Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Sex with Parrots

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  • Martin Roberts, in reply to James Butler,

    Civil relationship law should be a generic framework for recognising relationships

    Amen (so be it)!

    I do feel that this relates to the same-sex marriage debate, insomuch as various proposed scopes of marriage form a subset of such relationships. This has pushed me to advocate the disestablishment of marriage, with a view to gradual expansion of civil unions, but it seems that others feel marriage itself is an important political target. I'm still chewing over that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James Butler,

    Civil relationship law should be a generic framework for recognising relationships

    +1

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15753 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    What, nobody has included this yet?

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Emma Hart,

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to chris,

    For your consideration:

    Every one of those articles focuses on traditional, patriarchal polygyny. There's very little in them that's actually relevant to modern Western polyamory. We're not actually talking about having a society where most people are in polygynous relationships, but one where existing polyamorous relationships are allowed legal recognition. And - entirely erased from those articles - some of those polyamorous relationships will be same-sex.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Thanks for your thoughts. definitely agreeing in principal with your proposal Emma. My only concern is that with the diversity of possible combinations and preferences, both enactment and annulment would turn into a lawyer’s wet-dream, but given the current lack of coherent policy, that’s already the case. So yeah, why not...

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I'm pretty sure polygamous marriages are already recognised to a limited degree in NZ due to mutual recognition treaties with polygamous-marriage countries. The advice I recall from Immigration ~20 years ago was "do not, under any circumstances, get divorced in this country". The first wife gets 50%, the second wife gets 50%, the third wife gets 50% and you get the legal bills (because the people who wrote the law used terms like "half" and "50%" rather than "equal shares").

    More practically, we already have rather a lot of law dealing with both marriage on the one hand and partnerships involving more than two people on the other. Even marriage law deals with multiple parties in many cases, as with adoption, custody involving re-partnered ex-partners and so on. It's not rocket science, and it's not a whole new thing heretofore unseen.

    On that note, many communes find it useful for members to marry purely because of the legalities, even when they're not in exclusive (or even sexual) relationships. Which also complicates things, but not as much as losing things because nasty outsiders get upset. Children, especially.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Sorting out the children could in some ways be easier than sorting out the property, since courts theoretically rule in the best interests of the child, whereas property doesn't really care who it belongs to.

    Another challenge for people: is there any reason why incest laws should still be in place? The most common reason I've heard people give against it (apart from "ew"!, which isn't really a reason. Lots of people say "ew" about same-sex marriage too) is the potential for birth defects. That argument doesn't really fly because a) birth defects tend to only appear after a few generations of inter-breeding; and b) it's again assuming that the purpose of marriage is reproduction.

    I mean sure, it doesn't really affect many people - the blood relatives I've heard of shacking up together have all included an adoptee - but that's not really the point, is it?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 227 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Thank christ I'm old. I have spent my whole life worrying about one partner. More would just ...well...worry me more.

    The Judd:

    we have some top people working on solutionsIn the interests of balance, shouldn't you have some bottom people too?

    Charmed I'm sure.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1459 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    What goes around...

    Piratical and poly-armed...

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Every one of those articles focuses on traditional, patriarchal polygyny. There's very little in them that's actually relevant to modern Western polyamory. We're not actually talking about having a society where most people are in polygynous relationships, but one where existing polyamorous relationships are allowed legal recognition. And - entirely erased from those articles - some of those polyamorous relationships will be same-sex.

    Yeah, that's basically my concern about difficulty: every legal model we have operates in terms of unequal, patriarchal polygyny, which is pretty much useless when developing a legal framework for dealing with multi-person relationships in general. It isn't that you couldn't do it right now, it's a matter of how many tears before bedtime you're willing to deal with while setting all the legal precedents. The best way, I think, would actually be to tear up current marriage and relationship law and reframe it with a two-person relationship being one of the options, but that's something of an enterprise to even get people thinking about.

    The most common reason I've heard people give against it (apart from "ew"!, which isn't really a reason. Lots of people say "ew" about same-sex marriage too) is the potential for birth defects.

    That's certainly a concern where close-relative marriage is repeated over many generations, though it's a wash in a once-off situation. I think the main reason incest is problematic aside from "ew" and "mutant babies!" is a) most incest will include abuse/power disparity, when it's between generations and b) it puts a lot of pressure on family relationships by introducing a romantic/sexual component that isn't usually there.

    Not to mention, of course, that as I understand it it's pretty well psychologically impossible for people who have grown up in a family situation to develop attraction unless other stuff is going on - it was historically, I believe, even a problem for children who were chosen for arranged marriages young and raised in households with their future spouses. That means that there's pretty limited opportunity for consensual, healthy relationships in there - basically only people who have met as adults or teenagers (e.g. adoptees/step-relatives.) And when that scope is so limited, people are going to default to thinking about the most common forms of incest - the abusive and problematic ones.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    the way polyamory seems to have been lumped together with bestiality and paedophilia as 'the worst things we could think of to smear same-sex marriage with".

    Of course, because all of the above isn't even an honestly dishonest well-oiled playground slide of an argument as far as I can see. It's just code for "damn fags will fuck everything all at once give half the chance, and they want us normal people to accept it". M'kay...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11621 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Not to mention, of course, that as I understand it it's pretty well psychologically impossible for people who have grown up in a family situation to develop attraction unless other stuff is going on - it was historically, I believe, even a problem for children who were chosen for arranged marriages young and raised in households with their future spouses.

