Slippery Slope

Desperately trying to resist saying “I told you so”.

The world’s only ‘married’ lesbian threesome are expecting their first child.

Polygamy WeddingDoll, Kitten and Brynn, from Massachusetts, were joined together in a marriage-style ceremony last August and are expecting a daughter in July.

Kitten, 27, is pregnant after undergoing IVF treatment using an anonymous sperm donor, and the trio eventually plan to have three children – one for each of them.

The plan at the moment is that Kitten will bear all the children – possibly using her wives’ eggs and donated sperm – but they are open to other options, such as adoption.

Brynn, 34, says: ‘The hope is to have three kids altogether. We always joke that the children should never outnumber the parents.’

Doll, Kitten and Brynn Young married in a ceremony in August 2013, when each of their fathers walked them down the aisle. All three women wore white wedding gowns and exchanged rings.

Doll, 30, says: ‘As far as we know, there aren’t any other three women who are married like us.’

It was back in 2009 that Brynn first met Doll through an online dating site. Senior Software Designer and Engineer, Brynn had been married twice before to women and both experiences had made her acknowledge that monogamous relationships weren’t for her.

Meanwhile Fashion Designer, Doll had known that she was polygamous since high school. She explains: ‘I had always dated girls – who although they had boyfriends or girlfriends – were also allowed to date me.

‘I never thought that much about it and I had never really ‘come out’ as poly to my friends and family. To me, it was just how I was.’

Brynn and Doll dated for eight months before moving in together. Two years later, they purchased a house together.

Having both enjoyed polygamous relationships before, Doll and Brynn looked for a third woman to join them. After a few failed liaisons, Doll and Brynn created an OKCupid couple’s profile. Eventually, they received a message from Kitten.

Before meeting Doll and Brynn, Kitten had been in two long-term relationships with men. Her first relationship lasted ten years and she had been engaged to her second boyfriend.

Fashion Manager, Kitten says: ‘My second boyfriend and I had been together for several years but a few months before our wedding, he called the whole thing off without explanation. At first, I was distraught but now, I’m grateful for what he did.

‘The whole break-up forced me to really think about who I was and I realised that I had not been honest to myself. On reflection, I realised that I hadn’t been happy in my previous monogamous relationships and I discovered that I was poly.

‘I set up an OKCupid profile for myself and began dating an awesome woman with the happy consent of her husband. They were a lovely couple but we ended the relationship after I had to move away.

‘Soon after that amicable break-up, I came across Doll’s and Kitten’s OKCupid profile and saw they were looking for a third member to join their ‘Super Hero Group’.’

Oh what the hell. Told you so.

OK, so now the serious bit. They’re not actually legally married. Two of them are married and then they had a “hand-fasting” ceremony to bring them all together, accompanied by a binding legal agreement.

It all begs a few questions though.

  • This sentence is fascinating – “Meanwhile Fashion Designer, Doll had known that she was polygamous since high school” – How is this different to a testimony that says “I always knew I was gay since…”? Do we need to start researching the causes of polygamy?
  • If this partnership is permanent, stable, faithful, why *shouldn’t* it be a proper legally recognised marriage? Why should marriage be restricted to just two people?

Answers on a postcard…

64 Comments on “Slippery Slope

  1. I’ve seen a decent number of people refer to themselves as polyamorous. Equal marriage has become synonymous with Gay marriage but people still hold to the number two on a seemingly arbitrary premise. However whenever I’ve mentioned this to ‘equal marriage’ proponents its generally been dismissed as absurd. The only reason is hasn’t happened already is because is hasn’t trickled down into the social conscious yet.

    • I guess marriage equality advocates would argue that the social acceptance of polygamy is not a product of equal marriage – even though both are rooted in the same sexual revolution. Feminists have kept polygamy at bay for 30 years by arguing that the ‘dominant’ form of polygamy today is polygyny – and therefore causes “harm” to others. What a feminist objection to all female handfasted throuples would look like, I don’t know.

