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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fundamentalists on Polyamory and Consanguinamory

I came across this when searching for this poignant story. It’s a website for reactionary evangelicals, primarily ones who oppose the liberalization taking place in their own church hierarchies. They’re commenting on the same story.
The comments are fascinating to read. The topic forces them to delve into not just homosexuality, but polyamory and consanguinamory. What makes their conversation important is that the people commenting aren’t your standard fare reactionaries: they’re very articulate and aware of the various arguments. This gives us a great window into what we’re fighting against.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"I've got two boyfriends. It's time polyamory became socially acceptable."

This short video from The Guardian lays out many of the arguments for social and legal equality, very quickly.
Simon Copland's two partners know about each other. In fact, it was James who introduced him to Martyn. Their polyamorous lifestyle is based on the belief that love is limitless. But if all love is equal, why do those in alternative relationships miss out on social and legal benefits that other couples enjoy? 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

So many people have been taken by the "justice" system

I found an article from a few years back about two separate cases involving GSA couples getting convicted, neither of which I'd known about. There are so many little cases all over the place it can be hard to know you've missed them.
An Auckland public official has been convicted of planning a sexual relationship with his long-lost biological daughter whom he had not seen since she was a child. The man, 58, and his daughter, 41, jointly charged with conspiracy to commit incest, were convicted in the Auckland District Court this week. The pair, who have permanent name suppression, met in August 2008 after the man tracked her down in Britain. She flew to New Zealand for a two-week holiday and then kept in close contact by phone, email, text and webcam. The correspondence expressed sexual attraction between the two.
Experts call this the "phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction" between parents and children who meet for the first time as adults.
The daughter left her husband and children and returned to New Zealand in October 2008 to live with her father and his family.
The daughter's husband in the UK became suspicious and hired a private investigator to tail the pair. He then laid a complaint with the New Zealand police, who laid charges in March last year of conspiracy to commit incest and committing incest. The pair denied having sex and the more serious incest charge was later withdrawn by police.
But the case has destroyed the man's 36-year marriage and relationships with his other adult children. His occupation has been suppressed and he has been stood down for an internal inquiry. The daughter was also married, with two children. She plans to stay here and hasn't seen her children for two years.
Weekend Herald inquiries revealed the man began searching for his daughter in the UK on a missing-persons website more than two years ago. The on-line post included photos of the daughter as a 3-year-old and photos of her grandparents. The couple pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and asked Judge Lindsay Moore to discharge them without conviction. He refused, but gave them suspended sentences, so they escape further penalty unless they commit another crime in the next year. Judge Moore granted permanent name suppression not to protect the pair but to prevent further humiliation for the man's family.
The convictions are similar to a case in which an Auckland woman tracked down her biological father in Britain in the late 1990s. The woman, in her late 20s and married with four children, split from her husband and the father, in his mid-40s, moved into her house. Her former husband eventually laid a complaint with police. Her father was found guilty of incest in July last year and ordered to do 300 hours' community work, but his daughter was acquitted.
In sentencing, Judge David Wilson said this was an attraction between two adults not very different in age. "This was a consensual relationship. The typical harms that rise from incestuous relationships were not present. You were not the father in the house raising the child."
Sex therapist Robyn Salisbury said the "phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction" was not uncommon in reunited parents and children. Finding a biological parent and meeting them for the first time created powerful emotions. "It's more about the sense of finding themselves in the other. The longing that can follow is such a powerful feeling. People get lost in the intensity [of being reunited] and that can translate into intimacy."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Winning Rights for the Polyamorous"

