Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

August 31, 2006

"Cheater Seeks Cheater"

Village Voice

From the sick-society department:

In New York's Village Voice for August 30, 2006, columnist Tristan Taormino investigates a cheat-on-your-spouse personals site that has one million members, and compares this to the largest poly personals site with less than 7,000 members.

"I prefer [to cheat with other married people] because they have as much to lose as me typically, and it's easier to relate to someone who is married," says Paul (not his real name), a 35-year-old executive at a large corporation in midtown Manhattan.... Paul cheated for the first time with another married woman he met through the Ashley Madison Agency, a website that boasts such taglines as "When Monogamy Becomes Monotony" and "For Women Seeking Romantic Affairs — and the Men Who Want to Fulfill Them."

Paul is one of over a million members of Ashley Madison, which — like Married Secrets, Affair Match, Discreet Adventures, International House of Wives, and others — caters to married people who want to cheat with other married people....

"Both people have just as much to risk and lose and expectations stay reasonable," says [the company's chief operating officer, Darren] Morgenstern, who founded the site in 2002 after reading a business magazine article that said one-third of people who sign up on singles dating sites are actually attached.... While Morgenstern admits the company receives its fair share of hate mail, he says, predictably, "We don't promote infidelity."

...It baffles me that there is not a site as popular, active, and profitable as Ashley Madison that is designed for polyamorous people. There are well-used swinger sites, but swinging is just one type of non-monogamy, a specific community and culture that not everyone identifies with. Alt.com is marketed as a site for "alternative lifestyles," but in practice, not a lot of poly people use it; you can't search specifically for other poly people, and the site is very BDSM-oriented while not all poly people are kinky. There is really only one credible personals site specifically for polyamorous people, Poly Match Maker (polymatchmaker.com); compared to Ashley Madison's million, it has fewer than 7,000 members.

...In the United States, cheating continues to be the dominant model of how people have sex and form relationships outside their primary partnership, and the stats on how many of our fellow Americans do it are pretty depressing. Statistics show that anywhere from 12 to 25 percent of women and 22 to 60 percent of men cheat on their partners. When will we embrace a more honest, ethical way of meeting our needs?

Read the whole article.

Among those million-plus sneaks who use cheater sites, how many really hate doing it that way — really want to be honest and moral and ethical — really want their beloved spouse to share in a healthy, open, loving journey — but can't begin to imagine how?

The world badly needs a full-up, well-organized polyamory awareness movement to show that wonderful possibilities exist — at least for those (few?) people who are tempermentally suited for it and are willing and able to do the work to make it succeed.

I suspect that the potential numbers of such people are much higher than anyone now imagines. My guess is that it's a good 10 percent of the population. What do you think?

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August 30, 2006

Michael Greenberg on Polyamory

TLS (Times Literary Supplement)

In his archly erudite "Freelance" column in the Times Literary Supplement, Michael Greenberg casts a jaundiced eye on a meeting of Polyamorous NYC. Do you recognize yourself here?

An acquaintance called Barbara Foster phones to invite me to the monthly meeting of her "polyamory group" in Greenwich Village. "We believe in multiple love relationships", she explains. "An extended family where everything's above board — you're fully aware of your partner's lovers, and he knows all about yours. No cheating, no broken trust, which, as you know, is what causes love to crumble."

I pull The Kreutzer Sonata from my shelf, Tolstoy's diatribe against sex, to read on the subway ride downtown. The narrator Pozdnyshev mocks the notion that "spiritual affinity" is the basis of marriage. "Is it because of unity of ideals that people go to bed together?", he asks sarcastically. He can't bear the fact that, duped by sexual attraction, he convinced himself he had fallen in love. When attraction ends, contempt takes over, lasting until the couple's last miserable breath. Yet we "go to the grave believing we have lived perfectly normal and happy lives!", cries Pozdnyshev. To protect the "purity" of ideal love, Pozdnyshev proposes chastity in marriage.

The meeting is to take place at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, a former elementary school on West 13th Street, filled with concealed staircases and unexpected wings. "We're just renting space here", a polyamorist hastens to inform me. "For the most part, they're completely confused about who we are." About forty people have gathered in a room tucked away in a remote corner of the third floor. An air-conditioner rattles loudly. Strips of black duct tape keep the carpet from coming apart. Our chairs are arranged in a circle, like in nursery school.

I find Barbara, who hands me a book she co-wrote, entitled Three in Love: Menages a trois from ancient to modern times. The other authors are her husband and the third member of their menage. "I lived it", she says with disarming intensity....