      • Excellent point about the feminist objections to polygamy.

        Since polygamy has substantive differences to monogamy beyond mere numbers (risk of power-imballance and/or jealousy) there’s no reason to think it’s an inevitable endzone of marriage equality.

        If polyamory is a sexual orientation, and we see increasing numbers of stable, happy polyamorous relationships, support for polygamy may well spread as it has for equal marriage.

        • ” Since polygamy has substantive differences to monogamy beyond mere numbers (risk of power-imballance and/or jealousy)”

          You see, that’s just polyphobic. Can you take your bigoted prejudice somewhere else?

          • I humbly apologize, and wish you luck in defending polygamy. ;-) (A thoroughly biblical institution, granted, but so counter-cultural.)

            • But you take my point? You sound like a Conservative attacking homosexuality – “But they’re promiscuous and more open to serious sexual diseases”. Your argument against polygamy vanishes when you meet a PSF polygamous unit. Either polygamy is wrong or it isn’t, but don’t play pop psychology to defend a position that supports homosexual marriage but attacks polygamous marriage.

              • Difference is, unlike the prophet of doom, I didn’t draw any conclusions, just raised potential issues, issues that make no reference to psych, poppy or no.

                Other difference is, insofar as public understanding and awareness goes, we’re at a much earlier stage with poly relationships. Separating mutual poly unions from images of a bearded hillbilly surrounded by a flock of submissive wives is the first step.

                For me it’s not about where polyamory is “wrong,” (I don’t believe it is) but whether marriage should be extended to include it. Like polyamorists, I’m open to the idea.

                • I’m not in favour of polygamy, but I know people in polygamous relationships. The ‘bearded hillbilly surrounded by a flock of submissive wives’ stereotype is just that – an ill-informed stereotype. Sometimes this is an arrangement the women make amongst themselves – perhaps because of infertility issues – they can be good friends and share in childcare so it doesn’t all fall on one person. If the stereotype is the only thing standing in the way of polygamy or polyamory, then I predict that it’ll be legal within a generation or so. It’ll be difficult to oppose as it’s impossible to prove that polyamory is more abusive than monogamous relationships, which can often involve a very unhealthy power imbalance, secretiveness and co-dependence.

                  • Nothing is in the way of polyamory as that’s just a relationship which includes more than one person and isn’t legislated (unlike marriage and hence, polgyamy)

                    • Well, you could argue that social attitudes are. And adultery is still grounds for divorce. Isn’t that what people said about gay relationships – nobody’s stopping you from loving one another, you just can’t be married.

                  • Sure is an ill-informed stereotype, that’s why I raised it. Like Joe said above, the patriarchal image gives polygamy some mighty bad press.

                    I also agree about the power imbalance in monogamous relationships. If an activist group gets serious about group marriage, it’ll be hard to argue against, especially on biblical grounds!

                • Separating mutual poly unions from images of a bearded hillbilly surrounded by a flock of submissive wives is the first step.

                  That’s easy.

                  1. Normalisation: NBC just needs to screen-test around Utah for young photogenic, wise-cracking polyamorists to pioneer the next frontier in reality show line-up.

                  Make them young, hip and cool like this one:

                  Just don’t forget to mirror the other eleven well-worn steps of sexual liberalisation:
                  2. Hollywood celebrity endorsement of above D-listers, relating polyamorous ‘freedom’ to the First Amendment.

                  3. Successful encouragement of secretly poly-united celebrities in Western countries to ‘come out’.

                  4. Promotion of victimhood, especially children bullied for parents’ polyamory. Cast all conservative voices as poly-bashing bigots.

                  5. Euphemise their promiscuity by calling them ‘togethers’. Declare any other description to be polyphobically charged.

                  6. Promote ‘born that way’ theories, apply research without peer review and encourage liberal media to hastily seizing upon correlations between DRD4 and polyamory.

