Slate Journal 13 June 2013
Richard, Vicki, Jim, and Maria are polyamorists: people who engage in what has been described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.” Unlike polygyny, where one man is married to multiple women, most polyamorists aren’t motived by religion. Instead, they describe their relationships in language that should be familiar to anyone: It’s just what feels healthy, happy, and natural for them.
And despite the stereotype of polyamorists as sexual anarchists who wouldn’t be interested in legal marriage anyway, Robyn Trask, the executive director of polyamory support organization Loving More, said the group’s forthcoming survey found that 65 percent of poly families would choose to legalize their unions if they could, and an additional 20 percent would at least consider the option if it were available.
….In either a public or private marital system, extending marriage access to plural families would obviously be very complicated. Why should we even care? Polyamorists are a minority, and they, unlike same-sex couples, arguably choose their lifestyle. It’s easy to ignore or marginalize them. But their families raise fundamental questions about how our government interacts with our sexual and romantic lives. Is marital status the best standard by which to determine access to government benefits, or could we find a better way through marriage privatization? If not, should we wrestle with the implications of government marriage until we find a public solution that is fair to everyone? Whatever the answer, conversations about widespread marriage equality are worth the legal, emotional, and intellectual work it takes to have them.
“Our lifestyle isn’t for everybody, but this is what works for us,” said Vicki. “We consider ourselves married. We consider ourselves a family. Sometimes love catches you by surprise. Why do we want to put boundaries around that?”