This is a great piece via Full Marriage Equality about the history of the struggle for same-sex marriage, and what the success of same-sex marriage means for non-monogamous marriage. It makes several good points, the most important of which is that struggles for child custody laws and property rights independent of marriage will need to come first.
On October 6, the Supreme Court denied review, without comment, of all seven petitions addressing state court decisions to overturn same-sex marriage bans. The practical implication of these decisions is that same-sex marriage will become law, piecemeal, through state court decisions.
This outcome was not unpredictable; in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on September 17, Justice Ginsburg predicted that “cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court’s timing.” She said “there will be some urgency” if that circuit allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would “run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner.”
In other words, the reason for the Supreme Court’s silence (and tacit approval) might be the clear trend of public opinion supporting same-sex marriage, evidenced by the overall agreement among state courts. This interpretation reinforces something that law and society scholars have studied in other contexts: the relationship between legal and social mobilization for rights is spiral-shaped. Law can sometimes push society, and changes in the zeitgeist can produce legal change in their turn.
This approach offers considerable hope to a group of people whose rights are not addressed by the latest developments: polyamorous activists. Polyamory is the practice of having multiple romantic relationships, simultaneously, with the knowledge and consent of all parties. Polyamorous relationships can take many forms, from committed triads to more fluid networks of partners and lovers.
Shortly after the first San Francisco round of same-sex marriages in 2004 I interviewed polyamorous activists, who at the time expressed little interest in legal activism. This was partly out of deference to the same-sex marriage struggle. More recently, however, with the success of marriage equality, the community is exhibiting more interest in legal recognition of polyamorous relationships. Some of this renewed interest in legal mobilization is inspired by same-sex marriage, and some of it relates to the increased public visibility of polyamory; nonmonogamous relationships have been highlighted on several popular television shows, like Big LoveSister Wives, and Polyamory: Married and Dating.
But while these developments open the door to legal recognition of multiparty relationships, they also create considerable challenges for polyamorous activists. Social movement scholars usually assume that struggles for legal rights are incremental — that is, progress for a given movement increases the chances that the movement that follows it will be successful. But sometimes, this “spillover” effect is more complicated.
As Gwendolyn Leachman and I argue in a longer piece, a big part of the success of same-sex marriage can be attributed to the change in the character of the struggle. In the 1970s, gay liberationists sought marriage not as a realistic option, but as a form of symbolic protest against the oppression of heteronormativity, which for them was represented by marriage. While “rogue” marriage cases continued to hit the courts on occasion, the movement overall turned to other, less extreme forms of legal recognition: antidiscrimination lawsuits, child custody cases, and the like. It’s not so much that the gay rights movement was too radical for marriage; it’s more accurate to say that, at the time, marriage was too radical for them as an attainable goal. It was only after the surprising legal success in Hawaii that activists turned their attention again to marriage in a serious way. By then, public opinion in favor of same-sex marriage had begun to change, and its proponents presented a mainstream, “just-like-you” version of marriage to a less-threatened mainstream public.
In the recent Supreme Court cases, U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, this mainstream argument relied, in part, on differentiating the nonthreatening, hardly-radical character of same-sex marriage from other relationship structures, including nonmonogamous relationships. In one of many examples, Ted Olson, arguing on behalf of same-sex marriage activists, explicitly distinguished the two, saying that “the polygamy issue, multiple marriages raises questions about exploitation, abuse, patriarchy, issues with respect to taxes, inheritance, child custody, it is an entirely different thing. And if a state prohibits polygamy, it’s prohibiting conduct. If it prohibits gay and lesbian citizens from getting married, it is prohibiting their exercise of a right based upon their status.”
Clearly, polyamorous activists are not solely benefitting from the success of the marriage equality struggle; they also have to overcome the hurdles that success has created for them. If their success is to follow a similar pattern, there may be other victories, in areas of adoption, custody and employment discrimination, that need to be won first. And a crucial component of their struggle’s success would be a significant improvement in public opinion of nonmonogamous relationships, which is complicated by anti-Mormon and anti-Islamist sentiments. The most important lessons that polyamorous activists can learn from same-sex marriage proponents is the need to address several different fronts, courting public opinion and legal mobilization simultaneously, as well as the immense value of the passage of time in bringing about broader tolerance.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Put an End to This Horror Story...

A family is being destroyed by their extended family and fundamentalist neighbors because they’re a queer poly family. And by destroyed I mean destroyed, as much as any family can without being imprisoned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The legal complexities of polygamy

Someone on Tumblr asked my about my opinion on the legal complexities of polyamorous marriage.
Hi, I like your blog but I have a legit question about poly relationships. I have heard people say that poly marriages would be a big headache as far as any divorces would be concerned, specifically involving children and custody. What is your take on that? Any reasons it would, in fact, be very messy, or any ways that it wouldn't? I'm talking purely legal fallout, not actual support for full equality (because I support it!!)
I took this opportunity to elaborate my preferred system of marriage:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Even without outright murder, cultures have still found a way to eliminate "undesirables"

According to Douglas Oliver and Lev Shternberg, [suicide] was also the response to incest among the Solomon Island Siuai and the Gilyak. Oliver notes that when a Siuai couple who "flaunted the convention against [sibling] incest by openly living together" were censured by their relatives the girl committed suicide by hanging, and Shternberg found that among the Gilyak "it was not uncommon for lovers belonging to prohibited categories to kill themselves at the instigation of their relatives. In one of the songs of such an unfortunate pair the woman complains that her sister called her a bitch, and her beloved a devil because he was her uncle; and that all her loved ones - father, mother, and sister - kept telling her, 'Kill yourself, Kill yourself.'"
- Arthur P. Wolf, Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos

Many cultures historically have tortured consanguinamorous people to death

Margaret Williamson was told by the Kwoma that “if a man saw his son and daughter having sex he must immediately kill his son and cast his body into the bush.” Similarly, Grenville Goodwin found that among the Western Apache “if a close blood relative and clan-mate of the offenders, such as a brother, should actually see the culprits cohabitating or making love, he might kill one or both immediately.” One of the two cases recorded by Goodwin involved a man with two brothers and one sister. "One day he went off hunting. On his way home he came on one of his brothers out in the brush cohabiting with his sister. He shot them both."
[…] In the Apache case the chief of the culprits’ local group summoned a council and told them what had happened. “The culprits were then sent for or, if necessary, brought by force. They were flatly accused of their crime, and if they denied it, as they were likely to do, they were strung by the wrists from the limb of a tree, just high enough to permit their toes barely to touch the ground. Culprits who would not talk could be left hanging all day, and a fire might be built under the man. … Ordinarily the woman was not killed for the offense, because she saved herself by confessing. The man might be put to death whether he confessed or not.”
[…] Rafael Karsten [reports] that among the Jivo “incest and any illicit sexual intercourse is regarded with the greatest horror and severely punished by cruel ill-treatment. One case of this kind came under my notices when a young Jivaro Indian eloped with his father’s sister. All the male relatives of the family were pursuing the couple, and they assured me that if they got hold of them they would kill them.
[…] Punishment for incest was as cruel in Ibo-speaking villages in Eastern Nigeria as among the Vedda and the Pashtun. M. M. Green found that “in the old days offenders would have been buried alive in the Agbaja market place, Orie Ekpa. This burying of them would purify and appease Ala [the goddess of earth and fertility].” Green’s informants “maintained that even now if such an offence were known to have taken place people would go secretly at night and cut a hole through the mud wall into the man’s house and kill him. He would then be placed at the foot of a palm tree, from which passers-by would imagine him to have fallen to his death.
[…] With regard to the Cayapa, one of the native peoples of southern Brazil, Milton Altschuler writes, “Incest is generally viewed by the Cayapa as being particularly heinous. In the older days, it is asserted, anyone guilty of such a crime would be placed over a table which was covered with lighted candles, and then, slowly roasted to death.
[…] When [the Jale caught and punished incest] […] the couple’s genitals were excised [i.e. cut from their bodies] and wrapped in leaves. [The genitals were then used in a ritual to purify the community of the couple’s sin.]
[…] The celebrated naturalist Charles Hose reports that while he was among the Murats, Klemantans, Kayans, and Ibans, “almost all offences were punished by fines only,” incest being the notable exception. “[…] If the guilt of the culprits was flagrant, they were taken to some open spot on the river bank at some distance from the house. There they were thrown together on the ground and sharpened bamboo stakes were driven through their bodies, so that they remained pinned to the earth. […] The other method of punishment was to shut up the offenders in a strong wicker cage and to throw them in the river. […]”
[…] Before they were colonized by the Dutch, the Toraja drowned incestuous couples or burned them to death. […] Our authority on the Miang Tuu, Herald Brach, tells us that “When incest occurred, the offenders were placed together in a large bamboo bubu [a kind of fish weir] and sunk in the sea. […]”
 - Arthur P. Wolf, Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos

The "incest" taboo has been very flexible over time

[...] [T]he Trobriand incest taboo had a sharp matrilineal bias. Where sex with a mother's sister's daughter was regarded as "a real crime" and could "lead to consequences as serious as suicide," sex with a father's sister's daughter was approved to the extent of being recommended for inexperienced boys. In the Trobriand view she was "the prototype of the lawful, sexually recommended woman."
In the Trobriand view, "the sister [is] for her brother the very centre of all that is sexually forbidden [...]." When brother and sister had to appear in the same company [...] a rigidity of behavior and a sobriety in conversation were required of all those present. "No cheerful company, no festive entertainment, therefore, is allowed to include brother and sister, since their simultaneous presence would throw a blight on pleasure and would chill gaiety."
Where brother and sister were subject to the Supreme Taboo, father and daughter were free to interact frequently and casually. "Although father-to-daughter incest is regarded as bad, it is not described by the [Trobriand word for "incest"] [...]. The reason, for Trobrianders, is that while a woman's brother belongs to her clan, her father does not. He is only her mother's husband.
- Arthur P. Wolf, Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos

The psychological roots of the "incest" taboo

A natural tendency to see rare events as ominous would insure a basic similarity of response, and any disagreement would quickly be overcome by what Roger Brown calls 'an almost ineradicable tendency for members of a group to move toward agreement.'

There is, then, no need to burden the incest taboos with the Herculean task of holding up society [which Freudians and their ilk propose]. They can be fully accounted for as the creations of two aspects of human nature - a fear of events perceived as abnormal or unnatural, and what social psychologists take to be a universal human need to 'belong with' those around us.

[...] Another [similar reaction] is the reaction to twinning. It is far more common than [post-puberty] incest but rare compared to singular births, the result being that it is commonly regarded as an abnormal event foretelling misfortune. [...] [T]he Italian pediatrician Alessandra Piontelli found that while that part of Southeast Asia known as the Golden Triangle was home to many peoples, 'they all shared one thing in common, a loathing of twins.' They were regularly disposed of at birth by strangulation for fear the mother had been impregnated by an evil spirit.

[...] There is [almost] always a consensus condemning incest because most people interpret incest as threatening and the few who do not, accept the majority view because they want to belong.
- Arthur P. Wolf, Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos

Enforcement and non-enforcement of the "incest" taboo for political power

[...] Claude Meillassoux [suggests] that [incest taboos] were instituted "when control over marriages became one of the elements of political power. [...] In other words incest is a moral notion produced by an ideology which is tied to the extension of power in domestic communities, as one of the means used to control the mechanisms of reproduction. It is not an innate proscription, (if it were it would in fact be the only one of its kind)." Meillassoux concludes by proclaiming that "what is presented as a sin against nature is in fact only a sin against authority."

[...] [Meillassoux's theory's] value lies in suggesting that whatever may be the reason for their existence, the incest taboos may have been used to organize or control people. In other words, they may have been co-opted for purposes they were not created for and possibly extended or modified in ways that belie their origins. I will argue later that this helps explain why the incest taboos vary from society to society and why they are sometimes deliberately violated.

[...] Incest is no longer a crime in many European countries, but this is a recent development peculiar to governments whose legitimacy rests on grounds other than moral superiority or supernatural status. Political history tells us that elites almost always criminalized incest as part of the process by which they institutionalized their power.

The twelfth-century Hittites provide a vivid example. Hittite law tolerated couplings between persons related by marriage [...], but prohibited on pain of death couplings between blood relatives. [...] The Hittite concern is preserved in a rebuke issued by Suppiluliuma I to a vassal who was rumored to tolerate sex between cousins and perhaps even between siblings. It reads: "For Hatti it is an important custom that a brother does not have sex with his sister or female cousin. It is not permitted. Whoever commits such an act is put to death. But your land is barbaric, for there a man regularly has sex with his sister or cousin. [...] But you must not desire to have sex with her. It is not permitted, and people are put to death as a result of that act. [...]"