                  7. Dig up history of horrendously misguided attempts to ‘cure’ polyamorous desire. Brand ‘sexual addiction’ a misdiagnosis and ban all therapeutic responses to the polyamorous identity.

                  8. Secure Tatchell support without whom liberals can do nothing.

                  9. Announce Polyamory History month, and elide all distinctions with OT polygamy.

                  10. Fight conservative backlash by constant comparison to 60’s ‘no blacks, no irish, no dogs’ racism.

                  11. Announce a political campaign with colour-coded lapel ribbon for polygamy as a commitment device for polyamorists.

                  12. Lean back and smile, knowing the road to hell is once again paved with your good intentions!

                  • :) What about a No 13 – promote ‘togetherness’ in schools? We have witnessed lots of ways of doing this kind of thing.

                    • Forgot that along with…

                      14 – Get Gay Pride marchers everywhere, who previously took exception to being lumped with polygamists, to start wearing magenta infinity ribbons with their pink ones.

                      Any others? Personally, I think they need a Ladele-esque hate figure. A Christian who refuses to buckle. Hmm…

                    • A notable poly-figure from the past who was unfairly treated because of unreasonable prejudice against his/her polyism would be good to promote – face on postage stamps, that sort of thing.

                    • And here are some quotations suitable for those wayside pulpits which one still sees around from time to time:

                      God said to Moses: “This is the ruling you are to lay before them: … If he takes another wife, he must not reduce the food of the first or her clothing or her conjugal rights.”

                      – EXODUS 21:1,10

                      “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture.”

                      – MARTIN LUTHER, hero of the Reformation

                      “It is certain that polygamy is not forbidden by divine law…. Abraham, David, and other holy men had several wives; hence it is obvious that polygamy is not against divine law.”

                      – PHILIP MELANCHTHON, hero of the Reformation

                    • “I do my best to give satisfaction, sir.”

                      – OSCAR WILDE, The Importance of Being Earnest

                    • Sound scheme, Jill. And while we’re about it, how about some banknotes with the faces and names of famous biblical polygamist heroes, e.g. Jacob, Gideon, David, Solomon, giving underneath the verses of Scripture in which we are told about their multiple wives?

                    • We already have the hate figures – the jealous, violent husband who wants to control his wife’s body, and the needy, pathetic housewife who wants her husband to be her whole world and doesn’t understand his needs. This has all been caused by the pernicious idea of monogamy.

              • Depends on whether you think there is anything special about the idea of two people committing to one another . I don’t think that has anything to do with sexual orientation.

                • Marriage policy has more to do with what State policy agrees, rather than anything that you or I think is special.

                  The argument that Peter makes doesn’t imply that a person’s sexual orientation is either a necessary or sufficient condition for polygamy. It does imply that once you favour granting an equivalence to marriage for any kind of sexual relationship that can exhibit PSF characteristics, you cannot validly reject logical arguments to recognise PSF polyamorous or PSF incestuous relationships. You can only argue that they form such a small minority as to be insignificant.

                  The overly reductive PSF mantra not only implies that there’s nothing particularly special about gender in marriage, but also there’s nothing particularly special about the number, nor an existing close family relationship between those who marry.

                  In contrast with the societal affirmation purpose of marriage, there is the reality that, whatever the rites of different religions, the legal purpose of marriage registration has always been to grant a recognized family identity that prioritizes and encourages the private welfare arrangements for those in types of sexual relationships for which shared parental responsibility can be clearly fixed. Thereby, the State is relieved of the burden of child care and nurture.

                  Once again, age and infertility are not types of sexual relationships, so the ‘what about childless couples?’ argument fails.

                  To re-purpose the marriage institution to make a minority feel that PSF heterosexual relations offer no more to society than PSF heterosexual relations offers no counter-argument to a whole lot of PSF polyamorist voter victims standing in line for the same ‘social affirmation through marriage’ fix.

                  As with SSM advocacy, the focus is on themselves and not the wider implications for society. And they’ll also call it marriage equality.

