Written by Mandy Trimble-Stevens
I read an article from Huffington Post by Vivienne Chen that made a great point about how often in the conversation about gay marriage the slippery slope argument of plural-marriages is thrown into the mix and "..., LGBTQ progressives end up throwing another sexual minority -- indeed, a minority within their own minority -- under the bus..." In this case that minority is the polyamorous community.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with polyamory the most basic and most widely accepted definition is "The practice, state or ability of having more than one sexual and loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved." Note the knowledge and consent part, this is not the same as cheating.
Since Vivienne put it so well....
"But before we go any further, I'd like to clarify that this argument isn't about marriage. Talking about marriage rights assumes that legal marriage recognition is the goal of most LGBTQ and most polyamorous/nonmonogamous (poly/NM) people, which is simply not true. It also opens the door for discussing the logistical barriers to institutionalizing poly relationships, which is a separate conversation. Instead, I am discussing here the general acceptance in society for the concept of a non-straight or nonmonogamous partnership/relationship."
Read the full article HERE
So the point here is basically there is an attitude within the LGBT community (that in my experience is surprisingly common but of course like anything, is not shared by all) that goes something like "We are different and we want acceptance because this is who we are and we aren't hurting anyone!.. But we aren't like those freaks, that's just wrong!" Really, when one minority is striving for acceptance they shouldn't be stepping on the backs of another to get there. If we truly want all people to be treated with equal respect that has to also include poly folks.
So how do we handle it when someone throws out the "If we let the gays marry then they're going to want polygamy too!" slippery slope argument? Vivienne leaves us with some helpful tips,
"In order to build a more inclusive LGBTQ equality/acceptance movement, we as activists need to learn how to combat the poly-baiting that occurs on the opponents' side. Regardless of your own personal opinions about the feasibility or acceptability of an open or nonmonogamous relationship, we need to have the language to call out anti-equality bigots on their bullshit and false logical assumptions every time they make a "LGBTQ relationships = polyamory (= bestiality = total sexual depravity)" comment.
I offer you this script as only one example of how to respond to someone when they make these claims:
'When you try to analogize LGBTQ relationships with multiple relationships, you falsely assume that the idea of polyamory will spark an outrage that will force us to alienate another group. You're using polyamory as a straw man to avoid dealing with the fact that our Bill of Rights makes it impossible for you to ignore that LGBT relationships are as legitimate as heterosexual relationships.'
If you aren't squeamish about standing behind a poly-inclusive LGBT movement, you can also add: Your belief that LGBTQ equality will lead to acceptance of polyamory is right. It could. And it should."
I will go further and say that I believe that not only should we not be throwing poly folk under the bus, but we should be fighting side by side to support their human rights as well. Maybe not for plural-marriage (at least not yet) but a good starting place can be fighting to have poly folk included in non-discrimination laws. After all, we should all have the right to love who we please without fearing backlash.