Opening Marriage

Cathy Young seemed to imply, in "Opening Marriage" (March), that polygamy, one person having multiple spouses, is the same as polyamory. In polyamorous relationships and families, various arrangements of consenting adult men and women choose to love and support each other emotionally, spiritually, physically, and often financially.

Commitment levels may vary, but love and personal freedom are prevailing factors.

Young approvingly quotes David Boaz's suggestion that polyamorists wait to get legal marital recognition until "all special laws related to marriage [cease] to exist." A group marriage would be considered too upsetting to the "social order and the raising of children." Not too long ago, however, homosexuals were considered an unfit family unit. If bisexuals can't even decide which sex to sleep with, how are we supposed to choose whether to marry one or the other? Swinging, cheating, and casual sex or dating are not options for those of us who want loving, meaningful relationships.

Young then worries that the "mere possibility of [adding multiple partners] could cause enough anxiety to destabilize a marriage." If true choice were an option, socially or legally, more people might experience...well, more people! Of course that would be destabilizing to marriage, as it is currently defined as a union between two people. No more. Ever. Unless, of course, you cheat or get divorced, which are the currently popular, far more "destabilizing" ways to experience multiple partners.

Why should the possibility of expanding a marriage leave a spouse any more anxious than the possibility of divorce? "Serial monogamy" and cheating are proof that human beings enjoy being with more than one mate in life. Polyamorists strive to act on their desires in open, honest, loving manners. Jealousy and temptation are always realities; prohibiting the true opening of marriage will not make them go away.

Jen Rog
New Paltz, NY

Cathy Young's columns are always a joy to read. Her article "Opening Marriage" highlights the quicksand of legal conundrums that could make court rulings about gay marriage a nightmare. The potential for court-ordered polygamy is one example, but only one: If the courts find a "constitutional" right for two men to marry, then under what conceivable legal standard could two brothers be barred from marrying each other? There would, of course, be none of the health concerns normally related to incest. 

Regarding marriage law, libertarians need to stick with what they truly believe in: limited judicial power. The time for legalizing gay marriage, or any other social concern not explicitly endorsed by the Constitution, is when a majority of the people vote to do so -- not when a few judges make the decision on their own.

Hyperion Knight
Forest Hills, NY

One can see why gay and lesbian advocates are quick to deny that gay marriage is the "slippery slope" that will lead inevitably to (gasp) polygamy and worse. It is an argument, as Cathy Young and others point out, that merits consideration. But I wonder: So what if it is a slippery slope? So what if gay marriage does lead to polygamy? Plural marriage has, so far as anyone can tell, existed as long as human civilization. It has fallen out of favor in the West in recent centuries (with the exception of the Mormons and a few other groups), but is it really such a terrible thing?

I suspect that most people's objections rest on images of female harems kept at knifepoint. But as long as the relationship is entered into voluntarily, I see little reason to deny men or women multiple wives or husbands. The objection that Young raises -- that she suspects it would lead to "psychological abuse" -- smells to me a great deal like the sort of feminism that has given to us absurdist laws and regulations governing sexual harassment in the workplace and on college campuses.

David C. Pearson
via e-mail

Confessions of a Welfare Queen

I was enjoying the article "Confessions of a Welfare Queen" until I stumbled on this bit of liberal-bashing, thrown in for no apparent reason except to break up the monotony of right-wing treachery: "'Every summer,' said Gore, who grew up in a fancy Washington hotel, 'we went back down to the farm. I was in the 4-H club.'"

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