                  • To underscore how marriage facilitates the prioritization of private welfare arrangements for the types of sexual relationships for which shared parental responsibility can be clearly and naturally fixed, consider yesterday’s Royal Courts of Justice ruling: .

                    In L v C (Applications by non-biological mother) [2014] EWFC 1280, Justice Peter Jackson handed down a declaratory judgment in the case of a separated lesbian partner. She and her ex-partner had procured a sperm donor over the internet and Ms L had used a syringe to impregnate her partner Ms C. Ms C conceived and gave birth to G.

                    After the break-up, Ms C took G away to her native home, the Republic of Ireland. Ms L sought two decisions:
                    1. permission to apply for a residence order and a contact order under the Children Act 1989;
                    2. A declaration that she was the ‘psychological parent’ and that they shared family life within the meaning of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

                    For 1, since G was habitually resident in Ireland at the time that Ms L commenced proceedings, Justice Jackson ruled that the UK Court had no jurisdiction over her in relation to matters of parental responsibility.

                    For 2, ‘psychological parenthood’ is only applicable to welfare determinations, not judicial declarations. However, the court did consider itself to have jurisdiction to declare that G and Ms L had shared family life within the meaning of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

                    The reality is that Same-Sex Marriage is powerless to alter this situation. Genuine marriage propagates a presumption of parenthood, rather than a legal fiction.

                    As one writer puts it: ‘Presumptions are things presumed to be true – in most cases, the presumption can be rebutted. Presumptions are not situations where something known to be false is treated as true. Usually the factual status is unknown.’

                    This is true of the presumption of paternity. In contrast, the HFEA regulation that gives shared parental rights to same-sex civil partners or spouses is a LEGAL FICTION, that is ‘a proposition about the substance or procedure of the legal system (in this case, parenthood of IVF children) which rests in whole or in part on factual premises known to be inaccurate at the time of the fiction’s invocation’.

                    Opposing unfair legal fictions has nothing to do with homophobia. It has everything to do ensuring that natural parental rights are not further undermined by big government and wealthy, but unentitled litigants.

                    There is a corollary that ‘Legal fiction should not be extended so as to lead unjust results’. Yet, we can see unjust results in the willful liberal ignorance of the HFEA 1990 amendment that replaced ‘the need of that child for a father’ with a generalised ‘need for supportive parenting’.

                    The same unjust results will occur when polyandrous unions break apart. Biological kinship is the fairest and most effective means of prioritizing parental rights. That’s why binary opposite-sex marriage exists. We might romanticise the notion that happy families will arise from any combination, but endorsing any other sexual arrangement as marriage only encourages ever more complex and unfair litigation.

                  • To be frank I think you have said it yourself. Few will want to go down this route. So….why the angst? You know abstract morality is really not very important. Thats the problem with Christianity. Its a daft religion based on a silly book of no use to me. I really don’t care about the details of what it teaches. Im fascinated by it sociologically but the longer I stay outside the more I regard it as simply of no help.

                    • The fact that the largest City Council in New Zealand is using taxpayers’ money to fund a seminar entitled “Poly Panel, Discussions around Queer Polyamory” (described on GayNZ as “a one day event exploring a framework of ethical, healthy polyamory relationships.”) demonstrates that ‘slippery slope’ concerns are grounded in reality rather than abstract morality.

                      In May 2012, Four Paper Buildings law practice hosted a seminar in London on Alternative Families that explored the case law of LGBT parenthood arrangements, In every case, the biological parent had to contest the same-sex couple who agreed to involvement at first only deny it once the child was born.


                      The fact that in several cases, the lesbian partner was impregnated by heterosexual intercourse might not matter to you, but it does matter in the ‘real world’ determination of parental responsibility.

                      We already know you’ve got a plaster for every sore, so spare those who adhere to what you call a ‘daft religion’ a response than either dismisses or excuses the wholesale misuse of public funds or another person’s procreative capacity to explore a route that you claim few will want to go down.