The Roman state was no more tolerant of incest than the Hittite. According to Percy Corbett, the punishment for incest during the Republic was to throw the offender from the Tarpeian Rock, it being "a familiar school of controversy in the first century of the Empire whether a woman who survived the fall should be thrown again." [...] Corbett notes that believing the frequency of incestuous marriages was on the rise in Osroene and Mesopotamia, "Justinian was driven to repressing them with the threat of death to both parties and their offspring."

In imperial China incest was the only one of the "ten unpardonable offences" that did not involve treason [...]. In Ming and [Qing] times (1368-1912) the punishment was strangulation for persons related in the second and third degrees, and beheading for those related in the first degree. Derk Bodde and Clarence Morris note the case of a man who was "sentenced to 100 blows of the heavy bamboo and three years penal servitude" for sexual relations with the daughter of his fifth-degree younger cousin. Severe as it was, this punishment was later felt to be inadequate and the law was supplemented to add "40 days [in the stocks]."

Japan provides a clear case of how the treatment of incest changes with the creation of a strong central authority. When in the seventh century, before the country was united, the Japanese adopted a version of the Chinese legal code, they did not follow the Chinese in making incest an "unpardonable offence," instead leaving punishment of incest to supernatural agents. But when they revised their code in the seventeenth century, after hegemonic rule had been firmly established, they included the Chinese proscription, making beheading followed by public display the punishment for incest.

Politicization of the incest taboos is even more obvious in the case of the Inca. Garcilaso de la Vega informed the world that "it must be known that Kings Ynca, from the first, established it as a very stringent law and custom that the heir to the kingdom should marry his eldest sister." [...] But while requiring that the royal line be perpetuated by way of incest, Inca custom commanded that among commoners "no one may marry his sister or his mother or his first cousin, nor aunt, nor niece or female relative or god-mother, under penalty of punishment: their two eyes will be gouged out and they will be cut into quarters and they will be placed on the hills as a reminder and punishment, for only the Inca is to marry his carnal sister, according to law."

[...] A complete account of incest taboos is possible but only if we recognize their political uses. These explain not only why the taboos are extended beyond the nuclear family, but also why they are sometimes deliberately violated. The general point is that while the emotions that motivate the taboos originate in the family, they are like all other human emotions, in that they can be co-opted to serve political purposes.
- Arthur P. Wolf, Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos

Enforcement of the taboo has long been a tool used to increase the perception of the legitimacy of the state. It's no different than how political and religious leaders in African countries and Russia have been using homosexuals as a "foreign" scape goat to rally support behind themselves and gain followers.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Great Person Is Dead

"Stanford anthropologist Arthur P. Wolf dies at 83":
Arthur P. Wolf, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Professor in Human Biology and professor of anthropological sciences at Stanford University, died on May 2, 2015. He was 83.
Wolf was born on March 2, 1932, in Santa Rosa, California. Growing up in a family of ranchers and loggers, he started working at an early age, picking prunes in grade school, then working as a logger in high school. While attending Santa Rosa Junior College, he supported himself working as a miner and logger, even traveling to Alaska one summer to work in the gold fields.
After receiving an associate degree from Santa Rosa College, Wolf received a Telluride Fellowship to Cornell University where he received his bachelor's degree in English literature and doctorate in anthropology. Before coming to Stanford, Wolf was an assistant professor of anthropology and psychology at Cornell University.
[...] Wolf spent many years doing field research in Taiwan, amassing a vast archive of information on early 20th-century Taiwanese households. This work and other studies in comparative Taiwan/Dutch demography continued at Stanford, where he taught in the Department of Anthropology from 1968 to 2015.
Wolf 's research focused on how biology and culture jointly shape the human condition. He examined family practices (including marriage and adoption), the transmission of property and population trends, as he simultaneously undertook traditional social anthropological and not-so-traditional human biological field research in Taiwan.
He was the author or editor of numerous books and articles, including "Sexual Attraction and Childhood Association: A Chinese Brief for Edward Westermarck"; "Marriage and Adoption in China, 1845-1945"; and "Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboos".
William Durham, Stanford professor of anthropology and human biology, co-edited "Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboos" with Wolf. Durham said, "The book was an outgrowth of a unit Arthur and I taught together for more than 25 years in the human biology core. We staged it as a debate between different perspectives on the incest taboo, putting the students in the role of judge, which they loved. He knew the topic so well, and his data were so convincing, that the best I could do most years was a tie. His writings on the topic rank as an anthropological classic and will be read for years to come."
An engaging speaker, Wolf was a popular teacher and was once called "the best lecturer in the department" by one of his previous graduate students, Steven Sangren. "Wolf has the talent of communicating very complex ideas very effectively; he simplifies them so well that people don't always realize the penetrating analysis that underlies them," Sangren said. In 1976, Wolf received the Dean's Award for Teaching in the School of Humanities and Sciences. "Wolf's lectures were a masterful combination of ethnographic narrative and social analysis," said Sylvia Yanagisako, the Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies and professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology. "He was also a generous and effective mentor of junior faculty."
Wolf's participation in Stanford's Program in Human Biology began in 1976, and his teaching and curricular innovations were a tremendous asset to the program. "I taught the Introduction to Human Biology with Arthur for 15 years, and each time, I benefited again from his exceptional ability to explain how culture and biology interact to make us human," said Wolf's close friend Richard Klein, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and professor of anthropology and biology.
Wolf is survived by his wife, Hill Gates, whom he married in 1990. Getting back to his roots, he and Gates maintained the Wolf family ranch in northern Sonoma County, which they shared with sheep, deer, feral pigs and turkeys. They were in the process of building a writers' retreat on the property, using lumber logged from the land and doing the work themselves.

