(Originally published at The Federalist)
The Massachusetts town of Somerville has become the first in the nation to legalize polyamorous relationships. It’s evidence of the slippery slope social conservatives warned would follow legalizing gay marriage.
Polygamy was the obvious evolution of redefining marriage. After all, every argument supporting gay marriage—“Love is love,” “we deserve equal protection under the law,” and “we’re not harming anybody”—also supports group marriage.
Somerville’s legal recognition of polyamory came about on June 25 while the city council was changing its domestic partnership application to a gender-neutral form. When Somerville council member Lance Davis was challenged over why the form was limited to two applicants, he replied, “I don’t have a good answer.”
Indeed, if we are going to ignore the fundamental, dual-sex form marriage has employed for millennia, there is no good answer to why government-sanctioned adult relationships should be limited to two adults. That is, unless we consider the rights of children to be known and loved by the only two adults to whom they have a natural right—their mother and father.
Yet, according to the prevailing view of marriage, endorsed by the Supreme Court’s ruling mandating gay marriage in 2015, marriage has nothing to do with children. These days, marriage is simply a vehicle for adult fulfillment.
By such reasoning, there is no limiting principle for the sex, number, duration, or exclusivity of a marriage relationship. While the same cannot be said of the children resulting from their unions, plenty of adults feel fulfilled by short term, single-gendered, non-exclusive, or multi-partnered relationships. SCOTUS was indifferent to the needs of the children in their 2015 decision, and Somerville is following suit.
The Republican Party’s founding platform sought to abolish what they referred to as “the twin pillars of barbarisms,” slavery and polygamy. Republicans were successful in legally eradicating both: slavery in 1865, and polygamy in 1890, but pockets of polygamy persisted, especially within the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) church.
A woman who was raised in one such FLDS home until her mother left with her five children— we’ll call her “Cheryl”—noted of the Somerville decision, “I do not think that governments should legalize polygamist homes because they are generally abusive and harmful to children and women within them.”
While she concedes there are “polygamist families who function quite well,” the families she was exposed to were “almost always education deprived, low on resources and food, isolated from mainstream society, abusive, and perpetuated pedophilia.” She added that while the women in the home shared the workload, the children’s emotional needs would often go unmet.
Cheryl isn’t the only child to reject a polygamous life after growing up with parents who had several concurrent partners. Story after story after story of children who have abandoned the polygamous world of their youth has surfaced in the last few years. They often report power imbalances and jealousy among the wives, and inequality among the children.
Leftists proclaim, “But there’s a difference between polygamy and polyamory!” Right. Just like “pure socialism has never been tried.”
Progressives posit polygamy and polyamory are “vastly different.” They decry polygamy, in which typically one man has several wives, as oppressive and patriarchal, while the amorphous “polyamory” is consensual and liberating, even for the kids.
Amy Grappell, one such child of a poly relationship, would disagree. In Amy’s youth, her parents began spouse-swapping with the neighbors. In today’s terms, Amy was subjected to polyamory, or “ethical non-monogamy,” and it was no picnic.
In her documentary detailing her parents’ “Quadrangle,” Amy discloses how more adults in her home did not result in more parental love. Rather, the household dynamics centered on adult sexual desire, and the jealousy and competitiveness between the women was a constant.
Amy felt abandoned by her parents, and describes her feelings as “the enemy of their utopia.” The emotional and psychological fall-out from her parents’ sexual experiment has plagued Amy into her adult life.
James Lopez, who was also raised in a “modern” poly home, rejects the idea that polyamory just means a larger family for kids. “The problem is that children in homes with extended family members do not ever see those members kiss either their mom or dad, as is the case in poly homes. I didn’t like seeing my dad show affection to another woman, especially to a woman who wasn’t my biological mother. Those images still lurk in the back of my mind today. And they don’t bring a sense of ‘family’ to me.”
James believes that, “Instead of promoting poly-ships, our political institutions should revive the ideas that fatherhood matters, that motherhood matters because both are essential for the flourishing of children.”
There are very few reliable studies on outcomes for children raised in poly homes, but we don’t really need them. We already have a mountain of data on family structure that shows the presence of non-biological adults does not improve outcomes for kids, no matter what type of relationship exists between the adults.
Conversely, the data invariably proves that children fare best in the home of their married biological mother and father. Throughout nearly every religion and culture in history, heterosexual marriage has been to be the tool society used to encourage that child-centric union.
The officials in Somerville mistakenly believe embracing this “progressive” policy indicates they are making progress when, in fact, their new statute is a regression that sets society back by 130 years and comes at children’s expense.