At 8 o'clock sharp, the featured speaker bursts into the room. She is Nan Wise, Certified Relationship and Alternative Lovestyles Specialist, and Happiness Coach.
Tall, voluptuous, with long coppery hair, she looks as if she has stepped out of the pages of a Robert Crumb cartoon....

"Languaging is of critical importance", Nan says. We are immediately bombarded with made-up words, apparently meant to lend a sociological aura to the movement. A heavy-set man wants to know how to present his polyamorous desire to his monogamous girlfriend. "The dreaded poly/mono dilemma!", Nan cries. "To lead this life successfully, you need advanced skill-sets. They can be learned. But they require commitment. Sacrifice, in some cases. Maturity. Work." The couple sitting next to me clutch each other's hands, like nervous passengers on a plane.

The polyamorist's ultimate goal is to reach the state of "compersion", where jealousy is transcended and "one finds pleasure in the pleasure of his lover with another" — a variation, perhaps, of Pozdnyshev's ideal love. The ability to negotiate is paramount.

...Someone complains about the word "compromise", with its "negative connotations of giving something up". All agree that "collaborate" should replace it as the favoured term. A man reports that, after they went poly, his wife of twenty years left him. He seems morose and stung, but sympathy for his plight is measured. He has failed to reach compersion. However, more bruised feelings from members of the audience come to light. A young woman worries about maintaining primary status with her main lover. "I don't want to be demoted to number two or three." Another complains of being stuck at a low rung on the ladder. "I feel like a mistress. I mean, what the hell am I doing this for?" Maybe a change of language would ease her discomfort. "'Primary' could be 'principal', and the rest could be called 'satellites'", suggests a man. "It's less hierarchal."...

Read the whole article (Sept. 1, 2006 issue).


August 20, 2006

"Teens Defend Polygamy at Utah Rally"

Associated Press

Not every Mormon polygamist is a child-abusing cult leader, though some are. Decent, "Big Love"-style polygamous families do exist in Utah, characterized by healthy and respectful (if religion-based) relationships, if these kids of theirs are to be believed:

Calling their lives blessed, more than a dozen children and young adults from polygamist families in Utah spoke at a rally Saturday, calling for a change in state laws and the right to live the life and religion they choose.

"Because of our beliefs, many of our people have been incarcerated and had their basic human rights stripped of them, namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," said a 19-year-old identified only as Tyler. "I didn't come here today to ask for your permission to live my beliefs. I shouldn't have to."

Polygamy is banned in the Utah Constitution and is a felony offense. The rally was unusual because those who practice polygamy typically try to live under the radar.

It drew about 250 supporters to City Hall, said Mary Batchelor, co-founder of Principle Voices of Polygamy, which helped organize the event....

Dressed in flip-flops and blue jeans, bangs drooping over their eyes, the teens at Saturday's rally talked on cell phones and played rock music, singing lyrics written to defend their family life.

All of the speakers praised their parents and families and said their lives were absent of the abuse, neglect, forced marriages and other "horror stories" sometimes associated with polygamist communities.

Speakers said that with "dozens of siblings" and multiple "moms" they are well supported, encouraged to be educated, and can make their own choices about marriage.

"We are not brainwashed, mistreated, neglected, malnourished, illiterate, defective or dysfunctional," 17-year-old Jessica said. "My brothers and sisters are freethinking, independent people; some who have chosen this lifestyle, while others have branched out to a diversity of religions."

Read the whole AP article.

Here's the longer, more informative Salt Lake Tribune article (if it disappears, read the text here).

Watch a local TV news report on the rally (may require Internet Explorer).

And here's a reader poll at a North Carolina TV news site that carried the story.

Also on the subject of polygamy: The New York Times just ran a profile (Aug. 21, 2006) of a brave woman who has made a film about the sadness and abuse in the Islamic-based polygamy growing in Indonesia. (If the article disappears from the newspaper's site, you can read the text here.)


August 14, 2006

"Family Values" (Penn & Teller)

Penn & Teller's Bullshit!

It's been a slow week, so here's a golden oldie: the "Family Values" episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit!. The show is a not-suitable-for-broadcast TV series (on Showtime) lambasting anything that gets the two hosts' dander up, from alien abductions to the Bible. This episode, which appeared May 2, 2005, takes on the Right's fantasy that normal families are the norm, and are the only foundation of civilization. A poly quad (John and Nan Wise and their partners) get star billing and a chance to say their excellent stuff. So do several serious family researchers. Not work-safe: crude language, porny gags. Enjoy.

