The evidence that polygamy and polyamory will be next…

You don’t have to be a rocket-science to see what’s on the horizon. But just in case you can’t…

One Parent or Five

Two government studies released by Canada’s justice department in 2006 recommended the decriminalization of polygamy, with one arguing that the move was justified by the need to attract more skilled Muslim immigrants.
Canada: End polygamy ban, report urges Ottawa
17/01/2006: A new study for the federal Justice Department says Canada should get rid of its law banning polygamy and change other legislation to help women and children living in such multiple-spouse relationships. “Criminalization does not address the harms associated with valid foreign polygamous marriages and plural unions, in particular the harms to women,” says the report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. The research paper is part of a controversial $150,000 polygamy project, launched a year ago and paid for by the Justice Department and Status of Women Canada. The paper by three law professors at Queen’s University in Kingston argues that Section 293 of the Criminal Code banning polygamy serves no useful purpose and in any case is rarely prosecuted.

A major report issued in 2001 by the Law Commission of Canada, Beyond Conjugality:Recognizing and Supporting Close Personal Relationships, viewed marriage as a “close personal relationship” and asked whether such relationships should be “limited to two people.”Its conclusion: probably not. Although the authors of “Beyond Conjugality” are politic enough to relegate the point to footnotes, they state that they see no reason, in principle, to limit registered partnerships to two people.

Note: The courts in Canada have so far rejected attempts to decriminalise polygamy. However, as we know in NZ from the Quilter v Attorney-General case, court decisions will be challenged, and can easily be overturned by legislation, as will happen if the gay marriage bill passes in NZ.

A July 2009 Newsweek story entitled “Polyamory: the next sexual revolution
estimates that there are more than half a million “open polyamorous families” living in America.

It’s enough to make any monogamist’s head spin. But the traditionalists had better get used to it. Researchers are just beginniung to study the phenomenon, but the few who do estimate that openly polyamorous families in the United States number more than half a million, with thriving continents in nearly every major city.

In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300 “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates— including prominent Ivy League professors—call for legal recognition of sexual relationships involving more than two partners.
Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision For All Our Families & Relationships, (July 26, 2006),

In 1972 the National Coalition of Gay Organizations in the US demanded the “repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex or number of persons entering into a marriage unit;”
National Coalition of Gay Organizations, “The 1972 Gay Rights Platform,” Chicago, 1972


Ministry of Women’s Affairs, The New Zealand Jurisdictional Report — Work and Family Balance: A policy perspective, March 2002

New Zealand legislation gives a mixed message about what State counts as family. For example… only the male and one wife from a polygamous family are allowed to immigrate to New Zealand. There is an increasing recognition of the need to avoid enshrining in legislation concepts of family which are exclusive.”

Ruth Dyson – Speech to Victoria University first year Social and Public Policy students 6 May 2008 (subsequently pulled after media exposure)

“Shifting the focus from social welfare to social development is about considering the wellbeing of the whole population, and communities within that population, rather than solely focusing on the traditional family group. We must cater for the diversity, we know exists. By this I mean the range of relationships from single, couples, triples, blended, de facto, and so on. That’s where we’re going with social policy.


Wellington-based activist group The Queer Avengers is calling for a struggle “beyond marriage”, saying while it supports marriage equality, it’s not the end of the line for GLBT rights. While the group supports Louisa Wall’s Bill to introduce marriage equality, it says the community still faces a number of obstacles. Member Sara Fraser says these include bullying, suicide and homelessness among GLBT youth, inadequate access to quality healthcare for trans people and common intimidation and violence in the streets. She adds that there are many family structures which marriage and adoption law does not cover, for example polyamory and whangai adoption. “This is not the final struggle,” Fraser says. “We’re looking ahead to the struggles beyond marriage.”


Promoting polygamy
When Tom Green was put on trial in Utah for polygamy in 2001, it played like a dress rehearsal for the coming movement to legalize polygamy. True, Green was convicted for violating what he called Utah’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on polygamy. Pointedly refusing to “hide in the closet,” he touted polygamy on the Sally Jessy Raphael, Queen Latifah, Geraldo Rivera, and Jerry Springer shows, and on “Dateline NBC” and “48 Hours.” But the Green trial was not just a cable spectacle. It brought out a surprising number of mainstream defenses of polygamy. And most of the defenders went to bat for polygamy by drawing direct comparisons to gay marriage.

Writing in the Village Voice, gay leftist Richard Goldstein equated the drive for state-sanctioned polygamy with the movement for gay marriage. The political reluctance of gays to embrace polygamists was understandable, said Goldstein, “but our fates are entwined in fundamental ways.” Libertarian Jacob Sullum defended polygamy, along with all other consensual domestic arrangements, in the Washington Times. Syndicated liberal columnist Ellen Goodman took up the cause of polygamy with a direct comparison to gay marriage. Steve Chapman, a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board, defended polygamy in the Tribune and in Slate. The New York Times published a Week in Review article juxtaposing photos of Tom Green’s family with sociobiological arguments about the naturalness of polygamy and promiscuity.

