I fundamentally don’t care what any informed, consenting adults do in their relationships and lives. I don’t care who you fuck, live with, raise children with or marry, as long as you don’t hurt anyone.
It’s evident that some people do care. Usually the kind who admonish the word “fuck”, sex before marriage, gays, trans folk, contraception, divorce…you know, general autonomy to live your life differently to people in biblical times.
We’ve established these people are not allies to marriage equality, to gender equality, to human rights. But what’s strange is how we default to some of their most tired and tedious arguments when we talk about widening marriage equality to polyamorous people.
There are many, many alternatives to a ‘couple’ relationship. There are many variances on monogamy that people negotiate with their loved ones. Poly people are your doctor and her husband who invite his workmate over every weekend. The “flat” down the road where parenting is shared between 3 “very close friends”. The girl who has a boyfriend and two girlfriends but can only take her boyfriend to the batch for Easter. Your aunt and uncle who have been seeing other people for 25 years, and one person has been around for 17 of those. You’ve met her at Christmas one year, without realizing.
Poly people often tell no one, because they know exactly what you will say and think. Often it will involve the words “deviant” and “unable to commit” or “unfaithful” (though adultery and poly are very different things). Even if you adopt the slightly more liberal “people can do whatever they want” stance, it is all too often accompanied with “but why do they need to get married? That’s not what marriage is.”
By its very nature, ‘marriage equality’ should involve marriage equality. The ability for consenting adults who want to get married, to get married.
Am I saying we should be tackling poly marriage right here and now? No. But I am saying that holding either conscious or subconscious hesitancies around poly marriage because it might be the start of a slippery slope of people going marriage crazy and marrying oranges, dogs, toasters and small children, is bullshit.
When Bob McCroskrie stirred the pot by pointing out that we can’t call it ‘marriage equality’ if we’re not including anyone who wants to get married, many clever and supposedly intersectional activists went to a very strange place to prove Bob wrong.
It’s entirely fair to focus this argument on same-sex marriage. This legislation at hand. This international movement of acceptance. But in order to do that, we don’t need to run screaming and emphatically separate ourselves from those poly people. Those people, who by the way, have not tried to ‘hijack’ this stage in marriage equality publicly once. Those people who are loudly supportive of queer marriage and waiting for their turn. Or, like many queer and straight folk, don’t personally want to get married, but don’t agree with a glaring legislative difference.
To separate ourselves from McCroskrie’s attempts to derail and divide, all we have to do is ignore him. Because currently the only person who IS conflating this phase in marriage equality with poly marriage, is a dude who ran a nationwide campaign in support of child abuse. He is no one’s ally. So let’s not give him any time at the big people’s table.
If this isn’t the fight we’re fighting, our responses to his attempts to mess with us from his tiny swivel chair in a basement laden with Christian motivational posters, should simply say that and move on.
But for “marriage equality” activists to go to great lengths to emphasize that’s definitively not going to happen so please move along oh my god don’t conflate us with that argument, it’s too far out and weird and you’ve got the wrong people, these are not the droids you’re looking for is offensive.
Tell me why, exactly, poly marriage isn’t something we shouldn’t be actively setting our sights for once this hurdle is over? Is it because of the slippery slope? Is it because of ‘the children’? Is it because amending legislation to enable it would be literally the hardest thing ever and we have never needed to amend those things before in the history of humanity? Because I’m pretty sure those arguments should be all too familiar to “marriage equality” activists.
Apparently it takes a village to raise a child, unless the village is poly. Then the village is sick and unnatural and dangerous to the child. And I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it because I know all the arguments about queer families being just as safe and loving and imperfect as straight families apply to poly folk.
Extending marriage to any informed consenting adult who wants to, should be something eventually incorporated in marriage equality. Unless you subscribe to the idea that loving, adult relationships should be prescribed and confined in accordance with…what, exactly? If you subscribe to that idea, then please, don’t talk about “marriage equality”. Talk about “same-sex marriage” because that is really all you stand for.
If you’re at least broadly open to it, but you want to distance yourself from the poly discussion because you’re well aware that now is not the time, and that people do have super toxic hang ups about poly marriage, then sure. But do so with acknowledgement, at least internally, that you’re prioritizing this milestone over a discussion poly folk have been waiting for, and will continue to wait for.
And maybe try not to spit in their face while you do it.