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 hard, that 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.