The ACLU’s Matt Coles may have derided the idea of a slippery slope from gay marriage to polygamy, but the ACLU itself stepped in to help Tom Green during his trial and declared its support for the repeal of all “laws prohibiting or penalizing the practice of plural marriage.” There is of course a difference between repealing such laws and formal state recognition of polygamous marriages. Neither the ACLU nor, say, Ellen Goodman has directly advocated formal state recognition. Yet they give us no reason to suppose that, when the time is ripe, they will not do so. Stephen Clark, the legal director of the Utah ACLU, has said, “Talking to Utah’s polygamists is like talking to gays and lesbians who really want the right to live their lives.”

All this was in 2001, well before the prospect that legal gay marriage might create the cultural conditions for state-sanctioned polygamy. Can anyone doubt that greater public support will be forthcoming once gay marriage has become a reality? Surely the ACLU will lead the charge.


School posters produced as part of the Toronto District School Board’s “Safe and Positive Spaces” campaign have raised the ire of critics who point out that, besides the expected promotion of homosexuality as normal, one of the posters appears to promote polygamy. The poster titled “Love has no gender” depicts washroom-sign-style stick men and stick women inside colorful hearts. Along with hearts that contain 2 stick men or 2 stick women, one heart has one man and 2 women while another has one woman and 2 men.


Herald Sun (Australia) September 03, 2008
Love triangles could get legal recognition as part of a push to give de facto partners access to the Family Court. The aim of the Rudd Government’s Bill is to give de facto couples — heterosexual and same-sex — greater rights in property disputes. But critics fear it could leave innocent spouses facing financial ruin if a partner’s lover makes a property claim. The Bill asserts that a de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship. The Federal Opposition said the Bill would give a green light to polygamy. “There’ll be no Big Love under our watch,” Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said, referring to the US TV series on SBS about a man and his three wives. Another critic, Victorian Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, said the Bill had serious flaws. “Not only is the Labor Party legalising polygamy, but it’s changing the law so that the third person in an extramarital relationship can effectively claim the assets of a marriage or of the long-term de facto relationship,” she said.,21985,24285129-662,00.html

EXAMPLE 12 – U.S.A.:
Newsweek / NZ Herald March 18 2006

Polygamists, Unite!
Hammon, who’s involved in a polygamous relationship, is a founding member of the Centennial Park Action Committee, a group that lobbies for decriminalization of the practice. She’s among a new wave of polygamy activists emerging in the wake of the gay-marriage movement–just as a federal lawsuit challenging anti-polygamy laws makes its way through the courts and a new show about polygamy debuts on HBO. “Polygamy rights is the next civil-rights battle,” says Mark Henkel, who, as founder of the Christian evangelical polygamy organization, is at the forefront of the movement. His argument: if Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy. Henkel and Hammon have been joined by other activist groups like Principle Voices, a Utah-based group run by wives from polygamous marriages. Activists point to Canada, where, in January, a report commissioned by the Justice Department recommended decriminalizing polygamy.

EXAMPLE 13 – U.K.:

Multiple wives means multiple benefits
Telegraph (UK) 04 February 2008
Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal. Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by ministers means that polygamous marriages can now be recognised formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal.


BBC News 28 Aug 2012
A notary in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has sparked controversy by accepting a civil union between three people. Public Notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues has said the man and two women should be entitled to family rights. She says there is nothing in law to prevent such an arrangement. But the move has angered some religious groups, while one lawyer described it as “absurd and totally illegal”. The three individuals, who have declined to speak to the press, have lived in Rio de Janeiro together for three years and share bills and other expenses. Ms Domingues says they have already opened a joint bank account, which is also not prohibited by any law.


My life ‘married’ to twin sisters
The West (Australia) 29 May 2012
A Perth man living in a polyamorous relationship with identical twin sisters has spoken about the ups and downs of being ‘the meat in the sandwich’. Marc Glasby was married and faithful to his wife of 30 years, Belle; but then her long lost twin sister arrived on the scene and things got complicated. Mr Glasby says he quickly fell in love with Dorothy when she and her sister were reunited three years ago, and they now live in a happy, healthy polyamorous relationship.

….Polygamy is illegal in Australia, but there are no laws stopping consenting adults from living together in a relationship. Polyamory is an accepted part of many cultures in Australia, including parts of the Aboriginal and Muslim communities. ….Mr Glasby believes polygamy poses no threat to Australian society, and would simply legally recognise something which already exists here informally.


First Trio “Married” in The Netherlands
In the Netherlands polygamy has been legalised in all but name. Last Friday the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both Bianca (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union.

Dutch Minister Not to Prevent Polygamy
Brussels Journal Nov 2006
The Dutch authorities are not going to annul the so-called samenlevingscontract or “cohabitation contract,” a civil union registered before a notary, which a man recently concluded with two women whom he now considers to both be his wives. Piet-Hein Donner, the Dutch minister of Justice, responded in the negative to a request of the Dutch parliamentarian Cees Van der Staaij to annul the “trio marriage.” Van der Staaij is a member of the smallest party elected in the January 2003 general elections, the Calvinist SGP, holding two of the 150 seats in parliament. Homosexual couples are legally allowed to marry in the Netherlands, but those in polygamous relationships must find other ways of formalizing their cohabitation. Donner, a member of the largest Dutch party, the Christian-Democrat CDA (44 seats), said that such samenlevingscontracten are not illegal because the polygamy prohibition only applies to people that are formally married.

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