Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Here Come The Brides, and Grooms, and Uh... Others

You may recognize the name of Stanley Kurtz by virtue of the fact that he is the one who recently blew the lid on the long, long, well-documented relationship that Obama "never had" with the radical terrorist, William Ayers, who is "just a guy who lives in [Obama's] neighborhood."

What you may NOT know is that he also wrote an amazing, eye-opening, looooong, article on the topic of the changing landscape of marriage in the modern world. While I strongly encourage you to read the original article, I would also like to share some of the comments and concepts that stood out to me as I read it.

Mr. Kurtz successfully presents the case that, despite the claims to the opposite, same-sex marriage has already opened the doors to other behaviors and definitions of marriage in some European countries, and that there are organizations here in America, waiting eagerly albeit quietly in the wings for their chance to demand acceptance. The reason, which conservatives and religious folks alike have said from the beginning, is obvious:

In a world fully accepting of gay marriage, it will be difficult to withhold equal standing from another organized sexual minority.

One group that was/is at the forefront of legalizing gay marriage is the Unitarian Universalist Church. They have formally allowed ceremonies to join polyandrous couples (multiple men and women in one relationship), but have kept this fact quiet for important reasons:

Unitarians understand that moving too swiftly or openly to legitimize polyamory could validate the slippery-slope argument against same-sex marriage.

So, although they recognize the validity of the "slippery-slope" argument, they choose to keep it as inconspicuous as possible.

But the clearest statement of strategic intent came from Valerie White, a lawyer and executive director of the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund: "It would put too much ammunition in the hands of the opponents of gay marriage. . . ." In short, the Unitarians are holding the polyamorists at arm's length only until gay marriage has been safely legalized across the nation. At that point, the Unitarian campaign for state-recognized polyamorous marriage will almost certainly begin.

Further, bisexuals are also waiting for their moment to spring into action and demand recognition in marriage. The following quote, in reference to a Unitarian Universalist minister, also takes a spine-tingling twist:

One polyamorist minister who had recently come out to his congregation as a bisexual treated polyamory and bisexuality synonymously. "Our denomination has been welcoming to gays and lesbians and transgendered people," he said. "Bisexuals have not received the recognition they deserve." In other words, anything less than formal church recognition of polyamory is discrimination against bisexuals.

This seems to suggest that a religious refusal to recognize non-monogamous relationships is equal to discrimination, an attitude which is already having stark results in America. (See my post prior to this one for examples.)

Yale professor Kenji Yoshino, a prevalent expert on bisexuality, provides the following perspective:

...heterosexuals and homosexuals have an interest in convincing bisexuals that they've got to make an all-or-nothing choice between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Heterosexuals, for example, have an interest in preserving norms of monogamy, and bisexuality "destabilizes" norms of monogamy. Homosexuals, notes Yoshino, have an interest in defending the notion of an immutable homosexual orientation, since that is often the key to persuading a court that they have suffered discrimination. And homosexuals, adds Yoshino, have an interest in maximizing the number of people in their movement.

Thus, Prof. Yoshino provides some illuminating professional context to the debate on gay marriage: the "born that way" lie is the key to their political clout.

Of significant note to me, is the article's mention of a film that I had never heard of before, and its ungodly conclusion:

Three of Hearts is the story of the real-life 13-year relationship of two men and a woman. Together for several years in a gay relationship, two bisexual-leaning men meet a woman and create a threesome that produces two children, one by each man. Although the woman marries one of the men, the entire threesome has a commitment ceremony. The movie records the trio's eventual breakup, yet the film's website notes their ongoing commitment to the view that "family is anything we want to create."

It is this very attitude, that "family is anything we want to create," that conservatives and religionists have long warned against, and that many liberals have long held would never become public opinion by our allowance of inappropriate sexual behaviors. This notion is refuted, unintentionally, in an article in New York magazine:

According to New York, the growing popularity of polyamory among New York-area straights is largely inspired by the increasing visibility of gay relationships, with their more "fluid" notions of commitment.

Perhaps there is, after all, truth to the old conservative standby that says:

Vice is a monster of such frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen.

Yet, seen too oft,

Familiar with her face,

We first endure,

Then pity,

Then embrace.

The ironic twist, though, is that the same article

...also found that the most stable polyamorous groupings have as their core element a straight man and a bisexual woman who sticks to one man.

In other words, even promiscuous, "open-minded" relationships require a "One man, One Woman" core to remain intact. An interesting fact, indeed.

Mr. Kurtz discusses the fact that gays and bisexuals are generally treated with respect and compassion by traditionally religious members of society, but he finds that:

Somehow the idea has taken hold that tolerance for sexual minorities requires a radical remake of the institution of marriage. That is a mistake.

As I have said before, these minority groups are seeking to force their own brand of change on the whole of American society, despite the fact that they are generally treated well by the mainstream.

Says Mr. Kurtz:

The fundamental purpose of marriage is to encourage mothers and fathers to stay bound as a family for the sake of their children. Our liberalized modern marriage system is far from perfect, and certainly doesn't always succeed in keeping parents together while their children are young. Yet often it does. Unfortunately, once we radically redefine marriage in an effort to solve the problems of adults, the institution is destined to be shattered by a cacophony of grown-up demands.

Allowing the "marriage" of multiple partners also allows an "easy out" to partners who wish to leave a polyamorous relationship later, since, they will reason, there will still be others left behind who can take care of their offspring for them. This is sure to be the norm, when the obvious comparison to unmarried couples is made. The only difference will be that they will be in a legal relationship. The courts, however, are sure to be indifferent to an individual's "divorce" from a polyamorous relationship, since, as I have stated, the children will have other "parents."

In the discussion of polyamorous relationships, I was surprised to learn, for the first time, of the De Bruijn's, a Dutch trio who were all basically married to each other officially in 2005, and Koen Brand - a married man who publicly declared his bisexuality and then entered into a public homosexual relationship with another married man. These stories were all kept out of the American public's view due to the obvious damage they would have done to the ongoing social engineering by supporters towards the acceptance of gay marriage.

Mr. Kurtz concludes his article thus:

The De Bruijn trio, Koen Brand, the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness, the legal arguments of Elizabeth Emens and Kenji Yoshino, and the bisexual/ polyamory movement in general have been launched into action by the successes of the campaign for gay marriage. In a sense, though, these innovators have jumped too soon. They've shown us today--well before same-sex marriage has triumphed nationwide--what would emerge in its aftermath.

Liberals may now put behind-the-scenes pressure on the Dutch government to keep the lid on legalized polyamory for as long as the matter of gay marriage is still unsettled. The Unitarian polyamorists, already conflicted about how much recognition to demand while the gay marriage battle is unresolved, may be driven further underground. But let there be no mistake about what will happen should same-sex marriage be fully legalized in the United States. At that point, if bisexual activists haven't already launched a serious campaign for legalized polyamory, they will go public. It took four years after the full legalization of gay marriage in the Netherlands for the first polyamory test case to emerge. With a far larger and more organized polyamory movement in America, it might not take even that long after the nationalization of gay marriage in the United States.

It's easy to imagine that, in a world where gay marriage was common and fully accepted, a serious campaign to legalize polyamorous unions would succeed--especially a campaign spearheaded by an organized bisexual-rights movement. Yet win or lose, the culture of marriage will be battered for years by the debate. Just as we're now continually reminded that not all married couples have children, we'll someday be endlessly told that not all marriages are monogamous (nor all monogamists married). For a second time, the fuzziness and imperfection found in every real-world social institution will be contorted into a rationale for reforming marriage out of existence.

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