March 14, 2003

National Review Warns of the Looming Specter of Polyamory

Elf Sternberg calls attention to this column by Stanley Kurtz in National Review Online:

Almost unnoticed, a court case of immense cultural importance has been filed in Canada. The case, which asks that full legal recognition be granted to three parents of a single child, gives the clearest indication yet of the real impact that gay marriage will have on the American family.

A lesbian couple from London, Ontario has asked a Canadian court to simultaneously recognize the two of them (the biological mother and her partner), as well as the biological father, as legal parents of a young boy. Rather than turn to an anonymous sperm donor, the women in question asked a friend to father their child. The father does not live with the couple and child, but is nonetheless treated as a member of the household. ...

[T]he biggest danger here is that legalized triple parenthood opens the way to legalized polygamy or polyamory (sexually based group marriage). Although in this particular instance, the relationship does not appear to be sexual (except for the initial conception), once a legal precedent for multiple parenthood has been set, it will be impossible to deny recognition to sexually bonded groups (whether heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, or a mixture of these). And just as gay adoption has set a legal precedent for gay marriage, so will group parenthood pave the way to group marriage.

Yet ... group marriage is inherently unstable in a Western cultural context. So legalized polyamory means still another radical increase in the difficulties of children. And polyamorists (not to mention polygamists) are already organized and ready to take advantage of any opening in the law. (Just try running a Google search on "polyamory.")

Once we cross the border into legalized multiple parenthood, we have virtually arrived at the abolition of marriage and the family. The logic of gay marriage leads inexorably to the end of marriage, and the creation in its place of an infinitely flexible series of contracts. Monogamous marriage cannot function if it is just one of many social arrangement. Marriage as an institution depends for its successful functioning upon the support and encouragement that the ethos of monogamy receives from society as a whole. If anything can be called a marriage including group marriage then the ethos of monogamy that keeps families together will have been broken, and the social reinforcement that is the essence of marriage itself will be gone. Again, it is children who will pay the price.

Apparently, heterosexual monogamous marriage is so unattractive, unappealing, and unpleasant that only the absence of an alternative makes it viable at all! One wonders if Kurtz has ever actually been married.

According to Kurtz, what holds families together is the "ethos of monogamy." That's odd, I always thought that love had something to do with it love between the adult partners, and love of the adults for the children.

It's worth noting that polyamory is in no way an issue in the petition of the three adults seeking recognition as the parents of the child. It's a bee in Kurtz's bonnet, something he sees as so obviously outlandish as to be the absolute proof that gay marriage is a real true threat to Marriage (a sacred institution so important that Kurtz insists that it rely on the force of active, ongoing government intervention to maintain it).

I don't think I've ever been a boogeyman before. Perhaps I should examine my forehead for horns in my bathroom mirror.

Posted by abostick at March 14, 2003 06:08 PM

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