The PolyOldFart

December 13, 2008

Traditional marriage? I’ll show you traditional marriage!

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: — polyoldfart @ 4:10 am

The verbal diarrhea on the subject of “protecting marriage” continues. All of this “for the children” and “pillar of society” sanctimoniousness makes me ill. One of the more annoying statements I’ve heard, and with increasing frequency, is how protecting heterosexual privilege of marriage for two is preserving an unbroken tradition of millennia that is the bedrock of civilized society.

What crap.

And how, exactly, has this “tradition” been preserved when we no longer widely condone multiple wives for men or marriage as literal ownership of a woman as property? How about the part where a wife has no legal identity apart from her husband? All of these things also “redefined marriage” as it existed since the beginning of publicly recognized unions. And that’s even without getting into the mixed-race and mixed-faith marriages that have been vehemently protested in living memory.

Much has been said about how permitting same-sex unions will open up the door to polygamous marriages. Sorry, that horse has already left the barn. Sure these days most places it’s not permitted, but it’s disingenuous to claim that part of the storied millennia (of a portion far greater than what is considered “traditional” now) never existed.

If you want to legislate a particular morality, at least be honest that is your goal. I will still disagree and argue it has no place in American society, but at least I will have some respect for your opinion.

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November 29, 2008

Unhealthy Relationships

Filed under: polyamory — polyoldfart @ 4:51 am

D is going back east next month and to avoid an expensive hotel is staying with a partner of his. It’s someone he’s known for a long time and almost married some decades ago. They have continued to see each other occasionally, despite the problems that caused him to break off the engagement. Normally him going off to visit another partner wouldn’t be a big deal. But with this person, it is.

I’ve met her several times and it has always been a painful experience. At first she seemed merely shy, hardly speaking. D assured me that she just needed to warm up. I’ve tried to start up a conversation, encourage them to go off and have a good time together, anything I could think of to get her to open up even just a little. It only got worse. After an entire meal where she barely acknowledged I was at the table and a subsequent visit where she was unwilling to be in the same room with me, D and I had a long discussion about it. Eventually the truth of the matter came out.

She is monogamous. And despite time and distance, D being involved with others and now living with me for quite a while, she still wants him to move back to the east coast to be with her. Only her. She wants nothing to do with me because I am in the way of her goal. D has told her numerous times that I’m not going anywhere and he’s certainly not moving back, but it does not seem to have any effect. When she has been here, they go off to a hotel and D basically vanished for the weekend. If I was lucky, I got a text message or a voicemail. After several visits with less and less communication each time, I had enough.

I wouldn’t say it was exactly an ultimatum, but I insisted that she was no longer welcome in my home and I was unwilling to give up all contact with the person I live with just to allow her to pretend I didn’t exist for a few days. Here I was, being ignored by my partner for the sake of someone who wanted him to leave me. And for this, the hotel cost and occasionally the flight came out of our household budget and they took my vehicle for the weekend? No more.

D says “She behaves like that because she’s monogamous.” Bullshit. One’s preference for a single monogamous partner is no excuse to be rude to one’s host. It’s not like this is a new development. He has not seen her for a while, although I know they talk, so I thought he had broken off the sexual relationship. I particularly thought this after the many things D has said about how he wishes I didn’t still care about R, that it was not healthy to continue to associate with (or want to) someone who is clearly unwilling to act in a respectful manner. Apparently not. I’m not happy about this.

Now I’m not throwing a fit and ordering him to never talk to her again. I’m fine with his continuing the relationship as long as she acknowledges me as his partner. Which as far as I can tell she refuses to do. This leaves me in the untenable position of wanting to declare “Her or Me!” and force him to break it off. Not because I “need to feel secure” but for the continued domestic tranquility where I know his other relationships are healthy and supportive of our relationship. And I do not believe that can exist with a person who actively lobbies to cut me out of the picture, no matter what D says about how “he’s dealing with it.”

I know when we next visit his parents, he is going to want to see her. I’ve been here before, where he disappears for an afternoon and leaves me with his mother while they go off for lunch. I am willing to not make a stink about this trip, but neither am I letting it pass without comment. I have already warned him that if nothing changes, next time I will not be so polite about it.

November 15, 2008

What’s Good for the Goose is Apparently not Good for the Gander

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: — polyoldfart @ 4:44 pm

There is quite a lot of noise about the poor Prop 8 supporters, including the Mormon Church (who publicly called on their members to contribute and they did, in large numbers) being the target of a “witch hunt.” Gay rights activists are using public records to identify large donors and make them known through websites and public demonstrations. There have been calls for boycotts. The objects of this notoriety are unhappy to be called out in public, claiming their right to participate in the political process is being infringed.

I have zero sympathy. First, when you donate to a campaign you are required to give personally identifying information, including the name of your employer. This is all sent to the state to be compiled into a list of donors. All public information, freely available. Several newspapers have posted searchable databases on their websites.