His death has really shocked and upset me. Arthur Wolf’s work has had a big effect on me, on my thinking. Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboos is a tour de force of social science, and it is what inspired me to choose the career path I have. I was really hoping to meet him one day, to discuss my research with him. Now I’ll never have the chance to know him.

A Polyamorous Mother Denied Her Rights

From Full Marriage Equality:
I'm a college educated demisexual bi-romantic white cis-woman in her 30s. I work in education. […] I live on the west coast in a house with H and W and our children, G and B. H is a grad-level educated cishet Latino man in his mid 30s. He’s a scientist, who loves to read, hike, bike and other random outdoors activities. W is in his mid-twenties, is a white cis male who is bi-romantic and mostly heterosexual.
[...] H and I are legally married, and have been for about a decade and a half…together for longer. W has never been legally attached to anyone (although we have power of attorney papers) and M (H’s white cishet girlfriend) has also never been married or legally partnered. W short-hands our relationship as married, though… and we’ve talked about how nice having some sort of ceremony would be.
[...] H and I have two biological children (a tween girl, G, and an elementary school aged boy, B). They live with H, W and myself,  and spend some nights with H and M at her place. Neither W nor M has kids, bit W wants one, and we’re open to that (although I cannot have more biological children). G and B know that all three adults in the home are their parents and W is their legal guardian… We’ve discussed a legal 3rd parent adoption at some point in the future.
[...] I think of our relationship as a V… and then H has M and W is looking for his other. For me, the three of us are the central relationship. H thinks of it as an N, and it will eventually end up an M if W finds his other partner and H and M work out.  In my mind, though, the three of us are life partners (kids, lifelong promises and financial entanglements… plus the shared living arrangements).
[...] It started, in short, because W (who we knew was poly) was living with us and fell for me… he told H, and we started talking about what that meant. We’d had a rather in-depth discussion about it before, due to the fact that I’m bi-romantic and had crushed on a female friend, but this was much more in-depth. Once it was clear I was falling in love with W, we found a poly-friendly therapist, re-read some literature, and started moving, slowly, in this direction. It took months to get to where H was comfortable with us kissing, and then with other non-sexual specific shows of affection… and then things took a turn when he became interested in M. Eventually, we all started this journey (albeit tentatively)… and then W decided he never wanted to leave us, our kids or our home. I asked him, with a ring and everything, if he’d stay with me… proposal style. He said yes, and that’s where we are.
We’re relatively closed (H and I only have our one other partner) and w is a stickler for tests and safe sex if he gets to that point with other people he’s dating. He’s looking for one other life-partner. M is casually dating but not having sex with other people at this point.
[...] I was aware [of polyamory], and had done some reading, as we’d had families in poly configurations near us, spent some time with them, and developed a group of friends who were largely poly. I find the way it is practiced among many people to be a turn-off to me (casual sex generally is, due to my demi-sexuality and my cautious nature) but that is their choice. The larger-family-building option has seemed like a much better fit for us.
[...] We’ve told W’s mother, a few close friends of mine (most if whom are poly), H’s best friend and our housemates. W is honest with the people he dates, and M tells lots of people (her friends, mother, work friends…).  We’re going to tell H’s brother when we see him next month, and I might tell mine, but we’re generally pretty tight lipped about it, since it would destroy the relationships we have with our parents (which are tenuous anyway…but the kids love their grandparents). G has figured it out (in a “H and M, sitting in a tree…” kind of way) and we’ve had to explain to her how that’s not information for the general public (and why). Just the suspicion of it has brought child services into our home, and I’d like to avoid that in the future.
And yes, child protective services has actually come to our home because someone suspected us of living in “an atypical arrangement that may be harmful to our children.” If that isn’t discriminatory, I don’t know what is.
[...] [I have to lie], bald-faced, to my friends, to family I care about, to the less open minded parts of W’s family… it sucks. I’d love to put W on my health insurance. I’d love to have it just be seen as something simple… and not seen as problematic that I want to go to the doctor with him or do banking things or have him pick up the kids.
The advantages are endless. The kids have more people who love them, we can tap out. W can be a stay at home parent with a 5 hour a week job and full time school… and still have 2 other incomes to rely upon. I don’t have to pay a nanny. I’m learning new things about sex, relationships and me. About H. W’s mom gets a daughter-in-law, I have a mother in law who likes me. The kids get extra grandparents, and M… who does stuff with them I never have time for. H and M have very compatible sex drives… I feel more cared for.
[...] If there’s a poly relationship that strikes me as abusive, I’ll make sure it’s the abuse I take issue with, not the nonmonogamy (and voice that specifically) and if it is something that just strikes me as uncomfortable,  I’ll say that, too (“this isn’t something I would do for X and Y reasons? But it seems to be working for them, and if it does or doesn’t,  that’s up to them to decide. They’re adults.”).
As to the arguments against it based on scurrilous accusations: H is as strong a man as I know, and I am a VERY strong and independent woman. We dated for years before we wed, and married as virgins, so I’m not about to be convinced we have no self control, and the two decades of monogamy are also evidence of that […].  Agreeing to treat your spouse like your friend and partner, to meet their needs and grow with them down a hard road? That’s not weakness… it can’t be.
[...] In relation to the paperwork: since you can claim as many minor children on your taxes (or adult disabled children or adult children in college or elderly disabled parents or…) the rules could be adjusted to allow for the claiming of more than one spouse. As long as, like with current rules, you aren’t a dependent on more than one person’s form, it shouldn’t upset the balance of the entire system. Insurance companies could work the same (although single payer takes care of that mess) by letting you pay to add an extra adult family member (spouse or parent or sibling).
[...] I, personally, hope my children grow up highly valuing sex and romantic relationships. I’ll be, personally, saddened if they take a widely casual view of sex, but that’s MY issue, and I own it.  I want them to be smart about who they choose to entangle their lives with, be protected (from disease, from pregnancy, from unnecessary heart-break, from hurting others, from dishonesty, from unclear communication, from abusive relationships, from financial problems due to any of the above, etc) and I want them to know that love is an important and, sometimes, destructive force that should be handled wisely… regardless of the number of partners they have.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

