This is a splinter thread from the SCOTUS thread for discussing various aspects, both social and legal, about polyamorous/polygamous (not necessarily the same thing here) marriages. Discussion bounced around a fair amount before settling into the following quote tree:
Polygamy should be illegal because it causes harm and because multi person legal unions break the intent and structure of unifying assets and simplifying legal agency and inheritance and so forth. Marriage is a set of benefits which do not function beyond 2 people
Causes harm in some cases.
Currently doesn't function beyond 2 people.
These are not unsolvable problems.
I would like polyamory to become more mainsteam acceptable though. I feel that would be a nice first step.
stick with me here...
the marriage became a corporation
This has been happening quietly for years now. I know of several poly groups that incorporated as LLCs (I think, I know they formed some manner of corporation) in order to handle communal property. Custody of children in those cases was spelled out in writing well in advance, provisions for property in case of death, etc, etc, etc. Basically they formed contracts to handle the property, much like marriage does for a couple. They were heavily tailored to the individuals involved. The legalities for this stuff can already be done, it just isn't legally called marriage.
this whole fiasco had better not be over the ownership of a single word
There is almost nothing unique about marriage that you can't accomplish with other legal means, in terms of property. In terms of social acceptance, that word has huge power. Look at the difference between civil unions and gay
marriage. People want their unions to be recognized by society, not just the legal rights that go along with the term.
Personally, even speaking as a polyamorous person, I am super leary of how you would do poly marriage as a universal, anyone can get it done easily and cheaply, right. Mostly due to the historic abuses done by polygamous societies in the past. "Big man" groups are super super gross to me, and while I can't speak for all poly folk, those I have talked to hate the idea of those kind of controlling, coercive relationships. If poly people ever wanted to push for marriage rights, we have a long, LONG way to go to convince the world that we are talking about consenting, unpressured relationships between adults, and aren't hidden patriarchs trying to ensure a supply of young women for personal supply.
I'm pro gay marriage (so good on you guys for getting that), but I'm against polyamory.
If the ratio of majority male poly-marriages to majority female poly-marriages was equal, then it would be OK. But all evidence I've seen indicates the vast majority are two (or more) wives for one husband.
If this type of marriage is widespread, that leaves a vast underclass of low-status un-marriagable men who have no wives/girlfriends and no (or very limited) prospects of getting one.
I can't see that ending well.
This problem can solve itself via changing social norms (so that two wives/one husband marriages are as common as one wife/two husbands marriages), but until such happens (if it ever does), I'm not comfortable with the societal implications.
The full spectrum of poly arrangements are beyond the scope of this thread, but I have never seen a harem style arrangement in reality, only ever heard of them from old Mormon days. The most common arrangement I have seen/been a part of is a couple (A & B), usually where one or both partner is dating, either casually or long term (person C). Person C may also be a part of a primary relationship, which may have offshoots as well.
The Big Man (Tm) is a boogeyman that gets brought out a lot, but in the poly dating world, something predicated on the idea of options, the idea of being stuck with one person against your will is mostly a non starter. Where I am leery of poly marriage is within conservative religious groups, where that kind of social control is much easier to enforce, and I am hesitant to hand more tools of legal control to those kinds of folk.
The current legal landscape: Poly marriage of all stripes is illegal, and carries a hard stigma against itself, even from many in progressive communities. This stigma seems well earned, what with abuses from some Mormon polygamous communities still shining bright in the public consciousness (as well it should, coercive relationships are a Bad Thing). Contrast that with the current polyamorous ideal (enshired in books such as The Ethical Slut), ones that function heavily on feminist ideals of consent, non-ownership of partners, and the free will and expression from all partners. Those groups don't always live up to those ideals, as people can and do get jealous, petty and childish, problems that plague all relationships, regardless of number of people involved.
The current social landscape: Highly variable, but mostly stigmatized. There are poly people all over the place, some are out but most people I have met and talked to online are generally doing their own thing quietly, both legally and socially. This is not a highly homogeneous group, relationship models (who is dating/married to who, who has say over which parts of a relationship, etc, etc) vary wildly. One thing that came up multiple times in the SCOTUS threads is the idea that men are the main drivers of this, hoarding partners to themselves (The harem model). My experience (so anecdotal, please share data if you have it) is that harems rarely exist, and the few groups that come close had a central woman at the core.
Which leads to new material from you, loyal readers. What do you think? Should marriage be expanded further? If so, in what ways? How will those ways interact with current property laws, and can/should those laws be changed? As I have tried to indicate in the last thread, I am very uncertain of how, or if, the idea of legal multi-party marriages would work at all.
I like children. Provided they go home with their parents at the end of the day.