Dangerous Ground

January 20, 2006

Today, I read Wednesday’s copy of the National Post, or more specifically, the editorial section. I generally prefer the Globe and Mail, but this paper was free, so who am I to argue? Several of their commentaries made me let out a deep “Hmmm” to myself while I questioned how I would respond to these issues that they raised. One issue that I had to read twice and look over sections several times, was simply called: Polygamy is not the problem. Some people may remember that I wrote about this issue beforehand, but there I focused more on the social aspects of polygamy. Now I want to respond to this article on the legal front.

This commentary was written by Ms. Barbara Kay and its purpose was to expand on the hot button topic of same-sex marriage – always a risky subject, especially during an election campaign. She comes right at you by saying polygamy will not be legalized anytime soon, because polygamy does not have the same ideological support behind it like same-sex marriage has. The battle over same-sex unions was won through a “successful ideological campaign by intellectual and political elites [which] cast homosexuality as an inherent characteristic, like race or sex.” Society has not made the case for polygamy being a biological or natural way of life, and is therefore a nonthreat to enter the realm of government and law.

However, “save your panic for ‘polyamorous’ marriage- unions amongst groups of men and women who take a communal attitude toward sex and love. … polyamory is acquiring respectability, thus paving the way for public acceptance.” This is in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that said swingers’ clubs were acceptable behaviour when they involved consenting adults. Ms. Kay is deeply concerned about polyamory being legalized, because the same questions and debates about same-sex marriage can be applied to polyamory. She quotes a Yale professor, Kenji Yoshino, who says, “to the extent that bisexuals are not permitted to express their dual desires, they might fairly characterize themselves as harmed.” That idea of being harmed by not being allowed to follow through with their natural actions is what relates the issue to same-sex marriage. She sees this issue progressing through our society to the point where we “celebrate ‘pure relationships’ … stripped of any purpose other than the sexual and emotional gratification of the individuals involved.” Once we reach that point, the gates are open to nontraditional marriages.

She says the liberal agenda is out to “de-normalize” marriage, but doesn’t leave herself room to answer the question of what is a normal marriage really? If a marriage is not only the “sexual and emotional gratification of the individuals involved,” what else is missing? As far as I know, contemporary marriages have moved beyond the notion that you marry to gain wealth from the family’s inheritance. We no longer arrange marriages between people like it was a business deal. We celebrate the love people have for each other, and hope they can have a family or have a strong bond with eachother for life. Sure, maybe deepdown we wish someone had married someone wealthier or better looking, but ultimately we’re still happy for that couple.

I’m sure a lot of people will raise the question of how a family is to exist with a marriage of three or more people? My answer would be that a union of three or more raising a child will be no different with how a divorced couple raise a child (with one or both of them having re-married), except that there would be more love in the family and no bitter jealousies between people. Financially, the family would be better off in looking after a child(ren)- 3+ incomes certainly looks better on paper than one or two. Knowledge and educations would advance more with having more adults around to look up to, and children would learn to understand how group dynamics can work positively.

Legally though, how can we criminalize love between consenting adults, no matter how many or what gender they are? How can one person judge whether a pairing of people is right or wrong? They can’t, and shouldn’t. Those two people chose to be together and want to make a commitment. We should commend them for their goals and effort, not punish them. You can’t choose who you fall in love with, so a government shouldn’t be able to deny that love.

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