Watch the show (via LiveLeak).

And here are show notes with links to the various experts quoted.

Incidentally, here is Nan's Outrageous Intimacy web page. Including Marie Claire Magazine's illustrated article about their quad — and the May 1999 Esquire magazine's tumultuous "Scenes from a Group Marriage", which might scare the timid away from polyamory altogether. (Now now, you don't have to do it like they did.)


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August 7, 2006

"What's the Opposite of Jealousy?"


In the last generation, almost below the cultural radar, many Americans have taken up Buddhism. A top-quality read for anyone is Tricycle, "America's leading Buddhist magazine," which claims "an upscale audience of approximately 200,000 readers." Its Summer 2006 issue presents an essay by Jorge N. Ferrer (a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco) challenging modern Buddhists' allegiance-by-default to monogamy.

Jealousy, it seems, likely emerged as an adaptive response in our hominid ancestory some 3.5 million years ago.... As evolutionary psychologist David Buss writes in his acclaimed book, The Evolution of Desire, most human mating mechanisms and responses are actually "living fossils" shaped by the genetic pressures of our evolutionary history. The problem, of course, is that is that patterns that were adaptive millions of years ago might be anything but that today.

What does this mean for us spiritually? ...While Buddhism has addressed in great detail the transformation of other deeply conditioned emotions — greed and hatred, for instance — it has, so far as I know, not much to say about jealousy, specifically about sexual jealousy. But it seems to me that Buddhist principles can be, and should be, extended to the realm of intimate relationships.

In the article, Ferrer dwells on what polyamorists call compersion (or frubble):

Buddhist tradition speaks of four "divine abodes," or qualities of an awakened mind to be cultivated and put into practice... — lovingkindness (maitri), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upeksha).... Of these, mudita is for many Westerners the least familiar, at least as a term. It refers to the capacity to participate in the joy of others, to take happiness in the happiness of others.

And he urges today's Buddhist teachers to examine their mono assumptions:

Historically, Buddhism never strictly defined the rules of marriage for lay people and accepted the relationship styles customary in the countries through which it spread.... The culturally prevalent belief — supported by many Buddhist leaders — that the only spiritually correct sexual options are either celibacy or monogamy is a myth.... It may be perfectly plausible to hold simultaneously more than one loving or sexual bond in a context of mindfulness, ethical integrity, and spiritual growth. Indeed, while working toward the transformation of jealousy into sympathetic joy and the integration of sensuous and spiritual love, for some it might even be expeditious.

The full article is available only in the paper magazine or to Tricycle's electronic subscribers.

Update August 31, 2006: "I've heard from the author of the article (Prof. Jorge N. Ferrer) and one of the editors of Tricycle that they've received numerous letters critical of the article," writes Mori Morrigan. "Apparently my little missive to them was one of the few [positive] comments they've received. If you read the article and appreciated it, you might consider sending something along to the editors (e-mail editorial@tricycle.com ).

"The author of the letter that appeared in the most recent issue assumed polyamory was the same as promiscuity and compared the proper Buddhist attitude to that as the same as toward a 'brutal murderer.' (That you should 'dwell in lovingkindness toward him' but not accept the conduct.) She then quotes extensively from the Buddhist canon on desire and monogamy (none of it friendly toward poly, as you can imagine). There is also a very incisive reply by Prof. Ferrer."

A lesson here: When we speak or write about multiple partnering, people will think in their own paradigm and assume we are excusing cheating and sneaking — unless we explicitly state what polyamory is about, use the word, and define it as the radical concept of "responsible non-monogamy with the full knowledge and consent of all concerned" (or words to that effect). The Tricycle article didn't quite do this.

As an editor in my day job, I've stressed for years that if the reader misunderstands something, it's the writer's fault.

P. S.: Here is a 20-page booklet titled "The Great Activity: Love and Enlightenment — a zine on the intersection of Buddhism and Polyamory" (2006).

P. P. S.: Here's a thread on NewBuddhist.com titled "Polyamory, Buddhist-style."


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August 4, 2006

"I Love You. And You. And You":
More British press clips

Some of you still don't think the poly TV documentary in the "Tainted Love" series (on Great Britain's Channel 4, July 26th) was altogether a bad thing. Maybe this new batch of press clippings from the UK will convince you.