                      You can place your sociological fascination elsewhere. (I’m being polite).

  2. There is no reason Peter, other than cultural, *if* you are going to insist on very clear prohibitions for everything in scripture. I was arguing this on Vicky Beeching’s latest blog post only yesterday; there is far less in the Bible to guide against polygamy than homosexual union. You cannot scripturally object to one and not the other.

    • If you read the bible like a pagan or a legalist (i.e. looking for commandments to succeed at keeping and prohibitions to succeed at avoiding) then you will arrive at the point of view you express. However, if you read the bible as a Christian (i.e. looking for the story of Christ and his mission to rescue his bride, the church) you will find plenty of scriptural objections to anything another that faithful monogamy as an acted parable of Christ and the Church.

      • I wonder if an argument could be made for a three-way relationship that it mirrors the triumvirate of Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Because isn’t that all that the Jesus/Bride thing is about? A nice metaphor for understanding a couple.

        • Or is it Hamlet? Is it in fact a much deeper thing that a metaphor? Is it that the male / female relationship is designed as not just a metaphor but more an icon of the saving work of Christ and his Church?
          Let me ask you some questions. Does the grammar in Ephesians 5 indicate that the sex of the spouses is integral to their representation of Christ and the Church? If God meant *any* two people to represent the union of Christ and the Church, why are there NO examples of same-sex couples in his revelation? If the marital imagery of groom and bride is not important, why is it used multiple times in Scripture to indicate the union of Christ and his people? Why does revelation use the word “bride” not “spouse”?

          And so on…..

          • I’m not saying the marital imagery ISN’T important, it’s actually a really useful tool, an analogy, to help us understand God. But I also don’t think I should be deriving my morals from analogy. And as an anology, it relies heavily on the cultural context it was written in; because an analogy explains something unknown in terms of the known. The early Church will have been familiar with heterosexual marriage. It was, after all, pretty much everywhere. So it is quite natural to use that as the basis for such an analogy, and that it is also a heterosexual analogy. For me personally, though, the analogy says a lot more about the /relationship/ between Jesus and his Church, and husbands/wives, than the individual components themselves. It’s a relational analogy, not (in my eyes) an individualistic analogy, if that makes sense. In that sense, the heavy heteronormative nature of it isn’t really important either.

              • My understanding of the situation is primitive as I’m no historian but I can think of a variety of reasons: 1) that the early Church Fathers wanted to distance themselves from Roman and Greek practises 2) that same-sex unions were not the majority and thus it was easier to simply refer to heterosexual marriage 3) that such same-sex unions tended to have a qualitative difference to heterosexual marriages and 4) that procreation of heirs for inheritance etc was historically important for the Jews and that such thinking could be absorbed by the people such as Paul. And, of course, that equality was not really an issue in classical culture.

                  • If you’re God and you want us to follow certain rules, why not make those clear from the outset? Why not carve them into the Himalayas so everyone can see them?

                    Good question.

                    • If you’re referring to the commandments of the OT…well, not all of those (if any) apply any more, do they? It would be so much easier if Jesus gave us a legalistic manual for life.

        • I don’t think so because you have reversed the metaphor. Christ and his bride are not a metaphor for heterosexual marriage; heterosexual marriage is a metaphor for Christ and his church. This reversal of the metaphor is symptomatic of an anthropocentric reading of scripture. It’s an attempt to make everything about us. It’s eschatological hi-jacking. Yes, the bible is for us but it isn’t about us. Yes, marriage is for us, but it isn’t about us. In fact, as soon as we start making marriage primarily about us, it begins to falls short of its God-given purpose – to be an acted parable of Christ and the church. Christ and his church isn’t a “nice metaphor” for understanding a couple; the marriage of a couple is a God ordained metaphor for understanding Christ and his church.

