reminds me of the old joke:

Q: What's the punishment for bigamy?
A: Having two wives.

I am suprised that Von didn't update his original post. Drago explained quite clearly that the three did NOT sign a civil union. Von posted Drago's comments on Tacitus.org so he has seen it.

A "samenlevingscontract" is a contract for people who share a household. The parties signing it decide what should be in it (who owns the furniture, who is the owner of the house, who pays for what, etc.). Couples who don't feel ready for big commitments but who live together use them, but they are also used by students sharing appartments, by widowed siblings living together, etc.

Civil Union or Marriage can be seen as a form of contract (marriage is not religious in the Netherlands, you can only marry religously *after* the civil marriage), but the content is defined by law.

Same Sex Marriages are less than 2% of the marriages in the Netherland, so I doubt wether they have a very erosive effect on the institute. The long-term trent of decreasing numbers of marriage started around 1970. Things like the increase in marriage conditions (not the default form in the Netherlands) might be a better indication of the changed perception of marriage.


Wow, we've got two commentors from the land of Orange here. Can the total collapse of ObWi be far behind? ;^)

You're blaming *US* for the decay of civilization here Liberal Japonicus?
(`_^)

DaveL: I sort of collect amazing sentences written by my undergraduates, and one is: "Aside from being terribly pretentious, self-righteous, and a trifle smug, Plato has obviously reflected a great deal on the subject." This, by a sophomore who fit your description, made me giggle for weeks.

Others, since I was looking at the collection:

Descartes divides the truths into three groups: true, false, and on slim grounds. (My all-time favorite. Wrong on so many different levels.)

Kant claims that the only way of having knowledge is in our mind.

As you know, scepticism results from being a sceptic.

Kant thinks that all of our knowledge is subject to the bias of space and time.

Although, there is no substantial evidence supporting either side, which makes these ideas philosophies.

Freud developed his theory of the unconscious through the process of free association, a process where one says exactly what comes to one's mind.

"Although, there is no substantial evidence supporting either side, which makes these ideas philosophies."

But that statements true, isn't it?

's

Don't mind me, I'm just here to make the fourth(?) comment about Von misusing the word "polyamory". I'm not sure he's reading these things, but I'll try just in case:

Polygamy is to polyamory as a gay marriage is to a gay relationship.

If you described all your married friends as "dating" or vice versa, they might get annoyed with your carelessness - especially if you were doing so while trying to argue a point about marriage. That has nothing to do with whether or not you approve. It's really not that hard.

"(And polyandry or polyamory are but recent inventions.)"

Is this something you have some reputable cites on, or is this something we should accept because "everyone knows it"?

"Indeed, I venture that most men, or at least a great many men, are born polyamorous."

I'm not so sure. At the least, you need to defend the claim that men are born naturally honest and open about their feelings and relationships, are born with good self-understanding, are born naturally able to communicate well about relationships, and are born naturally knowing how to cope with feelings of insecurity or jealousy, since if you aren't reasonably decent at least a good part of the time with those things, you're not going to be, at the least, at all successful in attempting to practice any form of polyamory. You also have to desire spending a lot of time and energy on all those aspects of keeping your relationships healthy and working and worth that time and energy. As it turns out, "polyamory = horniness" is Cliche Number One on the Polyamory Ignorant Assumptions Meter.

Of course, being gay is simply all about being as promiscuous as possible, too. Not to mention finding catches who are as young as possible. Everyone knows that.

"Folks may do what they wish in their own homes, of course, but it is a profound error to legitimize polyamorous marriage as a society."

Have you considered there might be a need to justify such an assertion, not to simply assert it?

"It is a profound error to legitimize the flat tax in society."

I could make that assertion, and it might be valid, but why on earth would I expect anyone to simply accept it as such?

"For the rest, Von's right: men, like women, have the capacity to decide whether they will stick with one partner, two partners, multiple partners, or none.

What no one has the capacity to decide is their sexual orientation. Whether scientific research ever determines why a person becomes heterosexual - genes, prebirth hormones, upbringing - it's certain that once you are old enough to know what your sexual orientation is, it's too late to change it."

And everyone has the capacity for deciding what sort of partner they will "stick with" or not, regardless of their desires. And most people lack the capacity for changing their basic desires, whether that desire is to love a person of another gender, the same gender, another variant (trans-gender, inter-gender, etc), only tall people, only short people, only blondes, only brunettes, or one, two, six, or twelve, people.

Same thing: desires, basic motivations and categorizations, not so susceptible to change; actions, quite susceptible to control; we have that capacity, regardless of what noun or adjective arises.

"...it's certain that once you are old enough to know what your sexual orientation is, it's too late to change it."

How certain are we, actually? I mean certain in a provable way, not in a preferential way. Certainly I've known a fair number of people with a fair amount of fluidity in their preferences and sexual/relationship choices over decades. And, of course, we all know lots of people who show little or no sign of any fluidity. But, certainty would seem to require demonstrating a casual foundation, as well as logically calling for the demonstration of no statistically significant exceptions. Do we have either of those two things?