Second, and more pointedly, why is there all this bellyaching now after what the Prop 8 campaign itself did some weeks ago when it sent letters to No on 8 contributers threatening to widely publicize their stand against traditional marriage unless they made a similar contribution to their side?

The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published. It is only fair for Proposition 8 supports to know which companies and organizations oppose traditional marriage.

Public contribution information is public because the people, through their elected representatives, determined there is a compelling interest in allowing everyone to know who is funding a campaign. As long as there have been donor lists there have been attempts to use them to apply pressure on contributers. Both sides on this issue had individuals call out large donors in an attempt to shame them into changing their position. Individuals do that. To have it come out that the Prop 8 campaign itself was sending threatening solicitations that resembled a good old-fashioned protection racket was alarming. To think that this could be done without like backlash from opponents is absurd. To claim that they should be protected from it can only be described as arrogance.

Sacramento Marriage Protest

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: — polyoldfart @ 4:17 pm

As I’m getting ready to head out for today’s event, here are a few pictures from last weekend in Sacramento. I took the train out, which was actually pretty nice. I had never been to Sacramento, sometime I should go for an actual visit.

The protest was on the grounds of the State Capitol. When I arrived around 11:30 there were a handful of people setting up, testing the sound system and so on. A group of people had made and were still making signs, some generally available for others to choose.

sac1

Many people arrived with their own signs. At least a dozen people that I noticed wanted to take a picture of mine. I overheard this man talking, who said that he was proud to serve in the military but still got booted out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because someone had found a picture of him at his birthday party.

sac2

The program was a mix of speakers and music and then a rather sedate stroll around the perimeter of the Capitol grounds. Along the narrow sidewalk, the first marchers returned back to the West Stairs before the last had left. There were no Prop 8 supporters that I could see, although reports were there was a tiny group (2 or 3, apparently) standing around booing the speakers from afar.

There were some interesting things said, many speakers appeared with their families and talked about how important it was to them to have their relationship recognized by legal marriage just like other Californians and now that’s been taken away by voters. One said her temple had been vandalized, another read a message from a woman who was spontaneously attacked by a group of Prop 8 supporters on the street. The openly gay mayor of West Sacramento, recently re-elected, pointed out that his constituents approved of him, by a wide margin, to continue to run their city but also decided that he could not be trusted with a marriage license.

November 10, 2008

My day in Sacramento

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: — polyoldfart @ 4:19 am

I’ll have more to say when I’m not so tired. I got up early and left around 7 to get the train to Sacramento. Here’s what I did when I got there.

If there were Prop 8 supporters there, I didn’t see any. Organizers instructed people to let security know if anybody was trying to raise a ruckus and they would be politely escorted away, by the police if necessary. Someone told me there was a small group, standing around looking cranky. All I saw were happy people off all kinds and some businesslike state police wandering around making sure nobody did anything stupid.

November 8, 2008

Angry queer person

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: — polyoldfart @ 7:32 am

Tonight I marched through San Francisco to protest the passage of Proposition 8. I’m not really an activist, I would much prefer to go about my business and not make a lot of noise. I am a quiet person. But I am angry. Angry that a bare majority of California voters can decide who is and is not allowed to exercise what the state Supreme Court has described as a fundamental right of all citizens: to marry the partner of one’s choice.

Tonight I looked up the California Constitution, to see for myself what it says. You can read the whole thing yourself, too. Here’s what I found:

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 1 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

SEC. 7. (b) A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges
or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.

“On the same terms.” It doesn’t say “equivalent” or “pretty much the same as” or “call it something else and make everyone happy.” It says “on the same terms.”

Proponents of Prop 8 say “It’s the will of the people, so shut up and go home already.” I want them to explain why anyone would choose domestic partnership over marriage if they are “the same but in name.” If so, then why are they not called by the same name?

Because they are not, and no amount of beating around the bush will make it so. Many years ago the Supreme Court of the United States declared that “separate” is not and never will be “equal.” Plessy v. Ferguson, the decision overturned by Brown v. Board of Education, is universally condemned as an embarrassment to the nation and a low point in American jurisprudence. I am pleased to say that queer Americans are not enslaved (only discouraged from travelling to some parts of the country) or lynched (mostly) or denied housing (not really) or public accommodation (more-or-less) or jobs (sorta.) But the recognition of rights protected on the basis of sexual orientation is just as much a civil rights issue now as race was then. (And still is, for that matter.)

Majority rule is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. This is why we are a republic, not a direct democracy. Because it is clear that tyranny of the majority is just as offensive as tyranny of a dictator, that “government of the people, by the people, for the people” means All the People, not just the largest or loudest group.