          • I think you’ve misunderstood my point. The Bible is about Christ and his Church. The metaphor merely helps us understand the relationship between the two. I’m not arguing that Christ and his Bride ARE are a metaphor for marriage. I’m arguing the opposite.

            • And I think you’ve misunderstood my point! I’m saying that marriage only exists because Christ and the church exist. I’m saying that there is a direct and causal relationship between the reality of Christ and his church and the very existence of marriage in creation. There is zero happenstance. There is no “merely”. There are no “interesting parallels”. There is only intentional and specific divine revelation about the nature of reality.

              • If this were the case we’d expect to see it in pre-Pauline thought, wouldn’t we? Instead, in Genesis, we see the creation of Eve reliant on the fact that it “is not good for Man to be alone”

                • Anthropocentrism again. To be sure, it’s not good for man to be alone. But that’s because it’s not good for Christ to not have his bride, the church. Bridegroom and bride imagery for the relationship between God and his people is found right throughout the Old Testament. Paul simply makes christologically explicit in the NT what is already theologically implicit in the OT.

                  • It’s not anthropocentric in the least. Genesis says (even if it is a creation myth) that God made Eve because it “isn’t good for Man to be alone”. I’m not assuming that humanity is the most important thing in the universe – it just seems like that’s the reason why God created women. It seems pretty clear to me that that’s a reason in itself, rather than that God makes Eve because Paul’s metaphor needs to work. That’s working backwards from Paul, rather than working forwards from Genesis.

                    • I think the implications of your view are misogynistic. We are told that God created human beings male and female with primary reference to himself; to be his image bearers. The complementarity of Eve with relation to Adam is rooted inextricably in her co-equality with Adam as God’s image bearer. Nothing else will do. Anything less will lead to theological problems. If you make primary (Eve’s relationship to Adam) what is only secondary (a result of co-equality before God) you end up with a view of men and women which is more Islamic than Christian. You lose their co-equality before God as co-bearers of his image (the image of God being Christ of course) and you get the kind of inequality that leads to all kinds of abuse and exploitation.

                  • “I’m saying that marriage only exists because Christ and the church exist. I’m saying that there is a direct and causal relationship between the reality of Christ and his church and the very existence of marriage in creation. ”

                    “To be sure, it’s not good for man to be alone. But that’s because it’s not good for Christ to not have his bride, the church.”

                    I was always taught that the incarnation of Christ and the existence of the Church on earth were made necessary by the Fall of Man. We find this idea made explicit not only in some well-known hymns and carols (e.g. “Adam lay y-bounden”) but also in the Exsultet, which is sung on Holy Saturday at the Vigil service in Roman Catholic churches: “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

                    If, therefore, your explanation for the existence of marriage is correct, it is quite extraordinary that Genesis 2 should represent God as instituting marriage BEFORE the Fall (if you believe in such a thing) took place.

                    • “I was always taught that the incarnation of Christ and the existence of the Church on earth were made necessary by the Fall of Man.”

                      This is where you’re going wrong. Before the formation of the Universe God knew his people would fall. The Church has always been Christ’s intended bride, even before Adam breathed his first.

                    • In the creation story we see the creation of the material world, the creation of marriage, and the creation of the first church, the worshipping community manifested in the relationship between Adam and Eve and God.

  3. Also the question that if all relationships are treated the same as a married man and woman then whats the point in marriage? Maybe invent something else?

  4. I do wonder why it is that so many people I questioned about this before SSM would blank deny that polygamy was a possibility. I have to be honest, though, I’d far rather be proved wrong about this than be able to say “I told you so”.

    • Homosexual behavior is justified entirely on the basis of authentic desire. The homosexual apologist is acutely aware that desire is not a sufficient basis for justification. People possess desires that are both illicit and authentic. So for tactical reasons the homosexual apologist seeks to distance himself from certain disapproved behaviors in order to say “We are the same as heterosexual marriage only different. We aren’t removing the boundary. We are changing who may be encompassed by it.”

