Eric Ethington has made a second stab at demonizing polygamists, and while his post is a vast improvement over his first, I just want to ask two things: First, what’s the point, and given that there isn’t one, will you please stop? It is embarrassing to see the same arguments used by the anti-LGBTQ folks used by someone to marginalize or other another group of people. I commented on his first post here, and here is a response to his most recent stuff.
First, I admit to being a little hesitant to dig too deeply into this. No one, is actually believing that the efforts for Marriage Equality and Polygamy are really alike. It is a fallacious argument, and Ethington is merely being reactive to the rubbish thrown around by some of the more vocal homophobes. These individuals seek to incite fear- that accepting same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, beastiality and worse. But that is all Ethington is doing- being reactive to some fear mongering. I don’t want to be seen as or get into defending polygamists. I don’t. Personally I think it is hard enough to be successful and happy in one intimate relationship, let alone with more than one person at a time. I am not in favor of legalizing polygamy, although I can’t say I’m against it.
But I am adamantly against the use of fallacious arguments used to other anyone or any group of people. If we are going to achieve real Equality it requires Justice and Justice for all, not just for some. The LGBTQ community has allowed for far too long, partial rights. The community has bought into the idea that some rights for a few is better than no rights for all. Consider Trans Rights. Sure Lesbian and Gay people have far more protections than Trans persons, because we have settled for this martial Equality- a pathway that no longer can be accepted.
Ethington asks, “Is Polygamy and Marriage Equality the same fight”? And there are two easy answers to the question.
1) Marriage Equality is a battle against Gender Discrimination where the gender of the two persons seeking a license is used to discriminate between who can and who can not get married. Polygamy has no element of Gender Discrimination. The gender of the applicants in no way, affects the ability of those persons to get a marriage license. In that sense, the two are utterly different struggles and very different fights.
2) No one, not even the polygamists are claiming they are the same fight. Since no one is saying the are the same fight, then why is anyone arguing this at all?
I’m not a therapist, so I’m not sure why Ethington feels the need to take up a fight no one is fighting, but if he is going to do it, I hope he finds some better arguments.
Redefinition of Marriage
Here’s his big argument:
In the case of plural families, the fight is not for equal access to existing laws, but rather the creation and formation of a new kind of marriage—requiring the creation of not only new marriage laws, but also estate, tax, death and all other related areas of code. (I say “new” in that plural marriage laws do not currently exist in the United States.)
The homophobes consider our efforts for Marriage Equality to be a definition and a new type of marriage too. Just because current law precludes plural marriage doesn’t make it a redefinition, and even if it is, that doesn’t make the existing law constitutional. We don’t keep people from having rights simply because what they want is different from current law. The other reason this is a silly argument is the fact that polygamy is legal and accepted in many countries across the globe. Yes, laws don’t currently account for it, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t.
Some argue that there are state laws that prohibit same-sex marriage, and they would claim that our legal system can’t accept same-sex marriages because of this. I say hogwash. What is and isn’t current law is a poor reason for or against something.
The Issue of Choice
Ethington’s most stupid idea is quoted here (bolded emphasis is mine). His comment is circular. There is nothing innate about polygamy, but all marriage is a choice. WTF?
One of the primary points of interest in the feedback I have received was my use of the word “choice,” in describing polygamous relationships. Believe me, I did not choose the word lightly. LGBT people around the world have struggled for decades to help our neighbors understand that we do not choose our sexual orientations or gender identities, just as no one chooses to be heterosexual or cisgender. But do innate characteristics such as orientation, gender identity, or race also apply to polygamous communities? I don’t see it. True, we do not choose the people we fall in love with, nor does the fact that we may already be in a relationship preclude the possibility of falling for someone else. But choosing to form a relationship with multiple people is just that, a choice—just as the decision two men or two women or a man and a woman make to form a relationship is a choice.
Choice and what is innate has nothing to do with anything. It is a non-issue when it comes to Marriage Equality. This is one of those losing arguments that gets the LGBTQ community nowhere. But my real criticism is this: what does Ethington really know about polygamy or a polyamory community (if it even is a community)? I suspect Ethington speaks as an outsider looking at and making a judgement about a group of people. We hear homophobes using that same type of language about gay, lesbian, bi trans and queer people all the time!
People choose to form relationships. People do it for many reasons, love being one, security being another, and I’m sure there are others. Those seeking Marriage Equality demand equal access to the rights and privileges afforded to opposite sex couples so that those elements conferred by the state (and applied to taxes, etc) are there to protect and support our families. and we demand an end to the gender discrimination used to keep two men or two women from legally marrying.
Ethington isn’t wrong, per se
Really Eric Ethington isn’t wrong, but one has to wonder why he even feels the need to be wasting time energy and blog space on this issue:
But directly correlating the fight for marriage equality to the fight to legalize plural marriage is a legal and logical leap I cannot make in my own mind.
Wake up Eric! No one is making this correlation except you! No one! The Far Right isn’t, The Polygamy Community isn’t. You really are alone in this one.
Where you are not alone is in using poor reasoning and othering maneuvers to try and distance the LGBTQ community from those who are in favor of polygamy and polyamory.
The LGBTQ Community ought to be celebrating the Federal Justices decision because the right to cohabitation does apply to those within our community who seek to form non-traditional relationships, and this right to privacy is connected to our own struggle and our history. The strides we have made are not ours alone but belong to all, since Justice is for all.