Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Transparency, Normality, Legality

Administrivia: You may have noticed the blog redesign, which is ongoing. Simply put, it was time for a change. I've fiddled with backgrounds and such in the past, but never gone beyond that. I'm still working out the kinks--trying to get an archive up that is (a) visible and (b) works--and I'm interested in feedback. Improvement? Put it back? Please comment.


Mark listens from upstairs. He can't make out much if any of the chatter he hears, but he can hear the laughter, frequent and  unrestrained, as Eva and I engage in our morning banter. It makes him smile. All is right with the world.

We're all sitting down to Eva's fantastic meatloaf. More banter around the table, and a sense of cozy togetherness, of simple domesticity, reigns: the polycule is all together, and all is right with the world.

Challenges come and are overcome through sharing and the axiom that four heads are better than one. Emotional support is sought and received and all is made right with the world.

THIS is polyamory. Why does it frighten people so much?

There is this pervasive misconception that, since polyamory requires the informed consent of all involved, our lives are open books. Nothing could be further from the truth. No matter how closely you read this blog, your assumptions about the dynamics of the relationships here are likely wrong several ways, by design.

"The thing to do with a nosy question," said Heinlein, "is to fail to hear it". I live by that; questions about who sleeps where, and who does what with whom before going to sleep, are and will always be met with stony silence. As Eva puts it, "95% of what happens here is normal family life. The other five percent is none of anybody's f--ing business." (I'd question her percentages; surely it's closer to 99%...)

Writing about it is tricky, I won't lie. I lean towards being open while respecting the privacy of others. I feel no shame and have not the least idea why I ought to be encouraged to; hiding things can be construed as being ashamed of them, I suppose, but: are you ashamed of your sex life? No? Then tell me all about it and spare no detail.

See where I'm going here?

I am, I will admit, more than a little defiant when people say "live how you want, but don't shove it in my face". This is who I am, and who I have been since long, long before we welcomed additional partners into our lives. More importantly, this is who they are. Our partners are not toys. They are not disposable. They are, in fact, every bit as important to us as we are to each other. My metamour is important to me. Eva's metamour is important to her. Nobody is trying to undermine relationships fact, as I have always said, "there is no they, only a bigger us".

This year, I'm going to be formally lending my voice and support to the cause of polyamorous marriage.

As with gay marriage, poly marriage does not affect 'conventional' marriages in any way. Nor is it required; there are many, many poly people who have nothing but disdain for the institution, for any number of reasons.  But for those who either wish to formalize a commitment, or may wish to in the future, the option is imperative.

Marriage grants certain legal rights. The ones that most concern me revolve around access within the health care system. That's the biggest reason I want to see alternative relationships legally recognized: it is monstrously cruel to deny access to one life partner because of the existence of another.

I was and am a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage. You may recall that when that was moving through the courts, there was an awful uproar over terminology. Many conservative people said things like, "well, they can commit to each other all they want, but don't call it a marriage". I always found this spurious, not to mention historically inept; same-sex marriages have been celebrated and legally recognized in many places and times, long before its sweep across the (Western) world in recent years.

So have group marriages of various configurations. Often, but not always, these things have been patriarchal and tremendously limiting to women. Today's polyamory is often MUCH more feminist in spirit (this is a really interesting article, if I do say so myself, with a link to an even more interesting TV clip).

The TV interviewers seek to up the drama in subtle ways. And it's true that one of Jaiya's  relationships needs more TLC than she's giving it, something the commenters seized on while predictably calling the whole thing selfish and immature. I still get a rueful chuckle out of that--how quick people are to hold polyamory itself responsible for less-than-optimal polyamorous relationships, while never once blaming monogamy when their monogamous marriage implodes. And don't get me going again on "selfish", grrrr.

For what it's worth, none of that obtains here. What few problems do arise are more likely to be housemate-centered than poly-centered, and all of it is  ironed out with calm communication.  Which leads to:

"For Jaiya, none of this is strange".  

This right here.

From the get-go, this felt normal for me. I am, occasionally, either aware or MADE aware of how strange it appears to the outside world, and beyond dispelling the ridiculous assumptions people come up with (no, this isn't a cult, no, I don't engage in wild orgies), my response to that is pretty much whatever. I remain convinced that time will soften people's opinions and hopefully bring them closer to acceptance. In the meantime, I plan on fighting for legal acceptance. (For a legal writeup, see here.)

Basically, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled that section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which casts an unbelievably wide net when it comes to criminalizing relationships, is unconstitutional as regards unformalized  polyamorous relationships. Polygamy of the sort associate with Mormons is still (rightfully, in my view) illegal. This is an important distinction; one of the fundamental principles of legal marriage is consent, and coerced arrangements such as seem to proliferate in fundamentalist Mormon society do not meet that legal standard.

But polyamory is all about consent. So this is a critical first step. A second, also critical step, has been taken with children in polyamorous households--Canadian courts have recognized that where possible, a child needs access to all parental figures, not just "biological" parents. (See this article, which features a local polyamorist and Facebook friend of mine.)

But more needs to be done. So long as consent can be proven, it should be a simple matter to amend the relevant laws to allow any number of spouses, and I see no compelling reason why this should not take place. Polyamory is, as has been noted in numerous places, on the rise. It's time the law caught up.


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