I think what I'm struggling with is the comparison between a gay or straight sexual orientation and a "polyamorous orientation". The latter seems absurd to me, or at very least to be orthogonal to the gay-straight axis.
If anyone asked me whether I believed in an innate polyamorous orientation or an innate monagamous orientation, I'd say that I didn't have much of an opinion. Actually. Essentially, I dunno. (But, then, some of my opinions on innate sexuality are somewhat heterodox, as well.)

But I've had many years of listening to people I respect (and some I don't, of course) passionately defending their affirmative opinion that they do possess a form of one or the other, and at the very least I'd not consider gainsaying them without clear and convincing evidence that they were wrong, and I knew their lives better than they did.

Their argument is that they're not made to be able to love only one person, but in fact find themselves unable to restrict their feelings, and while there are obvious severe practical limits to how many serious, committed, relationships one can meaningfully engage in during a specific time period, if people find themselves able to engage in two, or three, or six, commitments at a time, whether short or long-term, or a mix, why shouldn't they be allowed to, and even, ultimately, in public, shamelessly, oh my?

And, yes, the questions of relationships and legal recognition are mostly separable, but not, of course, in the cases where people do desire legal recognition of their chosen form of marriage. Since polyamory encompasses a considerable variety of possible forms of relationships, limited largely only by the commitment to honesty, transparency, and faithfulness, some people ultimately desire legal marriage recognition, and others do not. It just varies. And, obviously no one thinks marriage rights for multiple partners will be seen on the horizon any time soon. But that's no reason to let ignorant arguments, or arguments-by-assertion, go by unanswered.

Anyway, there's also some confusion over what is even meant by "polyamory" --
Among who?
...there's a difference between wanting a stable committed relationship with more than one partner and simply not wanting to be tied down to a stable committed relationship of any kind.
I think the latter is called "preferring to be single." Who has ever called that "polyamory"? Which article in which polyamory publication? Which respected polyamorist in which polyamory discussion list or board or newsgroup? Cite? How could anyone be desirous of a comitted polyamorous relationship without desiring to be in a relationship?

Netherlands, meet

Ahh, sugar.

Netherlands, meet Connecticut. Hopefully Dutchmarble and Drago can redistribute their culpability with any Vermonters(?), Connecticanians(?), Canadians and Spaniards on the list.

kenB: Anyway, there's also some confusion over what is even meant by "polyamory"

Gary Farber: Among who?

Not speaking for kenB, but I'd say there is self-evident confusion among some of the participants in this here thread.

Who has ever called that [not wanting to be tied down to a stable committed relationship of any kind] "polyamory"?

I inferred Paul Cella to do so above when he said, "Indeed, I venture that most men, or at least a great many men, are born polyamorous. We can almost talk pure evolution to demonstrate this: the male's standard reproductive strategy is, not to put too fine a point on it, to impregnate as many women as he can." Maybe I'm misreading kenB, but I don't get the impression he's talking about confusion in the polyamory community, but confusion among outsiders (like Mr. Cella).

But that's no reason to let ignorant arguments, or arguments-by-assertion, go by unanswered.

Was that directed at me? I was simply posting my impressions -- it was not my intent to be making dogmatic assertions. I'm happy to read your additional information and modify my impressions accordingly.

Anyway, there's also some confusion over what is even meant by "polyamory" --

Among who?

Among the people who say things like "Indeed, I venture that most men, or at least a great many men, are born polyamorous." I was just attempting to point out the same "polyamory = horniness" mistake that you did, although obviously not as effectively.

Oops -- having sat on that comment for 15 minutes or so, I really should've previewed before posting. Thanks Gromit, you read me correctly.

For the record, I didn't update my post to reflect Drago's comment because my argument isn't based on whether the Netherlands accepted polyamorous marriage or not; I'm arguing a broader truth (or untruth, as your perspective may dictate).

Von, it might still make a worthwhile "FYI", even if it isn't relevant to your point, since it obliterates the argument you are refuting by other means.

Paul Cella: What will you say, Von, in twenty years when there are polygamous lobbying groups, think tanks, what-have-you, all arguing that polygamous Americans are discriminated against (as they are of course: and rightly so)?

Small request: can people -- and thus far the biggest offender I've seen has been Tacitus, although Paul Cella is starting to give him a run for his money -- stop using the word "rightly" as if it confers some greater truth on their arguments? This goes double when, to establish said truth, it requires the commenter to set themselves up as some kind of moral arbiter.

LJ: I include the link because the picture of two women kissing will probably make someone's head explode.

...with sexy results.

"Was that directed at me?"