The show was titled "I Love You. And You. And You." See our first report on the show and its aftermath, in particular the reader discussions under "comments" (where the show's most controversial character personally weighs in). [Update: as of 2013 you can see the show on Vimeo].

From the Financial Times (July 26):

"Polyamory" is what used to be called free love, now a sociological system whereby a so-called alpha male acquires several apparently compliant females....

Liz Friend's riveting, deadpan look at two households smacks of early Mike Leigh or futurist Ayckbourn. Terisa lives with Scott ("It works out well," he says in a strange, strangulated tone) and Larry, a perky psychobabbler.... Terisa's unwavering brightness becomes metallic when Scott seeks additional sex. I feel sorry for Scott and the dogs, possibly all longing for a conventional lifestyle. Not so Jerome ("I prefer more submissive women") with wife Francesca, girlfriend Angel and new recruit, sceptical Linda, whose face as Jerome's sexual schedule is worked out on the calendar is a picture of repressed emotion.

The Times of London (July 26):

It is every bit as complicated as polygamy, but not as illegal. There are still only 200 polyamorous relationships in the UK, so it doesn't yet offer much of an alternative to monogamous partnerships.

This programme, which follows two polyamorous groupings in the US, will show you why. There's that old jealousy thing, of course. Some partners are treated more equally than others. Three people may love the same one person, but may not necessarily like one another. The big cheese ends up with time-management problems; bedtime becomes a logistical nightmare and child-protection agencies go into meltdown.

The Mirror (July 26):

The way everyone here copes with jealousy is by pretending it doesn't exist, but listen hard and you can hear their teeth grinding in the silences between the creaking of bedsprings.

This documentary chucks in a lot of statistics, which I'm pretty certain they got the work experience to make up.

The Herald, Glasgow (July 26):

The fact that Jerome doesn't want any of his female partners to have another boyfriend does suggest that polyamory, in his case at any rate, doesn't necessarily translate as equality.

The Observer (July 23):

After last week's The Man with 80 Wives about the leader of a polygamous cult, this second in Channel Four's freaky Tainted Love series is a voyeuristic examination of the phenomenon of 'polyamory', defined here as the philosophy and practice of loving more than one person.

...What happens though when the 'family' includes some children? Another Seattle resident, Jerome, who has a wife and two girlfriends ('I prefer more submissive women because it just makes things easier...'), demands that the two extra-maritals leap out of the communal bed at 6am in order to be downstairs by the time the girls wake up, but he cannot help worrying that the Child Protective Services might find out and condemn their set-up.

Fascinating as this documentary is, it is hardly analytical and leaves many questions unanswered. Towards the end it degenerates into a kaleidoscopic portrayal of hard-to-fathom poly groupings all over the States intermingled with unexplained footage of them cavorting around naked at open-air conventions. In this country polyamory is in its infancy but even though 60 per cent of couples are said to be having affairs, I am far from convinced that the logistic nightmare of polyamory is the answer.

The Daily Mail (July 26):

A growing number of people, we are told, are turning to 'polyamory', also known as ethical nonmonogamy, in which long-term, multiple, but stable relationships have replaced the norm. 'Love is not finite,' says one of the people featured in this film, which follows two poly families (including Linda, Francisca, Jerome and Angel,
pictured below from left) over a period of three months to see if this way of life is sustainable.... The subject poses pertinent questions, even if this rather voyeuristic account doesn't provide answers.

The Independent (July 27):

...In the end, Nathalie and Jeremy were able to tackle Nathalie's addiction because the strength of their love outweighed the difficulties. It's unlikely any of the "polyamorous" relationships in I Love You. And You. And You would have survived such a scenario. "Polyamory" is the unattractive neologism for a form of unmarried, open-ended polygamy in which new partners can be added and subtracted like pieces of a Meccano set....

Liz Friend's documentary led with the case for multiple partners: that you need no longer "make do" with just one, and that practitioners can take new lovers without fear of jealousy or reprisal. Shadowing a couple of "poly-families" in Seattle, the film then spent the next hour gleefully demolishing such wishful thinking with the evidence of its own eyes. The simmering psychodrama of Larry, Terisa and Scott's open-ended relationship provided some of the best TV....