"​I Grew Up in a Polyamorous Household"

VICE has a really articulate piece on the experience of growing up in a polyamorous household. Testimonials like these put the lie to the argument that having multiple parents is inherently damaging to children.

Few cultural symbols have as much heft as the "traditional" nuclear family. You know the one: two heterosexual parents, two kids, one dog, two tablespoons of white picket fence, whisk gently. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that—it's just not how I was raised.
My parents are polyamorous, a Greek/Latin mishmash word meaning romantic non-monogamy with the consent of everyone involved. As a kid, I lived with my dad, my mum, my mum's partner, and for a while, my mum's partner's partner. Mum might have up to four partners at a time. Dad had partners too. I was raised by an interconnected network of grownups whose relationships which weren't exclusive, but remained committed for years, even decades.
They first explained it to me when I was about eight. My four-year-old brother asked why James, my mum's partner, had been spending so much time with us.
"Because I love him," mum said, matter-of-factly.
"Well, that's good," my brother replied, "because I love him too."
It was never really any more complicated than that. Looking back, that's what I find most extraordinary about our situation: how mind-numbingly ordinary it all was.
[...] I never resented my parents for hanging out with their partners. We all went on trips to the movies and narrow boat holidays together. Having more adults around the house meant there was more love and support, and more adults to look after us. Dad and James didn't get jealous or resent each other either, far from the alpha male antler clattering you might expect. They were good friends.
I do remember the first time James told me off. I was eight, and had almost toddled into traffic, when he pulled me to the pavement and shouted at me for not looking left and right. I remember thinking: Oh, this grownup is allowed to discipline me too? But it didn't take me long to realize that it also meant that another grownup had my back—and would keep me from being flattened by oncoming traffic—and that this was a good thing after all.
[...] Our church community, on the other hand, did find out about my parents' arrangement. We were very close to our parish at a local Anglo-Catholic church in East London—my mum even taught at Sunday school. [...] Most people tried to understand, but not everyone could. One family was so condemning of our parents' lifestyle that they forbade their kids from playing with us. This later escalated into a particularly nasty phone call to social services, essentially conflating polyamorous parenting with child abuse, and sending a swarm of social workers into our home. I remember sitting on the living room floor with my Robot Wars toys, Hypno-Disc in one hand, Sir Killalot in the other, trying to convince them that my parents weren't hurting me.
Nowadays, if I mention to people that I have poly parents, reactions oscillate between "that's so weird" and "that's so cool." Most people enjoy the novelty of it. Some feel threatened, but they're usually OK once I reassure them that it's not a criticism of their monogamy.
[...] I never envied my friends with monogamous parents. I knew kids who lived with two parents or one, or stepparents, or grandparents, or aunts and uncles. So what I had didn't feel odd. I'd imagine there's very little variation between the ways monogamous and poly parents fuck up their kids. Good parents are good parents, whether there are one or two or three or four of them. Fortunately, mine were incredible.
[...] A lot of people ask me whether having poly parents has shaped the way I look at love as an adult, which is hard to answer. Growing up with polyamory as the norm, monogamy seemed alien and counterintuitive. We can love more than one friend or family member at the same time, so the idea that romantic love only worked linearly was befuddling. I'm in my 20s now, and I tend to have multiple partners (though that's more my libido than a philosophical conviction). I don't consider myself poly, but I am open to having either multiple partners or just one.
Life is mostly pain and struggle; the rest is love and deep dish pizza. For the cosmic blink of a moment we spend on this tiny dust speck of a planet, can we simply accept that love is love, including love that happens to be interracial, same-sex, or poly? Discrimination against love is a disease of the heart—and we get enough of that from the pizza.

"How Prevalent Is Polyamory?"

