Mic.com looks at the future of poly marriage by 2030
"The story is out on mic.com and I'm really disappointed," writes Diana Adams, a leading lawyer for alternative families. "A sensationalist headline that provokes hatred, like we're trying to take marriage from everyone, and conflation of polyamory and polygamy throughout. He even said I listed Sister Wives as an example of poly in the media — I certainly did not. Sigh. This is why I have such poor trust in journalists."
What do you think? Excerpts:
What will the future hold for LGBTQ rights and representation? With this year’s Beyond Pride series, Mic looks forward to see how the radical changes in recent years will continue to transform our culture.
Marriage, Deconstructed: The Next Battle for Marriage Equality Could Mean the End of Marriage
(The Multiamory podcast crew: Jase Lindgren, Emily Matlack, Dedeker Winston)
By Steve Friess
A windowless, basement-level law firm conference room in suburban Kansas City was hardly the most romantic setting for Anne, David, Benjamin, Seth and Donna to affirm their various commitments to one another, but it would have to do. David and Benjamin wanted Anne and Donna to have certain parental rights for 8-year-old twins born to Donna, who call the women mom and ma. Donna wanted Seth, Benjamin and Anne to have equal say in her health decisions if she became incapacitated. They all wanted hospital visitation rights for one another. David, Benjamin and Donna also arranged for all three to appear on the deed of the home they sometimes share. Other permutations of wills, living wills and powers-of-attorney were settled as well.
Such customized patchworks are what pass for forms and gradations of “marriage” for polyamorous Americans.... Efforts to bring legal support to such complex interlocking relationships are also likely to become more commonplace by 2030.
“We know it’s weird to some people, but this is us,” says David, the only one of the quintet willing to talk — and under the condition that only their middle names be used. “There are things we want to protect if we can. But there are things we don’t want to be legally obligated to, too.”
Indeed, marriage itself is facing a devolution. Adults in increasingly unconventional relationships are trying to peel off pieces of what is now an all-or-nothing proposition and mold it to their interests and circumstances.
“We’re moving toward more of that unbundling, deconstructing of marriage down into parts so that people can access them and so we can allow for more creativity in family configurations,” said Diana Adams, an attorney based in New York City and Frankfort, Germany, whose practice focuses on guiding people involved in untraditional relationships. “Historically, you’re either married or you’re not married. This allows for the possibility of acknowledging families as they really exist in the United States. … I hope in 15 years we see a movement toward people being able to create legal relationships with the person or people of their choosing without the government being the arbiter of whether their sexual or romantic relationship is worthy of getting tax and immigration and other benefits.”
The concept of polyamory remains fairly new to most Americans. ... Modern polyamory “is more like interconnecting two-person relationships,” explains Dedecker Winston, 30, who co-hosts the weekly Multiamory podcast with Emily Matlack, 30, and one of Winston’s romantic partners, Jase Lindgren, 35. Matlack has also dated both Lindgren and Winston in the past. Winston splits her time between life with Lindgren in Los Angeles and life in Singapore with another man, Alex, who also has other relationships; Lindgren has another girlfriend, Crystal, who lives with her longtime girlfriend.
...That, they admit, is a lot for most people to comprehend — or for the government to accommodate, given how marriage laws have long been specifically designed to bestow a series of rights and privileges on two-adult units. The notion that any jurisdiction in the United States might fully recognize a triad — some poly folks dislike the portmanteau “throuple,” FYI — by the end of the next decade seems preposterous even to poly advocates.
“I don’t expect marriage among more than two people to be legally recognized in the foreseeable future,” said attorney Jonathan Lane, whose poly-friendly family-law practice is based in Washington D.C. “It’s easier to imagine government benefits being disconnected from marriage rather than having them apply to three people. It may be preferable to get the government out of the business of privileging romantic and sexual relationships entirely.”
Ironically, it is opponents of gay marriage who seem most convinced that legal polygamy is coming — and soon. In his dissent in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case that struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. …"
So far, lower courts in Utah and Montana have summarily dismissed the idea of legal polygamy as the next logical step, and the Utah legislature actually increased penalties for polygamy in 2017. A spate of similar lawsuits in Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama — filed by anti-same-sex-marriage activists seeking, oddly, to somehow undermine Obergefell by creating rights to polygamy or marriage between people and inanimate objects — have gone nowhere.
Those lawsuits are the work of outliers and saboteurs, and they represent an illogical conclusion of what many polyamorous families want, Matlack said.
“People who are willing and interested in multi-partner relationships have already divested themselves of the dream of finding one soulmate and getting married and it being forever,” she says. “There are more people who are vocal about just securing rights for single people. We know a lot of poly people who have actually given up their legal marriages. They’re still together but they want to be less hierarchical and be equal to everyone else involved in the relationship.”
The baby steps that may portend some broader legal acceptance and protection of poly families have occurred in the area of child-rearing. In March 2017, most notably, a New York judge granted custody of a 10-year-old Long Island boy to all of his parents, two women and a man who were once, but are no longer, in a three-way relationship. ...
The Long Island decision, heralded as a novelty because it involved an explicitly polyamorous situation, actually built on rulings by several state courts that first sought to resolve sticky custody questions that arose in divorces in which the child’s interest was served by ongoing relationships with adults such as former stepparents. ...
“The law often plays catch-up to how people are living their lives, and the ability to secure parental rights and responsibilities for more than two parents is a good example of that,” Lane says. ...
The whole article (June 4, 2018).