September 14, 2002


ADAM & EVE & FRIENDS: Rod Dreher passes along a solicitation for papers from the The Journal of Bisexuality (presumably a scholarly version of the alt-bookstore favorite Anything That Moves). It's quite funny, especially since, among other things, they're soliciting connections between polyamory and "vegetarianism, veganism" and "ecology." What the hell does not eating dairy have to do with sex with multiple partners, you may ask? My guess is it has something to do with undermining the "patriarchy." Do postmodernist leftists even enjoy sex, or are do they just "construct" relationships for ideological reasons?

Laughing at academic pretentions can be loads of fun. Leave it to Stanley Kurtz to insist that this is in fact "serious," because it illustrates the evil of gay marriage and the slippery slope to (gasp!) group marriage.

It's not even true that arguments for gay marriage must apply to polyamorous marriage (I have no particular problem with either, but Andrew Sullivan, for example, favors only the former). Moreover, polyamorous groups will never be as widespread as even the relatively small gay subculture. It's hard enough to get two people to stick to the terms of a relationship, imagine what it must be like with three or four. A few (very few) might be able to handle it, but the relationships had better be built on mutual respect, understanding, and desire; some Michel Foucault books and extreme dogmatism won't cut it.

I don't think gay couples or polyamorous groups should be getting marriage bonuses in the tax code or anything like that, but I feel the same way about straight couples. The family units people choose to build (about as private as any aspect of life) are seen by social conservatives like Kurtz as legitimate targets of regulation, presumably because of some collective interest in traditionalism. Somehow, I don't think that people will abandon their traditional marriage in droves no matter what gays and bisexuals are doing; indeed, the case that Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch have made that gays would likely become more domesticated and less promiscuous with the option of marriage is quite strong.

Moreover, problems with families, whatever their composition, are matters for the family, and very rarely have a place in the realm of public policy. There's nothing wrong with starting a church (or a scholarly journal on a sexual orientation) to proselytize your ideas of what a family should look like. There's a big problem with asking governments to forcefully impose your ideas on people with no interest in them.

Posted by John Tabin at September 14, 2002 10:27 AM