Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The mathematics of marriage

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  • Emma Hart,

    And yes, I do love being a dirty incrementalist.

    We so need a clubhouse and a secret handshake.

    Being someone who's in favour of both same-sex marriage and legalised polyamorous marriage, I've been thinking about this, and I think the root problem is the framing of the argument.

    Same-sex marriage opponents are not, generally, being asked to come up with reasons the Act shouldn't pass. The onus is being put on proponents to justify why it should. So "Because they love each other," rapidly becomes "Well why not aardvark marriage then?"

    If people like McCoskrie were being forced to articulate an argument in favour of discrimination - if the framing of the argument was "why discriminate" rather than "why change", there's no footing to start the Slippery Slope argument from.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4350 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    What Wall demonstrated when she compiled her mutually exclusive lists of the 11 countries that permit same-sex marriage and the 50 that recognise polygamous relationships is not that extending marriage rights to same sex-couples can’t lead to recognition of polygamous or polyamorous relationships, but that it thus far hasn’t.

    South Africa has some level of recognition of polygamous marriage (the President has four wives, for example), as well as recognising same-sex marriage.

    Wall's list has taken a particular definition of recognition of polygamous marriage that excludes some forms of such recognition. Of course, even in that country, recognition of same-sex marriage came much later.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Emma Hart,

    If people like McCoskrie were being forced to articulate an argument in favour of discrimination – if the framing of the argument was “why discriminate” rather than “why change”, there’s no footing to start the Slippery Slope argument from.

    McCoskrie doesn’t think it is discriminatory.

    I also don’t think he’d have any problem articulating a slippery slope argument from that basis.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    the President has four wives, for example

    Is that a constitutional requirement, or he just does?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4442 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    p.s. has anyone asked Louisa Wall *why* she opposes state recognition of polygamous relationships? I tried in a Facebook thread (where she had responded to my South Africa point), but didn't get a reply.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Is that a constitutional requirement, or he just does?

    He just does. It is a tribal custom of some sort.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Zuma’s also (very probably) a rapist, which helps point towards why polygamous marriage, as an institution often bound up in particularly unpleasant and patriarchal power systems, is a lot more problematic to legalise than same sex marriage. Not that (in my view) we shouldn’t be working towards more recognition, but that it’s a lot harder to construct a safe and equitable framework.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1327 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    South Africa has some level of recognition of polygamous marriage (the President has four wives, for example),

    Anyone know of (tribal?) traditions that allow a woman to have four husbands?

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1494 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    a slippery slop argument

    !!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3311 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Anyone know of (tribal?) traditions that allow a woman to have four husbands?

    Wikipedia lists some.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    !!

    Fixed!

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Well Mr McCoskrie tried that argument for civil unions too

    The Queer Avengers became his new favorite activist group when they mentioned polygamy mid last year

    (More recently someone looked at the links on Bob’s list of slippery evidences and wasn’t impressed)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1095 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    it’s a lot harder to construct a safe and equitable framework.

    Marriage doesn't have a lot of real world impact in terms of changing your legal rights in New Zealand, but one of the ways it does have an effect is in property division after divorce, which gets a bit fiddlier when you're talking about multiple relationship ties. If each party had an equal share in the relationship property, divorce could get a lot more costly for your average patriarch.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 810 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It's curious that "it's a slippery slope argument" isn't a knockdown rebuttal, considering it's an informal logical fallacy. Many seem to find them compelling, even more so after finding out that it's such an argument. Which is part of the reason I've always hated the term. Somehow, the imagery it conjures actually strengthens it - one doesn't care to take the first step down an actual slippery slope. To make it clear that a particular slippery slope argument is bad, you have to say "but it's not really a slippery slope at all", which is confusing as hell, indeed it makes you appear to contradict yourself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8441 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    If people like McCoskrie were being forced to articulate an argument in favour of discrimination

    That would be good. Public morality is undermined by his lack of integrity far more than by anything he opposes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16605 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lyndon Hood,

    (More recently someone looked at the links on Bob’s list of slippery evidences and wasn’t impressed)

    I shouldn't be surprised -- in my opinion, McCoskrie is not a very honest man -- but wow: Family First thoroughly and grievously misinterpreted their evidence there, didn't they? Rather puts Graeme's (quite proper) critique of Wall's research in context.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18815 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I'm always interested that whenever the subject of polygamy pops up, there are plenty of supporters of the concept, but I've never heard from a polyamorous trio who'd love to be legally married (or civil unioned). I'm sure such people exist, but why are they silent?

