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

May 23, 2012

Foursome marriage? A Murdoch paper gets ahead of itself... and serious slippery-sloping in Australia

The Australian

In Australia as elsewhere, opponents of gay marriage warn that multiple marriage would come next — which is why Australia's major conservative newspaper (a Rupert Murdoch property) ran the interesting story below.

The headline is false. No proposal about marriage for four has been put to the Australian Senate.

Marriage for four put to Senate

By Ean Higgins

The power couple of Australia's increasingly open polyamorous community, Rebecca and James Dominguez, have made Senate submissions urging the legalisation of same-sex marriage, as they promote greater acceptance of multiple-partner relationships.

The couple have led the way in publicly outlining their own journey from monogamous marriage to one in which each has another lover as well.

In her blog, Ms Dominguez, who is an adminstrator with IBM in Melbourne, writes: "My life rocks . . . I am incredibly happy and have almost everything I could possibly want . . .

"I've built a house with my husband and my husband's boyfriend so there are four of us living together in nice harmony. (The fourth household member is Rebecca's boyfriend.)

"James outed himself to me as bisexual a year after we got married. Remarkably, this didn't really phase me.

"He talked to a nice female friend of ours that was interested in him, informed her about my boundaries and they agreed to have a sexual relationship.

"I felt more secure in my relationship with James . . . I knew that James wasn't going to leave me, that he could have sex with and love another woman and still love me and want to be married to me."

For many years Ms Dominguez was president of PolyVic, which promoted the "practice of honest, open, ethical multiple relationships".

More recently the couple have taken up leading positions in Bisexual Alliance Victoria.

The two organisations are closely connected and hold picnics which, the website says, are family-friendly with "food and drinks to share, picnic rugs or chairs, outdoor games, kids, dogs, kayaks".

As president of the alliance, Mr Dominguez, an IT specialist in the Victorian public service, wrote to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in support of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010.

"The legal definition of marriage itself has changed over history, such as the removal on restrictions of inter-racial marriage and the provision for divorce," Mr Dominguez wrote in the submission.

Ms Dominguez wrote in her own submission to the Senate committee: "Just as we have allowed changes in the past to things considered 'traditional' (equality of women, humanity of non-white people), we can change 'traditional' understandings of things now."

The couple say they are not championing the idea of legal recognition of polyamorous marriage now but hope it might evolve in decades to come.

"Some time in the distant future we should look at the idea of plural marriage," said Mr Dominguez.

It is exactly this thin end of the wedge which has led one of the Liberal members of the Senate committee, Eric Abetz, to warn of the dangers of same-sex marriage.

Once one goes beyond the concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman, Senator Abetz said, "the logical conclusion is the complete deconstruction of the institution that is marriage".

It would lead to demands for menages a trois and other combinations to gain the status of legal matrimony, he said, thus endangering "the security of the next generation".

"That's the extreme of what happens when you say love is love," Senator Abetz said.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said: "The A-G is on the record as supporting gay marriage and a conscious vote.

"On the second question (legalising menages a trois as marriages), the government is not considering this."

The Dominguezes hope in the short term for greater acceptance in society of polyamorous marriage.

"My family was initially unhappy, but I wasn't excluded or disowned," Ms Dominguez said.

See the original article (May 21, 2012). The same paper and author have written on this topic before.

The same day, The Australian published this:

Greens declare they are against polyamorous marriage

By Patricia Karvelas

May 21, 2012

The Greens have declared they have a clear policy against support for polyamorous marriage as they pursue their case for same-sex marriage.

Greens marriage equality spokeswoman Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has declared the Greens have a clear policy against support for polyamorous marriage....

For the whole article you need to register.


Rebecca Dominguez in the first story comments to us (quoted with permission):

I believe that this whole charade was to manufacture a controversy where there was none, and to target the Greens (an Australian political party), who have been doing quite well participating in the Senate Committee on Marriage Equality. No other mainstream media in Australia touched this mess (thankfully) and at least one right-wing, conservative Christian organisation (the Australian Christian Lobby) rewrote their press release after doing some research (they had started out saying that I was using the same language to fight for polyamory that was used in the equal marriage debate, where I was just using that language for the equal marriage debate).

I don't think the Australian will feel any pressure to correct their headline, no other media organisations in Australia have picked it up and the whole thing has been bypassed in relation to real news.

Dominguez sent a letter to The Australian, as posted on her blog:

I am very disappointed and upset that I was so badly misrepresented in the article written by Ean Higgins and published in The Australian 21 May 2012. There are factual inaccuracies and inferences in the article which I would like corrected.

The headline was a deliberate attempt to mislead readers into thinking my submission to the senate supported polyamorous marriage when in fact it did no such thing. My submission, which has been publicly viewable on my personal blog since 12 March 2012, was in favour of equal marriage for same sex attracted couples, similar to many other submissions in favour. There was no mention of polyamory, and in my discussions with Ean Higgins I believed that I was clear that my submission was not in favour of introducing polyamory, but in favour of marriage equality for same sex attracted couples. I am not championing polyamorous marriage.

Furthermore, I do not speak for the poly community in Australia and any suggestion that I do so is a complete fabrication.

Update May 24: The original Australian writer has now published this:

Greens fall foul over menage a trois ban

By Ean Higgins

The Greens face a backlash from polyamorists outraged after senator Sarah Hanson-Young rejected their aspirations for equal rights in her bill to legalise gay marriage.

The blogosphere has been full of vitriol, with postings from participants in menages-a-trois and other plural relationships who feel dejected since Senator Hanson-Young said the institution of marriage should involve only two consenting adults...