You could see what was in it for Larry, Terisa and Scott: Terisa sharing Larry and Scott, while Larry and Scott studiously ignored each other's existence. She was a narcissistic attention-seeker and the men both liked their own space, and it all bubbled along nicely on the surface, like many marriages for that matter, until Larry decided he wanted to introduce a new girl into their menage a trois. "That's cool, that's cool," protested Terisa too much, turning from timeshare lover into a liberal mother-from-hell, even helping Larry tidy his bedroom in case he got lucky with his first date. As it happened, Larry didn't get lucky, and his pet dog messed up his bed. Animals, it seems, are less adept at disguising their jealousy than humans.

Financial Times (July 29):

...Less grisly but much crueller was Wednesday's I Love You. And You. And You, a slyly witty portrait of polyamorists in the US.... It requires "faith that love is not finite", according to one enthusiast -- but love did seem to be stretched a bit thin in the two uneasy households....

At least monogamy doesn't demand so much of one's time-management skills. Jerome, the one-bloke-three-women bloke, had to resort to some pretty intricate diary-work to keep the household ticking over. Still, he got to take his women wargaming in the damp woods at the weekend. Camo-clad and toting a rifle, he urged his chubby harem to "work your way up the ridge!" One sensed that they were less into it than he was. But for viewers it was a treat.

Once again: we need more good poly families willing to come out and represent us. Because the world has started looking, and if we don't represent ourselves, the hostiles and the satirists will do it for us.

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August 3, 2006

"Beyond Marriage" statement sparks dialogue

Bay Area Reporter

"It's hard to ignore the buzz surrounding the 'Beyond Marriage' statement," writes Zak Szymanski in the Bay Area Reporter, a San Francisco gay newspaper (August 3, 2006). We first reported on the Beyond Marriage manifesto last week here. Szymanski explains: "The statement... calls for a new strategic LGBT vision that does not prioritize marriage over other family forms, and expresses concern that the LGBT movement's focus on marriage as a stand-alone issue has 'left us isolated and vulnerable to a virulent backlash,' including ballot initiatives and court rulings that dismantle existing rights such as domestic partnerships."

Polys are among those seeing this development as a breath of fresh air — one that could move the stale gay-marriage debate to the wider, better ground of relationship respect generally. The article continues:

"If we'd been arguing all along for a wide menu of options for family recognition of all kinds, then it wouldn't have been 'a gay issue,' it would have been an issue for African American communities, for HIV communities, for labor, for women's rights organizations ... many different movements could have been behind this," said Joseph DeFilippis, executive director of the New York-based Queers for Economic Justice and a leading organizer of the statement....

Much of the national media reaction to the statement has painted two distinct camps: traditional-minded gay couples fighting for marriage, pitted against sex-positive, alternative-family types.

...But recognizing that the majority of households in America are unmarried and that diverse families are in fact the American norm, many LGBT activists and groups said this week that they support both same-sex marriage as well as the ideas put forth by the Beyond Marriage statement, and they reject the push to characterize the dialogue as polarizing....

The trick may be in finding and funding the commonalities nationwide, thus creating a movement whose radicals can see the need for marriage, and whose marriage-minded get so accustomed to making a radical case for family recognition that the inevitable voices of diversity are seen as enriching instead of a threat....

Although some marriage activists expressed concern that the statement's references to polyamory and nontraditional families play into right-wing rhetoric about a "slippery slope" of partnership recognition, DeFilippis said that a marriage movement that feels it must ignore other families sets all LGBT rights up for failure.

"The way we live is the way we live. You can try to hide it, or deal with reality," he said. "Many people live in monogamous relationships, many people have multiple lovers. Others don't live with any lovers. We're not making this up by stating it in our document. I didn't get my Golden Girls example [of seniors creating households together] from Bea Arthur, it already exists."

Read the article.

Boston's Bay Windows also has a long news article out today:

Depending on who you ask, the July 26 release of "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships" was either an effort to expand dialogue about the direction of the LGBT movement or the latest shot fired in an internal war between LGBT activists who support the push for same-sex marriage and those who oppose it.

..."It really was this kind of, folks finding each other who had these views and felt sort of left out of the direction, not just of the marriage movement," but of the LGBT movement as a whole, said [Richard] Kim. He said the drafters met for two days in April to hash out the document and then spent the next two months working long-distance to write it collectively.

...DeFilippis added that critics of the statement have focused primarily on the support for polyamorous relationships, and he expected that to be used against the document by conservative opponents of LGBT rights. He said critics of the support for polyamory from within the community misunderstand the goal of the statement. "I want to be clear that this is not about pushing for polyamorous relationships per se. This is about separating church and state from the recognition of family and that the state has no business in determining what makes a valid family," said DeFilippis.

Read the article.

