Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What are one and one and one and one...

Long-time readers know that I'm married to two women.

Of course, marrying two people at the same time is illegal in all 50 states and most western nations, so what I really mean by that is that Genevieve, Danielle, and I have publicly affirmed our commitment to each other before family and friends, live as a family, take care of each other, and generally live as married people without asking the state for any official recognition; we're working with an attorney to get most of the important protections though paperwork. It's an imperfect system, but since we're nowhere near having enough social support to agitate for truly equal protection under the law, it does the job for us well enough. We don't ask for state recognition, and the state leaves us alone to live as we see fit, so long as we don't get too uppity.

Not everybody is so lucky. In states with long histories of persecuting Mormons, there are often laws on the books specifically intended to allow civil authorities to prosecute people for doing what we're doing. Not for committing bigamy; not for forcing underage girls into sexual relationships with old men; but for making family arrangements between consenting adults that the mainstream doesn't recognize as normal.


Remember Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that struck down state sodomy laws on the theory that (to wildly simplify) consensual intimate relationships are protected from government interference? Well, that decision is being used as the basis of a suit challenging Utah's anti-polygamy law. This suit is clean and glorious. The plaintiffs aren't demanding a right to marry; just a right to be free from persecution for their private relationships. They're backing it with the protections of religious expression and free association recognized by the First Amendment. They're explicitly disclaiming any attack on the incest or child abuse laws that are usually conflated with the marriage issue by the calculating busybodies on the other side of the issue. And maybe best of all, a fundamentalist religious group is pursuing its own interests by implicitly accepting the validity of a ruling in favor of gay sex, while enabling libertarian atheist polyamorists like me.

It's too early for me to begin hoping for any real reform of our current serial-monogamy-only marriage system, but damn, this would be a good start. Between this case and Canada's pending decision on plural marriage bans and their compatibility with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is North America on the road to leading the western world in finally leaving anti-plural bigotry in the past?

More Like This Please.

1 comment:

  1. Cue pachydermic freakout of epic proportions shortly.