We’ve seen the Facebook profile pics and protest placards with “Love is love!” emblazoned on them, and at first glance it seems endearing and heart warming, but beyond the romanticism, is there any validity behind that statement?

The problem is, the term “Love Is Love” is loaded with a false assumption. It assumes that love is only valid between monogamous relationships, but as we shall see, there are other competing relationship configurations that are just as genuine in their love and commitment. If the slogan is correct, then these other relationships have a case.

SHOULD WE DISCRIMINATE AGAINST THE POLYAMOROUS COMMUNITY?

Those who say that gender is irrelevant to marriage have no leg to stand on in arguing that marriage should be restricted to just two people. Why not 3 people? Why not a group marriage of two women and two men? Why should homosexual marriages be permitted and group marriages be discriminated against? If we’re really going to go with the argument from “equality” to ensure everyone is happy then we need to ensure that all relationship configurations are considered equal and not discriminated against.

Two years ago, Simon Copland who is a freelance writer and regular columnist for the Star Observer, wrote a comment piece on SBS’s website making the case that if it’s all about “Love Is Love,” then there should be serious consideration for polyamorous relationships.

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Screenshot of Simon Copland comment piece "If love is love, why exclude the polyamorous?" on SBS' website.

Copland, discusses his own polyamorous relationship, as well as highlighting the story of three Canadian men — Adam Grant, Sebastian Tran and Shayne Curran, who publicly came out about their polyamorous relationship in 2012. In a video posted online (see left), the three announced their “marriage” as well as their desire to have children. Copland then makes a very revealing statement…

“If love is love, then why does this not count when that love is expressed between more than two people?”

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Screenshot taken from article "Why polyamorous marriages are the next step to equality" on gay news website Pink News.

POLYAMOROUS MARRIAGES ARE SEEN AS THE NEXT STEP TO EQUALITY

Two years ago, an article appeared on the prominent UK gay news website Pink News, written by polyamorous activist Redfern Jon Barrett on why he believes that polyamorist group marriage is the next step to “equality”.

He writes that he submitted the following question to Green Party (UK) leader Natalie Bennett for Pink News:

“At present those in a ‘trio’ (a three-way relationship) are denied marriage equality, and as a result face a considerable amount of legal discrimination. As someone living with his two boyfriends in a stable long-term relationship, I would like to know what your stance is on polyamory rights. Is there room for Green support on group civil partnerships or marriages?”

To which she responded,

“We have led the way on many issues related to the liberalisation of legal status in adult consenting relationships, and we are open to further conversation and consultation.”

Barrett then makes the case that there is incredible public openness and acceptance to the idea of polyamorous unions. He cited a poll conducted by UK online mag Metro which showed public support for polyamorous unions at 43% and another poll conducted by online tabloid website Mirror in which a whopping 62% thought polyamorous marriage should be legal.

Then he pleads his case for polyamorous equality with other relationship types…

“At the centre of the issue lies a fundamental inequality: monogamous relationships have legal rights and protections whilst nonmonogamous ones do not.”

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Screenshot of the Metro poll.
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Screenshot of the Mirror poll.
  • “I would love to have the people who are out there arguing for same-sex marriage say, ‘Let’s be clear: marriage is about primary emotional commitment to another person and it doesn’t mean I won’t **** around.’ There are virtually no longstanding monogamous gay relationships. I happen to think that this is a good thing.”

    Dennis Altman
    Dennis Altman Gay Activist, Sydney Writers’ Festival, 2012

“Simply replace ‘same-sex’ with ‘polyamorous’, and the whole debate looks painfully familiar.”

Barrett then raises the fact that LGBT communities have a long history of polyamory—including Lord Byron and the Shelleys, and involving Harvey Milk and the Radical Faeries. Then he demonstrates stats that that the gay community is not exactly monogamous.

“A 2006 study showed that 28% of lesbians, a third of bisexuals, and almost two thirds of gay men are open to nonmonogamous relationships. As any polyamorous bond will automatically involve at least two men or two women, all feature some form of same-sex relationship. Polyamorous families are queer families.”

“All loving, adult relationships are valid.”

Then he acknowledges that the polyamorous community face the same road to “equality” that the LGBT community travelled for the past three to four decades, which begs the obvious question. Who’s to say that the polyamorous community’s quest for equal marriage rights won’t be accepted in the near future? Should the definition of marriage be subjected to constant revisions in the decades to come?

“Yes, this will be a battle, but we’ve battled before. Yes, it seems a long way away, but twenty years ago the prospect of two husbands or two wives legally wedding one another seemed equally remote. Each new generation grows more open-minded, tolerant, and accepting than the one before…”

“Right now we have a historic opportunity to ensure that equality is for all of us. Love is love, regardless of how many share it. A family is a family, whether it has two members or five. In the end, monogamous or not, all LGBT people deserve equal rights—and if the past decades have proved nothing else, it’s that we are very good at fighting for them.”