The Washington Blade is more skeptical:

Now the push for marriage equality faces a new challenge, after a group of activists publicly questioned the priorities of gay marriage supporters, revealing a schism among gay rights advocates....

Read the article. Also see the letter in the August 4th issue (third letter down) by Anita Wagner rebutting executive editor Chris Crain's editorial against the manifesto when it first came out.

On August 15th the American Spectator, a leading conservative-movement magazine, weighed in:

"Beyond Same Sex Marriage" could be dismissed as marginal, if not silly. But in fact, its conglomeration of issues and interest groups is quite edgy and even clever. Throw in special benefits for one parent families and the elderly with legal recognition for multiple sexual partners. Align everyone who is not in a two-parent with children household as a coalition, from the spinster sisters living together to the pagan polyamores. This new coalition's one unifying characteristic would seem to be resentment aimed at people in conventional marriages.

Political movements based on resentment are often powerful and long-lived. Do not expect this one to go away quietly.

Read the whole article. Hmmm, "Political movements based on resentment are often powerful and long-lived." Do I see some projection here?

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August 1, 2006

"Two Mommies and a Daddy"

The Christian Century
The main argument against polyamory that the Right seems to be settling upon is not one of sexual morality, or STDs, or even the "redefinition" of marriage, but rather, "What about the children?"

"The following article," comments Anita Wagner of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, "was written by Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values. Her organization is the one we should consider the opposition above all others. It receives a substantial portion of the millions of taxpayer dollars the Bush Administration shells out each year in support of protecting traditional marriage and to which we alternative-family advocates have zero access. These are the people who get all the funding to conduct studies on family issues, especially regarding what is, and according to their researchers is not, the kind of family scenario that is good for kids.

"Marquardt takes a fairly even tone here, but that shouldn't fool us." The article appears in the Christian Century, one of the oldest and largest mainstream Christian magazines, and is dated July 25, 2006:

...Besides this movement for polygamy ("many marriages"), there is a movement on behalf of polyamory ("many loves"). Polyamory involves relationships of three or more people, any two of whom might or might not be married to one another. Whereas polygamists are generally heterosexual, polyamorous people variously consider themselves straight, gay, bisexual or just plain "poly." Polyamorists distinguish themselves from the "swingers" of the 1970s, saying that their relationships emphasize healthy communication and what they call "ethical nonmonogamy."

Polyamorous unions have been around for a while, but now they and their supporters are seeking increased visibility and acceptance....

The topic is also emerging at the cutting edge of family law. Dan Cere of McGill University cites some examples, including: a substantial legal defense of polyamory published by University of Chicago law professor Elizabeth Emens in the New York University Law Review; a major report, "Beyond Conjugality," issued by the influential Law Commission of Canada, which queried whether legally recognized relationships should be "limited to two people"; and An Introduction to Family Law (Oxford University Press), in which a British law professor observes that "the abhorrence of bigamy appears to stem... from the traditional view of marriage as the exclusive locus for a sexual relationship and from a reluctance to contemplate such a relationship involving multiple partners."

...Web sites for practitioners of polyamory devote considerable space to the challenges of being a poly parent. On a blog at LiveJournal.com, one mom says, "Polyamory is what my kids know. They know some people have two parents, some one, some three and some more. They happen to have four. Honestly? Kids and polyamory? Very little of it affects them unless you're so caught up in your new loves you're letting it interfere with your parenting."

...A different set of challenges to the two-person understanding of marriage and parenthood is emerging from medical labs. Scientists are experimenting with creating artificial sperm and eggs and fusing them in unexpected ways.... Responding to donor-conceived adults who say they desperately wish to know and have a relationship with their sperm-donor fathers, expert commissions last year in New Zealand and Australia recommended allowing sperm and egg donors to opt in as third legal parents for children.

Such a move promises to create as many problems as it solves. Just one likely result: as soon as children are assigned three or more legal parents, the argument for legalizing group marriage will almost certainly go something like this, "Why should children with three legal parents be denied the same legal and social protections as children with only two parents have?"

Pity the children. We frequently see the havoc wreaked on children's lives when two parents break up and fight over their best interests. Imagine when three or more adults break up and disagree over the children to whom each has an equal claim. How many homes will we require children to grow up traveling between to satisfy the parenting needs of all these adults?

If two parents are good for children, are three even better? ...Is the two-parent, mother-father model important for children, or does it just reflect a passing fixation of our culture? The debate is upon us.

Read the whole article.