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1855 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to B Jones,

    Marriage ... property division after divorce, which gets a bit fiddlier when you're talking about multiple relationship ties.

    You mean like when blended marriages break up? We already deal with that. It's not unusual to see three or more adults in family courts discussing freely and frankly how they think their various children and assorted properties should be divided. Adding another way to get into that situation doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

    Poly marriage would make all the usual things easier. Children, titles, insurance, medical care, fights with families-of-origin.

    The poly people I know who want to get married almost invariably have children and are sick to goddamn death of the bullshit hoops they have to jump through every time they bring the "wrong" child to something. Because, for example, a child may have at most two "parent or guardian" in law, which means that when you have shared parenting it's possible to have disjunct sets of parents for your children. Viz, it's not possible for a single adult go along as the "parent or guardian" of all the children.

    I hear more about this stuff in BDSM groups because the risks to kids there are even more stark. At poly groups it's more common to see random family groups with kids just living, and there seems to be more discussion of naming than anything else (coz when you have two bioparents, a step-parent or two and the various non-resident polycule members it's useful if you have category names for everyone). Or maybe I just hang out with weird poly people..

    For me personally it doesn't seem likely to be an issue. I'm not married to the woman I live with, let alone anyone else.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 463 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Lyndon Hood,

    Well Mr McCoskrie tried that argument for civil unions too

    He seems to have been right about the slippery slope of civil unions leading to same-sex marriage, however.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Was there anyone that seriously thought civil unions were anything but a nose-under-the-tent for marriage equality?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1327 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    I've never heard from a polyamorous trio who'd love to be legally married ... why are they silent?

    Most of them out of respect. There are many and vigorous voices in the queer marriage movement who want very much not to talk about polyamory.

    So to be heard, they first have to fight there way through a bunch of mostly monosexual, wanna-be spouses who are in the middle of a shitfight and are generally in no mood to take prisoners. Like Russel, a lot of them are incrementalists. Take this step, then find a core of marriage-equality proponents who are not strict monogamists to keep the battle rolling.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 463 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Was there anyone that seriously thought civil unions were anything but a nose-under-the-tent for marriage equality?

    Gay-and-lesbian marriage is not marriage equality, and it's kind of annoying to see someone equate the two in a discussion of poly marriage.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 463 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Was there anyone that seriously thought civil unions were anything but a nose-under-the-tent for marriage equality?

    Perhaps not, but there were a bunch of people denying that it was.

    At the first reading of the Civil Union Bill, Metiria Turei said:

    “Marriage as understood in our society, and as formalised in law, is a specific culturally and historically bound institution...

    And David Benson-Pope said:

    Through the Civil Union Bill, the Government … is also confirming that in New Zealand marriage remains solely available to a man and a woman. Marriage will continue to be covered by a separate Act and recognised as a separate institution. … The social, religious, and traditional values associated with marriage will remain”

    Cribbed from Bob McCoskrie's helpful list. He also has quotes from several others (Helen Clark, Tim Barnett, Chris Carter) pointing out why Civil Unions are all that is needed, or why marriage is specially for heterosexual couples etc.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Moz,

    Gay-and-lesbian marriage is not marriage equality, and it’s kind of annoying to see someone equate the two in a discussion of poly marriage.

    What is marriage equality?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2999 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    Poly marriage would make all the usual things easier. Children, titles, insurance, medical care, fights with families-of-origin.

    Yes. That seems evident and highly material to me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18815 posts Report Reply

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