Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

May 23, 2009

"Triads: Mr. and Mrs. and Mrs... or Whatever"

Many Christian media

Charles Colson, of Watergate fame, was the spectacularly thuggish chief counsel for President Richard Nixon1 and graduated from my high school, which was noted for producing preppie prigs. Colson says he became a better man when he found Christ (while awaiting arrest), and after his time in prison he took up the cause of prison reform. Today Colson runs the Prison Fellowship and other evangelical projects, including a daily commentary that claims to be distributed to 2,000 radio stations. Finding religion, however, did not seem to improve his respect for the rest of us and our rights and freedoms.

Yesterday Colson was on about polyamory, bemoaning the slippery slope from gay marriage to triad marriage — echoing Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor several days before:

Earlier this month, Maine became the fifth state — and the fourth in New England — to legalize same-sex “marriage.” Five thousand miles away in Hawaii, Sasha and Janet Lessin are hoping to build on New England’s example.

If they are successful, no one can seriously claim to be surprised.

Writer Abby Ellin described how the Lessins gathered with friends and held what was dubbed a “commitment ceremony.” The “commitment” being celebrated wasn’t a renewal of their marriage vows — it was the incorporation of a third party, “Shivaya,” into their so-called “triad.”

That’s the word the Lessins and other advocates of “polyamory” call a relationship between three people. Unlike bigamy and polygamy, in which one man has multiple wives, in a “triad,” each party is a “spouse” to each of the other parties. In the Lessins’ case, “Shivaya” is both Sasha’s and Janet’s “husband” and vice-versa. Or whatever.

...As courts never fail to tell us, one man’s discomfort is another man’s irrational prejudice. Besides, in a culture like ours, attitudes can change quickly. If I had told you in 1984 that, by 2009, same-sex “marriage” would be legal, would you have believed me?

That’s why advocates of polyamory emphasize their “commitment” to the other members of the “triads.” The more comfortable people become with these kinds of arrangements, the closer people like the Lessins come to their stated goal: that is, in their words, being able to “walk down the street hand in hand in hand in hand” and also enjoying “all those survivor and visitation rights and tax breaks and everything like that . . .”

Of course, many advocates of same-sex “marriage” insist that this can’t happen. But if feelings and commitment define a marriage, what’s to stop “triads” from being the “next frontier of nuptials?”

Read the whole commentary (May 22, 2009).

For all the hysteria that people like this try to raise, they certainly help us one way. They spread the knowledge to millions of people whom we're never going to reach that it is actually possible for three or more people to form deep lovers' commitments successfully and sustainably, to the point that they "walk down the street hand in hand in hand in hand." In denouncing it, they normalize it. The big chunk of America that lives inside the evangelical echo chamber may imagine by now that the whole secular world is full of these groups, walking around happy as birds.

They will remember this if, someday, Cupid happens to shoot multiple arrows their own way.


1 My wife Sparkler comments, "With enemies like this, who needs friends?" Among other things while in the White House, Colson co-ordered the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office to get therapy notes with which to smear or blackmail him; sought to hire Teamster thugs to beat up antiwar demonstrators and break up demonstrations (Nixon's basij force); and proposed firebombing the Brookings Institution and stealing documents while firefighters were in the building. He drew up Nixon's famous enemies list, which was dangerous to be on. A fine spokesman for moral causes. Sources:
John Dean's book Blind Ambition (1976), pp. 35-39
Fred Emery's book Watergate (1995). pp. 47-48; it references Nixon's
memoirs regarding firebombing.


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Blogger Cygnus MacLlyr said...

I agree that by "denouncing it they normalize it..", or, minimally, they bring it to mass media attention.

Can't be all bad...


May 23, 2009 9:01 PM  
Blogger Joreth said...

Love all the use of dubious quotation marks! Extra bonus points for more dubious nouns than normal nouns!

May 23, 2009 11:31 PM  
Blogger Joreth said...

"But if feelings and commitment define a marriage"

Oh no! We can't have a marriage defined by those evil "feelings" or having people actually "committing" to each other! That would be just horrible! What is the world coming to that people want to be loving and faithful to each other? Like, long term!

Quick! We must try to stop this flood of goodwill towards mankind and go back to the "traditional" method, y'know, where marriage was all about property and inheritance laws. Because it's not a marriage unless you've defined it by who owns the wife!

May 23, 2009 11:35 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Hi Joreth! Hugs!

> Because it's not a marriage
> unless you've defined it by
> who owns the wife!

Have you been to a real conservative-Christian wedding? When my brother- and sister-in-law got married, it was amazing how it was explicitly a triad marriage of three people: Jesus, the husband, and the wife, in that order of hierarchy. Same when Sparkler attended a dear friend's Southern Baptist wedding.

In both cases the couple had asked the minister not to do the hierarchy bit about the wife submitting to the husband's orders (though submitting to Jesus was fine). In both cases the minister agreed during the planning sessions, and then went back on his word and put it in during the real vows in front of the whole crowd.

May 24, 2009 12:04 AM  
Anonymous Earthfather said...

> For all the hysteria that
> people like this try to raise,
> they certainly help us one way.
> They spread the knowledge to
> millions of people whom we're
> never going to reach that *it
> is actually possible* for three
> or more people to form deep
> lovers' commitments
> successfully and sustainably...

I couldn't agree more. Two classic comments: "There's no such thing as bad publicity." And "I don't care *what* they say about me, as long as they spell my name right!"

These right-wingers may be doing a more effective job of promoting polyamory and polyamory awareness than the entire PLN! :-)

In some ways, we should have an easier time with them than the gay marriage folks did, because, in the Bible, there are no prohibitions, or anything at all negative, about multi-partnering. Solomon, one of the Bible heroes, had 300 wives and 700 concubines. Yahweh (God) *ordered* Abraham to take a second wife. Many if not most of the other patriarchs also had multiple wives. And there is *nothing* in the New Testament that endorses monogamy.

So where do the Fundamentalists get their monogamist stance? Good question-- and one they can't answer in Biblical terms.

[Incidentally,] Colson is actually quite sincere. He underwent a religious conversion while in prison, and has devoted his life to service of others. I may disagree with some of his assumptions, but his sincerity is unquestionable. Among other things, he has done a *lot* of advocacy work for prisoner rights, etc.

May 27, 2009 10:40 AM  

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