Not particularly. If I was thinking of anyone, it was Von and Mr. Cella. I'm rather taken aback by the fact that the last two discussions of polyamory on this blog were both read by Von, and the result of correcting his assumptions-made-in-an-utter-vacuum-of-knowledge were that he appears to have made no effort whatsoever to further investigate the topic and gain some actual relevant knowledge, but instead to further his apparent conviction that knowledge is unnecessary, and listening to the voices in his head are the best way to go on this topic, to the point of gratuitiously starting threads on the topic, absent knowledge, which starts to make it look like Von is in the early stages of a minor crusade. It's rather startling, and it disturbs the generally quite positive view I have of Von to see him repeatedly approach a topic with nothing more than prejudice in hand.

"I was simply posting my impressions -- it was not my intent to be making dogmatic assertions. I'm happy to read your additional information and modify my impressions accordingly."

Speaking as someone who hasn't engaged in any "polyamorous" behavior in... 24 years, I make it (and back then we called it "non-monagamous relationships") -- and who never self-identified as possessing any sort of Inalienable Need or orientation in the matter (it's just that several of us loved more than one person at the same time, and made that work, and that's mostly all, for me, alongside the always essential default towards allowing people to do that which does not harm others), I'm extremely uninterested in being any sort of spokesperson for polyamory anywhere; it would be inappropriate and unhelpful, and I've pretty much said most of what I have to say here in past threads.

I'll simply strongly suggest that anyone wishing to give forth their opinions on the topic first make themselves reasonably familiar with the topic, and as part of that, engage in significant and considerable discussion with a range of people who do self-identify as polyamorous (and given the variety practices, preferences, and the usual range of sense of human beings, I emphasise range of people, as in talking to a least a couple of dozen at length, over some time, not just assuming get the POV of 3 or 4 people is an adequate sample).

To do that, I recommend going over to alt.polyamory and lurking for a week or so, and then conversing and questioning and putting forth one's ideas for discussion for a few weeks, at the least. One might also make some visits to local poly groups if one is near a big town. here is a starting pointer.

But there's no lack of starting points. If one is interested in the actual issues, facts, and debates, and not just in one's fantasies and imaginings. How useful would a discussion of homosexuality be with someone who has never, to their knowledge, met a gay person, read about gay issues, listened to gay people talking about their lives and perspectives, but, in fact, prefers to write blog screeds about gays and what society should do in regard to them, while not bothering to take any time to first find out anything about gays beyond I Can Deduce It All Without Need Of Facts Or Testimony? (Hell, the entire idea of female homosexuality is simply ridiculous! What would they do?)

GF: Among who?

Surely it's among whom. Glad to see you back, Mr. F.

I forget, has no one posted the lyrics of Triad?

You want to know how it will be Me and her, or you and me You both stand there, your long hair flowing Eyes alive, your minds still growing Saying to me: "What can we do now that we both love you?" I love you too I don't really see Why can't we go on as three

You are afraid, embarrased too
No one has ever said such a thing to you
Your mother's ghost stands at your shoulder
Face like ice, a little bit colder
Saying to you: "You cannot do that it breaks all the rules
You learned in school"
I don't really see
Why can't we go on as three

We love each other, it's plain to see
There's just one answer that comes to me
Sister lovers, water brothers
And in time, maybe others
So you see, what we can do is to try something new
If you're crazy too
I don't really see
Why can't we go on as three?

It's not the Netherlands or Connecticut. It's David Crosby. The song did get him thrown out of the Byrds, or is that just an urban legend?

No idea why the first verse didn't break by line. Here it is, looking better:

You want to know how it will be
Me and her, or you and me
You both stand there, your long hair flowing
Eyes alive, your minds still growing
Saying to me: "What can we do
now that we both love you?"
I love you too
I don't really see
Why can't we go on as three

Small request: can people -- and thus far the biggest offender I've seen has been Tacitus, although Paul Cella is starting to give him a run for his money -- stop using the word "rightly" as if it confers some greater truth on their arguments?

Let's let everyone write as they wish, rightly or no.

"Let's let everyone write as they wish, rightly or no."

Nonsense. Let's make it mandatory that everyone follow my rules! Death to the paper tiger misusers of ellipses! Down with those running dogs of indifference to punctuation! Hold high the banner of triumphant use of of the semi-colon! Extremism in defense of prescriptivism is no vice, and extremism in defense of descriptivism is no virtue! Belief in the evolution of language will lead to moral decay and the fall of America! Won't anyone stand up for God, and the children?

Von, does this mean the mandatory-electric-shock-for-not-following-the-rules software won't be installed? Appeasement, I say! Appeasement!

As usual, http://www.snopes.com/music/hidden/horse.asp>Snopes has the straight scoop. Although whether or not David Crosby has destroyed Western Civilization is apparently still in some question.

Now I'm reminded of the lyrics to another DC song:

I wonder who they are

The men who really run this land

And I wonder why they run it

With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names

And on what streets do they live

I'd like to ride right over

This afternoon and give

Them a piece of my mind

About peace for mankind

Peace is not an awful lot to ask


Let's let everyone write as they wish, rightly or no.

In the sense that they have a "right" to write as they wish, fine. If said wishes involve lazy argumentation, however, especially from a position of implied moral superiority, why should such laziness go unchallenged?

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