Gay marriage advocates, stop throwing poly people under the bus

I’ve said before that I’m conflicted about same sex marriage, because, ultimately, I’d rather see the institution as a whole abolished. On the whole, though, I’ve got no problem with same sex marriage as a transitional demand and have no problem with people choosing to get the state involved in their two-person relationships.

The thing is, I am very unhappy with how some people are asking for this. They’ll argue against the “slippery slope” argument by throwing poly people under the bus. “No, we’re only asking for two people in love to get married, not poly or incest or bestiality. You silly conservatives, thinking you’d catch us out,” they say.

Now, I understand that they’re fighting against a daft argument in the first place. The thing is, this riposte is fairly fucking offensive to poly people.

Firstly, it kind of sucks to get mentioned in the same breath as incest and bestiality. These things are not the same, and personally I find them rather squicky. But, more importantly, these things are not the same, and I’d rather they weren’t all lumped together, unless you’re in consensual polyamorous relationship with your brother and a very enthusiastically randy shih-tzu.

Secondly, polygamy is always, always, always conflated with polyamory. Again, these things are not the same: polygamy refers to a specific type of multiple-partner relationship which is a subtype of polyamory. It’s a set-up which is generally steeped in religion and bad gender politics and is therefore easier to dismiss than other types of poly relationship. However, by not pointing out that this is only one multiple-partner arrangement, one throws all poly people under that bus.

Now, there might be more harms inherent in polygamous relationships than there are in other forms of poly, due to its ties with religion and patriarchy. However, there are more harms inherent to certain types of any sort of relationships. Should we ban marriages where there’s a significant age difference? What about where one partner has a record for domestic violence? Of course not, that’d be bloody silly. So why are the gay marriage advocates throwing all poly people under the bus because some relationships are fucked up?

Then there’s the nicer, more watered-down argument. That marriages including more than two people would be too hardthat poly marriages would be more of a redefinition of marriage than same-sex marriage. Now, this is all well and good, except same-sex marriage also involves a redefinition, and that’s exactly where the struggle lies. In my opinion, we might as well go the whole hog while we’re doing this (if we’re not just going to abolish the whole archaic institution). The thing is, I’m not asking that they make our struggle a part of theirs. I’m just asking not to get chucked under the bus in the process.

And it’s entirely possible to refute the slippery slope argument without throwing anyone under the bus. This widely-circulated infographic does so fairly adeptly. Because, yes, that’s all same-sex marriage will lead to: gay people getting married. Depending on your politics, that may or may not be enough, but either way, pointing out that simple fact and nothing else will expose the underlying bigotry in the anti-SSM camp. All ethical issues aside, throwing poly people under the bus derails this very simple and powerful point.

So I plead with the gay marriage advocates: stop throwing us under the bus to get what you want.


14 thoughts on “Gay marriage advocates, stop throwing poly people under the bus”

  1. Hang on, you’ve “no problem with people choosing to get the state involved in their two-person relationships”? Really? This is the one aspect of marriage that actually gives me the creeps. I was at a wedding earlier in the summer where the Priest paraded the signed certificate, as if that were the true statement of the marriage, rather than the fact the two people loved each other or even that we’d all shown up to recognise that fact.

    1. I’m all for throwing a party to celebrate how in love you are, but a lot of people seem into turning it into a festival of signing legal documents at the same time. And I suppose if that’s what they want then I’m not going to stop them, though it weirds me the hell out too.

      1. Documents are signed-and I take it your referring to the register-because marriage is a legal contract.-with parties to it accepting certain responsibilities and having bestowed on them certain rights. I don’t see what’s weird about it.

    1. Heh, maybe break it down and queer it up, but ultimately the difference it makes to most lives is fairly minimal 🙂

  2. Thank you! We need solidarity, not division. An adult should be free to share love, sex, residence, and whatever legal constructs are offered: marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships…. with any consenting adults, free of prosecution, bullying, and discrimination. Some LGBT monogamists agree, some don’t. Heterosexual poly people and LGBT monogamists should stand with LGBT+poly people in solidarity to support the rights of ALL adults.

  3. You ‘poly’ people can make your own case. It has nothing to do with equal marriage since NO ONE in America has the right to multiple spouses.

    1. “You ‘gay’ people can make your own case. It has nothing to do with equal marriage since NO ONE in America has the right to same-sex spouses.”
      This is what your bigotry sounds like.

  4. It may be “archaic” to you (thought exactly why being well-established must equal undesirable beats me), but to many married people it means a great deal, and if you might want to consider giving other people’s choices the same respect you want them to give yours. The whole “I despise marriage and wish it didn’t exist ” vibe considerably deracts from your case.Poly people may well choose an alternative. Doesn’t make it objectively better.

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