Polyamory in the News has aggregated various findings about consensual non-monogamy in the United States, and come up with some estimates of the number of people practicing it.
Psychologist Geri D. Weitzman has a new paper out, "Therapy with Clients Who Are Bisexual and Polyamorous" (Journal of Bisexuality, Vol. 6, Issue 1-2), where she summarizes some of the little that's known:
Page (2004) found that 33% of her bisexual sample of 217 participants were involved in a polyamorous relationship, and 54% considered this type of relationship ideal. West (1996) reported that 20% of her lesbian respondents were polyamorous, while Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) found that 28% of the lesbian couples in their sample were. Blumstein and Schwartz found that 65% of the gay male couples in their study were polyamorous, and that 15-28% of their heterosexual couples had "an understanding that allows nonmonogamy under some circumstances" (p.312).
[...] The last item cited above — that 15% to 28% of American couples had an "understanding" to allow some nonmonogamy — implies that 18 to 35 million Americans live in such marriages or partnerships, based on U.S. Census data. But my guess is that many of those understandings are just some form of a DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell), a sickly and pathetic thing in my opinion. Polyamory is about sharing the magic — not sweeping it under the rug and pretending it's not there (say I).
So: how many conscious, self-identified polys are there?
Robyn Trask, editor/director of Loving More magazine, recently said on the Steve Douglas radio show, "In our national database that we have here at the magazine, we have 13,000 people, and that probably only represents a very small portion of the polyamorous community." She explains that that figure "is the number of people who have ordered, subscribed or requested information. It is the largest 'poly' database but it does not really give us any idea of the real numbers. Another thing to keep in mind is that many people are in couples, triads or quads but are listed as one customer."
[...] The publisher of The Ethical Slut, the most popular how-to guide for multipartnering, says in a January 2007 press release that "more than 75,000 copies [are] in print."
In Loving More issue #30 (Summer 2002), Adam Weber summarized a survey of poly people carried out via the magazine. "Over 1,000 people responded directly to the survey, and they talked about another 4,000," for a total sample of 5,000. From the fact that roughly one in 10 polys he knew or encountered at conferences were in the survey, he estimated that "the number of poly-identified people [is] around 50,000 in the U.S. I would estimate that only about 1 in 10 people who are actually poly have even heard the word 'poly,' bringing the estimate up to about a half million."

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"Growing Up Poor With Three Parents"

If "it takes a village", then isn't polyamory ideal? Yet people will attack it on the grounds that it's "bad for the children." When it comes to polyfidelity at least, this is not the case at all. Having multiple sources of support can contribute to upward mobility, as this man attests:
“Polyamory equals privilege.” It’s a sentiment I’m hearing more and more often. As the story goes, the average single working parent with a low-wage job has no time to go out on dinner dates, attend epic debaucherous parties, and engage in various leisure activities with their many lovers.
[...] This viewpoint seems to be gaining traction, maybe even reaching dominance, as nonmonogamy becomes more visible. It’s buoyed in no small part by media portrayals like Showtime’s intensely Caucasian Polyamory: Married and Dating, a veritable festival of hot tubs, champagne, and $300 yoga pants. Or the fact that, at least online, the poly community is mostly white and highly educated.
Is this how polyamory looks?
It’s easy to see why people might come to think of polyamory, at least in the form they see today, as the purview of “rich, pretty people with too much time on their hands.” However, this viewpoint fails to acknowledge the underprivileged nonmonogamists among us — it serves to alienate the disadvantaged, to discourage them from even trying it. This denies polyamory’s considerable economic, social, and structural benefits to those who need them the most.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Legality of Polyamory, by State

Someone posted some very useful information on Tumblr:
So I found the break down of how “legal” Poly relationships are per state. These are ordered from best states to worst.
Also this pertains to just poly in all forms, NOT to bigamy which is a felony in most states. Bigamy is the act of legally being married to more then one person either through common law marriage or forged paperwork. Poly is considered illegal in most states due to common law marriage.
First for those who haven’t heard thanks to the “Sister Wives” family. Polygamy is decriminalized in Utah. This doesn’t mean it is legal it just means they are not considering it a crime but you can still be charge with it.
Next these are the states where Poly is any form between consenting adults is more likely to be legalized. These states have no “common law marriages” so it gets rid of bigamy since there is no way to be married to more then one person unless you forge paperwork to. There are no laws in these states against adultery, co-habitation or fornication
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington
These states have laws against adultery but not against fornication, co-habitation and they also do not have common law marriage. But in these states adultery is only considered a crime if the spouse files charges.
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas (Texas does recognize common-law marriages, but apparently only if they are registered with the county clerk)
  • Vermont
In the following states adultery and fornication is a misdemeanor requiring a fine to be paid if you are found guilty  
  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire (New Hampshire recognizes common-law marriages, but only for inheritance purposes after death)
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
These states have laws against co-habitation between persons.
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
And finally these states have common law marriages and consider adultery a felony, meaning at any time if you are to be be found to be co-habiting or sleeping with someone who is not your spouse you could be jailed or fined.
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Washington D.C.
  • Wisconsin
All this information was found at
Maybe this can help a few people. Of course if you face any legal action never hesitate to contact a lawyer.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Being the child of a poly family in a mono world