      In fact he has undermined the very concept of structural boundaries on human sexuality because he has elevated his own desires above the structural complementary of male and female. Having justified his own structurally deficient behavior on the basis of autonomous consent, he can’t consistently deny the same consideration to others just because he thinks some boundaries must still stay in place. The corrosive logic of consent must have its way.

      Now to be fair, he will probably find fault with certain behaviors (i.e. incest) but he has demolished the tools by which to oppose them. He is reduced to trusting that the ‘ick factor’ will hold. But of course it did not hold in the case of homosexuality and in these cases he will find himself unable to oppose the logic of consent that he has already established. He will use arguments uncomfortably similar to the arguments we use against homosexuality, and he will find them just as ineffective in this culture that has deified human autonomy.

      The sad truth is that there is no lower limit to man’s depravity. He is capable of consent to anything.


  5. “If this partnership is permanent, stable, faithful, why *shouldn’t* it be a proper legally recognised marriage? Why should marriage be restricted to just two people?” – I do see this as a crucial question. Did you ever see my ‘is there a stable place to rest at the end of the progressive path?’ post? Here:

  6. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that marriage was instituted to legitimise children and parenthood, not adult emotions, which never did fit neatly into that model. Hence the sacrificial understanding of the marriage covenant, where each putative parent sacrifices freedoms to secure stability for their offspring and security of parental rights.
    If we fall to the revisionist understanding that the primary reason is love, we have missed the main point of the institution. Same sex marriages must always exclude at least one natural parent of any children raised in such a union. At least traditional polygamy (man with several wives) included both, despite its obvious drawbacks.
    It’s depressing how much of the discourse on this topic seems completely blind to the effects on children – anyone working with children knows of the pain of children of divorced parents and adopted children, never mind trendier family arrangements such as the above, which treat children as acccessories – it’s time we stopped tiptoeing around the feelings of adults and looked at the bigger picture.

  7. I am presently on a part of Africa where polygymy and women binding together to make family In this way is the norm ………… It’s also about where you are.

  8. They are certainly not the only ‘poly’ relationship around – indeed, it is very common even among evangelical Christians in much of Africa

  9. Here are a few of the salient cases that have shaped alternative family law:

    One partner in lesbian couple conceived via intercourse with biological father:

    Lesbian partner conceives by intercourse with biological father (her partner’s brother)

    Lesbian couple used informal assisted reproduction to conceive child with known biological father:

    UK lesbian couple used IVF to conceive two children by a gay couple from Boston. They then fought over custody arrangements.

    What is notable in the last case, is that each couple tried to rely on traditional two-parent orthodoxy: the kind that marriage delivers. Hedley J noted that the respondents’ view seemed to be that the applicants were intended to have merely identity contact, whereas the applicants considered that they…were in the position of a traditional separated parent.

    The lesbian couple counter-claimed that the gay couple represented ‘an invasion of the life of a nuclear family’. In other words, in spite of their non-traditional procreative arrangements, both couples wanted the court to apply the traditional two-parent model, in the case of the respondents reducing the biological father to a peripheral role.

    In particular, marriage then becomes the ‘tie-breaker’ bolstering the claims that these alternative same-sex arrangements should be accorded the same rights as those who follow the traditional two-parent model.

    As Hedley J commented, “In the traditional model they would have a point; that is why grandparents and other relatives usually need the permission of the court to apply for contact. But they do not have a nuclear family in the traditional sense; their model does not encompass what these parties chose to agree and do in this case even though the women are and must remain the principal parents”.

    So, legitimising these alternative arrangements as part and parcel of the traditional two-parent family model will produce unorthodox precedents that future litigants can rely on to undermine the rights of biological parents in all instances.

    During last year’s debates, the rhetorical question asked was, ‘How does same-sex marriage affect your straight marriage?’

    The answer is: ‘Legitimising such ‘alternative arrangements’ as marriage undermines my right of parenthood through straight marriage.’

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