    Well, I've always thought that was an interesting question. There was a long debate in anthropology about the incest taboo, and laws against incestuous relationships. On one side of the debate was the argument that it was psychologically impossible to be attracted to immediate family members; on the other side was the argument that if it was impossible, you wouldn't need a law against it.
    Then there's there's the whole historical and cultural variation in what's actually considered incest. We've ended up with a pretty short list of prohibited marriages (your or your spouse's parents or grandparents, children,grandchildren, nieces, or nephews), but it's still got historical components to it. Why not be allowed to marry your wife's mother, for example? There's no blood relationship, so the mutant babies thing doesn't apply; and mostly you won't have met her much before you met your wife, so the abuse thing is unlikely to apply either. It's not even spectacularly ew - compared to, for example, marrying your cousin, which isn't on the list, but which a lot of people would consider at least a little bit icky.
    As for the argument that most incest will include abuse/power disparity when it's between generations, I'm not sure that's a good enough reason to disallow marriage. There are plenty of non-incestual relationships involving abuse and power disparity, and they're all allowed to marry.
    I'm not saying that I'm personally ready to see the list of forbidden marriages done away with altogether. But it could do with a revisit, and could perhaps allow for exceptions, perhaps via judicial order.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 227 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    b) it puts a lot of pressure on family relationships by introducing a romantic/sexual component that isn't usually there.

    Perhaps this conflation of romantic and sexual is in part a conditioned response to incest's taboo status. A romantic expectation seems to put a lot of pressure on the sexual component and vice versa.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Glaister,

    I've got what I take to be a sound argument against extending marriage to poly-arrangements, one that applies gender-neutrally and even when all background liberal democratic norms of consensualness and non-coerciveness are satisfied. It's complicated tho'. If that sounds interesting to you, and you're up for long reads go here.

    Since Nov 2006 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    Re incest, I read recently about a High Court decision approving an application for a couple to marry who had previously been father and daughter-in-law (falls within list of prohibited marriages). The Court had required them to satisfy it that their conduct had not caused the end of each other's previous marriages!

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Stephen Glaister,

    I've got what I take to be a sound argument against extending marriage to poly-arrangements, one that applies gender-neutrally and even when all background liberal democratic norms of consensualness and non-coerciveness are satisfied. It's complicated tho'. If that sounds interesting to you, and you're up for long reads go here.

    I would read your paper, but "Issuu" wants to take up my whole screen, which is unhelpful when I'm at work. Is there another format available?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Stephen Glaister,

    All I see is three flash applications. If it's not text, I'm not reading it. Perhaps you could post it in an accessible format somewhere?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Eliminating polygamy was "redefining marriage", and we know how fervently you're opposed to that.

    lolololol

    And wasn't it nice to have the Herald take their first foray into discussing polyamorous relationships with that lovely article about the guy and the female twins? No, no slippery slope-ism there.

    Anyway, abolish marriage, civil unions only for all at the registry office. Like in France and Germany (I think). If you want to have a church (or other) ceremony, that's nice, but it should have no civil/legal relevance.

    Also, I think that the whole powers of attorney/family contracts/trustees thing should be overhauled and made much cheaper and streamlined for adult individuals. I might want to have one person as guardian of my child and another to be tenant-in-common of my house and other to have my power of attorney for health issues. If you want the all-in-one jobbie, sure, that can be your "civil union". But with no reference to the amount of people you enter into these various contracts with. At the moment, if you do it yourself, you need to get lawyers to draw it up for the associated megabux.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 415 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    I'm a bit allergic to the word "polygamy", it must be said. Most people are not thinking of the more technical usage of it being about multiple marriage, but instead have visions of Old Testament patriarchs (or those who aspire to be them) and their harems.

    Too much sexist baggage there for my taste. But then again, I am evidently allergic to the "marriage" word and all THAT baggage, so if it becomes more known and acceptable in the context of different gender configurations and equality, I might get over it. Polyamory works just fine for me.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 415 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Glaister, in reply to James Butler,

    Here's a google drive link to a pdf (which you can then download) for the main paper. And here's one for the prior 'Ratios' Argt paper. Hope that helps.

    Since Nov 2006 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Stephen Glaister,

    Here's a google drive link to a pdf

    Thanks Stephen.

    In your paper you go to some lengths to show that the probability of any given polyamorous relationship being personally fulfilling to all the involved parties is less than that for a two-person marriage. This may be true; I don't know, but I think it's irrelevant (I'm not even going to go into the fact that we don't assess hetero couples on their probability of happiness before allowing them to marry). You then claim that it follows that polyamorous relationships should not be formalized as marriages. I'm not sure I understand how you get to that claim. Would the availability of PA marriage change the probability of PARs forming, or of existing PARs ending in unfavourable (ie. societally costly) circumstances? Do formalized vs. informal PARs have different probabilities of being fulfilling? Are the costs to society of a formalized PAR ending in divorce any greater than those for an informal PAR, and even if so, is the difference in cost greater on average than the benefits of allowing PA marriage?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    Missed the edit window to fix a small thinko in that last post: of course an informal relationship can't end in divorce. But you knew what I meant.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to James Butler,

    I'm not even going to go into the fact that we don't assess hetero couples on their probability of happiness before allowing them to marry

    That's kind of a key point though. The question of probability of personal fulfillment is so irrelevant to the question of whether someone's relationship should be able to be legally recognised, it falls on the border of "I wouldn't do this, so it's icky". Which isn't actually an argument.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Totes.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

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