A really important testimonial from Tumblr. The argument for the equality of all families is right here:
The question I get asked most often is, “You have, like, three parents? Well, which mom is your real mom?”. Most of the time I just laugh at their tiny brains and tell them, “They’re both my real moms.” Anyone raised in a polyamorous house will understand the struggle of existing in a non-polyamorous world. So here I am, constantly in fear that one day the wrong person will find out and everything will fall to pieces. At the moment the only people that know, are our family doctor, my riding instructor, Dax’s boyfriend, a handful of family acquaintances, and my three sets of grandparents. Out of my grandparents only two pairs (Mama’s and Dad’s) are speaking to us.
The reason I hate the “which mom is your real mom” question so much is because you’re basically saying that one of my parents isn’t really my parent. Which is such BULL! Just because Mum didn’t physically push me out of her does not mean in anyway that she is not my mother. She’s the one that helps with my math homework, cause Lord knows that Mama and Dad are completely useless at it. She’s the one we all go to for relationship advice. The thought of not having her is completely horrible. The same goes for my siblings. Dax and I are from Mama and Dad and Bray and Tobe are from Mum and Dad. I don’t think it ever occurred to us that one of our moms wasn’t our “real” mom.
For the most part we’re pretty quiet about our family. Were all blonde so no matter which parent we’re with, we’re pretty easy to pass off. The trouble comes when we’re out to dinner and the waiter asks where Mama’s husband is. It takes every ounce of self-control for me to not yell that he’s sitting two seats over, next to their wife. Of course I keep my mouth shut because unfortunately my family is taboo. Or unnatural. Or sacrilegious. Or going to emotionally scar my siblings and I. Whatever. I can tell you that we’re doing just fine. I can tell you that I’ve seen kids living in pretty shitty situations involving two hetero parents. So what that there are three adults in a monogamous relationship raising their four children? None of us are doing drugs. None of us are prostitutes. None of us have ever been abused. Why is it any of your business?
The one thing that I know is true above anything else is that my parents love me and they love each other. No matter what you say, my family is pretty special. And we’re doing just fine.

"Polyamory Stigma Lessens with Familiarity"

I think these findings about exposure are true of any issue. As hard as it is, coming out as polyamorous or consanguinamorous to even a few people can help move these issues forward in the public's mind.
Could you juggle multiple romantic relationships at one time — if each of your partners knew about the others? How about setting up your household as a triad, rather than a couple? And what do you think of people who do such things? Chances are, the more you know about the relationship style called polyamory, the more accepting you are of such setups, according to new research. The findings echo what psychologists know about how people respond to gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities: The greater the familiarity, the less severe the stigma.
"If people know even one gay person that they like in their life — a friend, a relative — their attitudes are much more favorable," said study researcher Traci Giuliano, a psychologist at Southwestern University in Texas. Likewise, the study found that "the more aware people were of polyamory, the more positive their attitudes were," Giuliano told Live Science.
[...] It's unclear how many people identify themselves as polyamorous, but a 2013 study in the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy estimated that between 4 percent and 5 percent of people in the United States are involved in some sort of consensually nonmonogamous relationship. What's clear is that polyamory is moving out of the underground, with shows like Showtime's "Polyamory: Married & Dating" bringing the lifestyle to a broader audience. However, polyamory remains stigmatized: A 2013 survey of nearly 4,000 polyamorous people found that 28.5 percent had personally experienced discrimination because of their relationship style.
Giuliano was interested in researching this stigma in part from personal experience. Though she is not polyamorous, Giuliano is in a relationship that can seem unfamiliar to some people. She is "not generally attracted to women," Giuliano said, but she fell in love with and is married to a woman. "This is just so confusing to people," she said. But once people get to know her, she added, they are generally accepting and tolerant.
She said she wondered if the same familiarity effect might benefit polyamorous people. For the study, she and her colleagues gave 100 people between ages 18 and 63 an online survey about their understanding and attitudes toward polyamory. The researchers found that 60 percent of the respondents knew what the term meant, and 30 percent personally knew someone who had been or was in a polyamorous relationship. People's perceptions of the polyamorous individuals were somewhat negative, however. Polyamorous people were seen as being particularly promiscuous, as having high sex drives and as participating in unsafe sex. (The latter is particularly untrue, Giuliano noted, as a basic tenant of polyamory is communication about sexual practices. A 2012 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that polyamorous people are actually better about protecting themselves against sexually transmitted infections than are nominally "monogamous" people who cheat on their partners.)
[...] Unsurprisingly, the people in the study who reported having more traditional and religious values were less accepting of polyamory, Giuliano said. The next step was to see if those attitudes would budge. In a second survey, the researchers recruited 196 people, 18 to 79 years old. A third of the participants read a brief definition of polyamory and then answered questions; another third got a longer, more in-depth description of polyamory. A final third saw a definition and then were encouraged to think about the pros and cons of monogamy in their own lives. The people in the group that read the in-depth definition as well as those in the thought-exercise group exhibited more positive attitudes toward polyamory afterward, the researchers reported. The results show that people's perceptions can change, Giuliano said. "There are things that we can do to improve people's attitudes," she said.
Lessening the stigma of polyamory is a good thing, Giuliano said. She said she'd next like to study how particular facets of polyamorous relationships lessen such stigma. Perhaps people are open to polyamory only up to a certain number of people in the relationship, or if it involves people of only certain sexual orientations, for example, she said. "These people are here," she said of those who practice polyamory. "They're not going anywhere, and they're going to suffer from prejudice and discrimination."
Monogamous individuals might also have something to learn from polyamorous people, Giuliano added, even if one partner seems like plenty: Polyamorous ideals demand that partners maintain open communication, negotiate their boundaries and are treated as equals. "All relationships can benefit from mutual trust, respect, and open and honest communication," Giuliano said.
The researchers reported their findings online Jan. 30 in the journal Psychology & Sexuality.