In fact there's no vitriol cited; the article could quote just one polyamorist, who (does this count as big news in Australia?) left a comment on Facebook:

"The first time in a long time the Greens have disappointed me," Tracey Kerr wrote on Senator Hanson-Young's Facebook page. "I know that it might be politically expedient to cast us poly people out but true marriage equality should let the people getting married decide what their family looks like."

Here's the whole article (May 24, 2012). This is why we love Murdoch papers.

There's more! Based on the ginned-up stuff above, The Australian now runs an editorial (May 24, 2012):

THE question of equal rights for polyamorists is not an issue on which The Australian is inclined to declare its hand, since multiple simultaneous relationships, conducted within the law by consenting adults, are a private matter.

Advocates of same-sex marriage, however, do have an obligation to state clearly if polyamory, or any other boutique form of intimacy for that matter, will be accommodated under the legal changes they wish to introduce, and if not, why not....

Update May 25: The Australian is really trying to keep this thing alive: Same-sex marriage campaigners distance themselves from polyamorists' demands.

And more, May 28: Greens challenged on poly marriage policy, again by Ean Higgins.

And a rebuttal to keep the pot boiling, Defenders of marriage risk jumping at shadows:

By Rodney Croome

IN our society, marriage is understood to be the exclusive, monogamous union of two people for life.

Same-sex couples fit easily within this definition, while polygamists and polyamorists don't....

May 29: Other Murdoch outlets join in: News.com.au, and several Murdoch papers in Australia, publish Confessions of a polygamist: A man's love for two sisters. The website also titles the story "My Polygamous Life: I'm the meat in the sandwich".

Marc Glasby was faithful to his wife Belle for 30 years until he fell in love with her identical twin sister, Dorothy.

Now he loves them both. And they love him. And the three of them live together, the women taking it in turns to sleep with Marc.

Polygamy – marrying multiple people - is illegal in Australia, but there is clearly no law against polyamory – loving multiple people.

In some Australian communities – including Muslim, Aboriginal, African, and some religious groups, polygamy is practised informally.

And Polyamory Australia (“supporting ethical non-monogamy”) says on its website the poly community is diverse, and thriving....

On the up side, this was the day The Australian printed Nikó Antalffy's lovely piece on what polyamory is about. She refused to engage in the marriage controversy. Sweet reward of open loving — but polyamory is no free-for-all.

May 30: Back to The Australian's daily usual: Will incestuous couples want marriage rights?.

In the U.S., the flap has caught the attention of Newsweek/ Daily Beast columnist David Frum: "Gays Against Polyamory" (originally titled "Gays Against Polygamy").

June 12:

The Australian Christian Lobby now mass-mails a slippery-slope video in its campaign against the gay-marriage bill being considered in the Senate:

Kirby stars in Christian same-sex attack video

By Ean Higgins

THE Australian Christian Lobby, emboldened by statements from the polyamorous community calling for legal recognition of multi-partner marriage, has produced a video advertisement warning of the "slippery slope" of gay marriage.

The ACL will send the video to 110,000 people by email today, hoping it will go viral at a time when the Greens' same-sex marriage bill is being examined in a Senate committee.

The video, which runs for a minute and a half, aims at wedging the Greens who, while insisting their bill only deals with marriage between two consenting adults, have not excluded extending legalisation to menages-a-trois and other sexual configurations in the future.

A statement by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young last month excluding multi-partner marriage from her bill has outraged some Greens. Some who complained on Senator Hanson-Young's Facebook page or in the general media are polyamorous, but some are homosexual or bisexual who see true equality in marriage as necessarily including the poly community.

The ACL video starts with the line: "Marriage equality -- no consequences? Wait a minute."

It uses a grab from retired High Court judge Michael Kirby, an advocate for gay rights, who told the Senate committee last month that while homosexual marriage was the question now, in the future there could be "some other question". Responding to a question from the committee as to whether same-sex marriage could lead to polyamorous marriage rights, Mr Kirby said: "The lesson in court and in the parliament, I suggest, is that you take matters step by step."

The video then uses a grab from Brisbane-based polyamorist activist and Greens voter Rachelle White saying in a radio interview that what Mr Kirby said was "very important".

Senator Hanson-Young said yesterday: "The Greens' policy, reflected in my marriage equality bill, is for two adults to be allowed to get married, regardless of their gender. The Australian Christian Lobby continues to represent nobody, with most religious groups wary of their nasty, unChristian attitudes. A great many religious and non-religious Australians reject their hate campaign and simply want equality of marriage rights for same-sex couples."


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Blogger Rathowyn said...

Ah dear me. Hooray for accurate, impartial representative journalism. I do so miss it and wonder where it's gone, because you certainly won't find it in that article...

I live in Australia - and in Victoria, actually, about two hours outside of Melbourne - and while I've never met these people I do hope the very best for them. Australia needs more strong poly folk capable of courteous speech.

May 23, 2012 11:28 AM  
Blogger DexX said...

Hello! I am the James in the article. Thanks for your excellent analysis (not just on this issue but on all the news stories you comment on). I hold no grudge against The Greens - they were rolled over a barrel and their very reasonable response, that they have no policy regarding poly marriage, must have been a huge disappointment for the Christian right wing. I just want to re-stress that: despite the Oz misquoting yet again and saying The Greens are "against" poly marriage, they have actually said simply that it's not part of their platform and they have no plans to pursue it. If there is ever a popular movement to legalise poly marriage in the future, The Greens will be the first to lend their support, I guarantee it. A few poly people are angry with them for not expressing support, but I think we need to be realistic.

Anyway, thanks again!

May 23, 2012 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Caniel McC said...

Media Watch?

Incidentally, I suspect that the Australian Sex Party will be the first political party to support poly marriage, should that ever come to be an issue. :)

May 23, 2012 11:57 AM  

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