Sunday, December 25, 2005

When Two Just Isn't Enough

Once again, the Dutch are first with a structural solution to a previously undiscovered, or at least unmentioned, social need.

Given that marriage is soon to be available to all who can articulate love for another without regard to gender, it won't be long before provision is necessary for those who need spouses from each of the available sexes in order to be whole. If marriage is to be for men who need women and women who need men, except for some women who need another woman or men another man, what of those who need both, the woman who needs a man and a woman? Or the man who needs one of each and cannot be complete without?

The answer is a polyamorist relationship, love shared amongst and between more than two. While its more well-known kissing cousin, polygamy, is essentially a parallel binomial arrangement, a sort of two-on-one hug, where the two don't experience a direct relationship with each other but only with the third, polyamory is more geometrically pristine, a triangle if three, rectangle if four, with no need for a participant to pass through any one corner on the way to another, although it can almost as easily be a case where all the corners connect to one another, simultaneously. In other words, to make the polyamory relationship work requires that at least two members be bi-sexual and equally attracted to at least two other members of the relationship, including at least one of each sex.

In a feature story in The Weekly Standard, "Here Come The Brides," Stanley Kurtz describes the first formalized Dutch construct, two brides and a groom. This was later eclipsed by a Belgian foursome, a man and three lesbian wives with a total of 30 children, which was followed by another from the Netherlands, this time two bi-sexual grooms and a bride.

The Unitarian Universalist Church played a central role in the legal and culture efforts on behalf of gay marriage in Massachusetts. After their success in the gay rights arena, the lead plaintiffs in the flagship case were married in the Church's headquarters by the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Reverend Sinkford. Today that church is home to a number of discussion groups, activists and groups supporting poly-marriages in the U.S.

Adding weight to the arguments suggesting an eventual need to face up to the possibility of poly-marriages is a Stanford Law Review article, 'The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure," by Kenji Yoshino, deputy dean for intellectual life at Yale Law School. Professor Yashino summarizes the best available academic studies on the subject as finding that the number of bisexuals in the U.S. equals or exceeds the number of homosexuals. He expects the numbers to increase substantially as societal constraints against admitted bisexuality are relaxed. The professor also observes: "To the extent that bisexuals are not permitted to express their dual desires, they might fairly characterize themselves as harmed." That argument would go a long way to support an activist judicial finding legalizing polyamory. Kurtz points out Yoshino's substantial credentials: In addition to his professorship and administrative role at one of the country's top law schools, Dean Yoshino has been profiled in the New York Times and quoted by Justice Stevens in a Supreme Court opinion on gay civil rights.

The arguments against an eventual evolution of the historic marital relationship to include, among others, polyamory relationships, are generally already lost. Once gay marriage is socially and legally acceptable, there are no arguments remaining against a post-modern construction that "family is anything we want to create," as described by the documentary film "Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family," a 2004 study of a 13-year effort to make permanent an American polyamorist relationship.

If marriage isn't what it has been for all recorded history, then what it is is up for grabs and bisexuals will certainly have as great a voice in its definition as any others.

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