Barrett raises an inescapable point. If we are to permit ‘equal’ marriage rights to the gay community now, what about the other minority groups further down the road, who might seem out-of-sight for the time being, but inevitably will be demanding rights in a decade or two to come.

Chief Justice John Roberts of the US Supreme Court said in his dissenting ruling on same-sex marriage,

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”

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Doll, Kitten and Brynn, from Massachusetts, were joined together in a marriage-style ceremony in 2013.

MEANWHILE IN AUSTRALIA, POLYAMORY IS TAKING OFF

Polyamory is gaining more exposure and acceptance in Australian society and is gradually becoming more and more of a cultural talking point.

According to Polyfinda, an Australian polyamorous advocacy group, Polyamory is on the rise.

Luckily, there are a lot of us to love. There’s no numbers for Australia (as yet) but in the US, academic studies estimate that 5% of people are in sexually non-monogamous relationships. If we apply that to Australia , we could have 1.2 million polyamorous people living in this sunburned country.

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Screenshot of the article "Free love in the 21st century: Why polyamory is taking off" on news.com.au in 2015.
polyamory-symbol

1.2 million polyamorous Aussies? The same statistic was echoed by a News.com.au article in June this year entitled “Polyamorous Australian parents juggling lovers with family life”.

The Australian Greens Party are not unfamiliar with polyamorists among their ranks. Several of them operating in positions of high authority within the party hierarchy, are pushing to get the same legal protections for their multiple-partnered relationships as male/female couples receive from the Marriage Act.

Yet, not all the Greens are happy about this.

Federal Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the institution of marriage should involve only two consenting adults. “Our bill clearly states marriage ‘between two consenting adults’ . . . we don’t support polyamorous marriage…” she said. However, other Greens have begged to differ.

Simon Copland, a convenor of the ACT Greens party has said when same-sex marriage is limited to, “two consenting adults [this] discriminates against others in the gay community, including polyamorists“. He accused the Australian Greens of being “hypocrites” because the logic they use to argue for marriage equality should extend to people who have multiple partners.

Copland, himself is in a polyamorist relationship with two other men (see video on right). Their polyamorous lifestyle is based on the belief that ‘love is limitless’. But if all love is equal, why do those in alternative relationships miss out on social and legal benefits that other couples enjoy?

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Screenshot of the article "Polyamorous Australian parents juggling lovers with family life" on news.com.au in June earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the range of gender groups claiming the right to marry grows daily.

Brisbane radio host and polyamorist rights advocate Rachelle White, who describes herself as “a bisexual-pansexual, queer, vegan feminist (who is) polyamorous and ethically non-monogamous”, also comments on the web.

Ms White, who has two partners, told The Australian her desire for polyamorous marriage as an expression of love and equality was analogous to that avowed by gay parliamentarians such as Labor senator Penny Wong in support of same-sex marriage.

“It’s something dear to my heart,” Ms White said, “I do think we need to address same-sex marriage before we do move forward and look at polyamorous marriage.”

So if “love knows no boundaries”, who are we to deny “marriage equality” to three or four loving and committed people who want their union to be given society’s approval?

This is a revolution that will leave marriage and family relationships unrecognisable — and it is not true that “nothing will change”.

WHAT DO GAY AUSSIES THINK ABOUT MARRIAGE BEING REDEFINED FOR GROUPS OF PEOPLE?

Mark & Ben have been together for 15yrs and will vote no in the upcoming postal plebiscite. They say they already have equality. Please listen to this important conversation that took place on Wave FM 96.5.

ISLAM HAS BEEN PUSHING FOR THE LEGALISATION OF POLYGAMY IN AUSTRALIA FOR DECADES

It is no secret that Islam is pushing for marriage laws to be relaxed in order to accommodate polygamy which is permitted within Sharia Law and modelled as an example by the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Last month, Muslim leader Keysar Trad said that he wants Australian men to be allowed multiple wives – but added that gay marriage is wrong because people of the same gender “should only be friends”.

ANYTHING GOES IF ‘LOVE IS LOVE’

If we are to base the entire argument for equal marriage rights on ‘feelings’, then we leave ourselves open to countless minority groups demanding for their social recognition.

Here are other examples of people who claim to have found genuine love:

Again, if we base marriage on romantic feelings, we open up a pandoras box where endless cases of people finding love will be lining up to be married.

Marriage must be colour-blind, but it cannot be gender-blind. The colour of two people’s skin has nothing to do with marriage. But the sexual difference between a man and a woman is central to what marriage is.

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