I am angry. Not as a bisexual person, but as an American and a Californian. I came here because other states I have lived in not only failed to recognize the dignity of all people, gay, lesbian, bisexual or otherwise, but actively worked against it. California was, by comparison, the Land of Milk and Honey. I had no delusions that I had moved to Gay Paradise but I expected the people of California, with typical live-and-let-live friendly apathy, would allow the slow movement towards full recognition of diversity to continue on its course. I was wrong. And I refuse to go quietly.

November 3, 2008

mix and match words: polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, polyamory

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: — polyoldfart @ 2:36 am

Opponents to same-sex marriage seem to always want to bring up oppressive polygyny as a reason to not permit gays and lesbians to wed: if we allow two persons of the same sex to marry then why are we to stop three or four? They decry the horror of the possibility, that no rational adult could consent to. They hold up the same old argument that all non-monogamous marriage relationships are of old men and a harem of unwilling or deluded child brides. “See! Look at Utah and where did it get them?”

You know, a hundred or two years ago I can’t see how I would have wanted to be a wife at all, whether of one or a dozen. All that obeying, without an independent legal identity or assets, firmly upheld by law. It was bad enough just to be female, there were times when a woman lost rights upon marriage. A wife was legally unable to charge a husband with rape because sexual access was a marital right of a man over his property. This is why women chose to go to convents.

But in these enlightened times adult women are not the property of men. However the expectations of the past are still being held as the “tradition” of the present to prohibit consenting adults from living as they choose without interference of the state. (And if you think you have the unfettered right to cohabit with more than one person without threat of official interference, you clearly don’t have children. Or busybody relations.)

Even in rational discussions of the subject many people cannot separate the idea of a chosen union of peers and asserting patriarchal power over helpless females. I found an interesting debate from the University of Chicago Law School (the faculty blog, no less.) The conversation is refreshingly intelligent, but just the same some commenters still seem to miss the idea that competent, informed adults can freely choose an arrangement that meets the needs of all parties.

For many years I was in a relationship with two women and one man. Much to my amazement, I had multiple people independently inform me that I was being oppressed. How can I be a modern feminist if I were willing to abide such a situation? “You seem like such an intelligent, educated person.” Here I am again being told that I’m not qualified to make a choice for myself.

October 19, 2008

It’s election time, folks

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: — polyoldfart @ 3:43 am

Politics runs on money. I am fortunate to have some at the moment so we made a contribution to the No on 8 campaign. The state court determined the prior law conflicted with the state constitution, so those opposed to same-sex marriage drafted a constitutional amendment that would take it away. And there is an absurd amount of money coming in from outside the state to support it.

The No on 8 campaign is currently running a matching offer supported by generous donors, one million dollars in matching funds for advertisements in the last days before the election. No matter what you think about the prospect of marriage for more than two, if you support legal marriage for monogamous gay and lesbian friends consider making a donation.

No on 8 matching donations page Note that you must be a US Citizen to contribute.

September 26, 2008

Conversations you don’t hear at work

Filed under: polyamory — polyoldfart @ 3:36 am

Next week I’m scheduled to interview someone I know from the local poly/kink community for a position in my group. He was referred by someone else on my team, she’s told the VP I know him as well but it probably didn’t really sink in. I’ve been too busy to be much involved in hiring except for occasionally being handed a resume and shoved in the direction of a conference room.

I’ve know the candidate for a couple years, seeing him off and on at various events. He’s a nice guy, well-liked by all and a regular volunteer. Professionally he is currently in a similar role. These are all good things. If all goes well it is likely we will make him an offer. This brings up some unusual considerations.

Like, which of the people I see him with is his actual spouse? It would be wise to not appear confused on this point. And also well advised to not make comments such as “So I hear your partner and D had a Really Good Time at the party last week!” Which, in fact, they did, and all persons with standing to have an opinion in the matter considered it to have had a positive outcome. At least I do know this person outside parties, so there isn’t the “didn’t recognize you with your clothes on” problem. I may, however, have some temporary difficulty remembering to call him by his given name.

It has at times been difficult to not openly discuss relationships in the office, particularly when things are not going well. I used to vent to another friend of mine but, despite trying to make himself out to be all progressive, he really isn’t supportive of polyamory. I had to stop it on that alone, as I was tired of hearing “Yeah that sucks but you know these things never work.” Soon thereafter a new person arrived who I knew was poly and then I could have someone else to talk to. Still quietly, but it was nice to have an outlet at the office.

If we get a third poly person in the group, the opportunity for discussion will be even greater. I’m not really sure what I think yet. I’m not actively open at the office, although I’ve made vague remarks here and there. There are several poly people and more that I suspect but haven’t inquired about. But I’ve heard various comments from others that make me hesitate. One is someone I’m angling to eventually work for so I’m particularly cautious. I’ve chosen to not bring my relationships into the office, although sometimes things spill over. Most of my tenure here I haven’t actively been seeing someone else, although dealing with the fallout was at times stressful to the point it was obvious something bad was going on. Most people would likely not freak out, certainly not my manager, but I don’t want it to distract from the professional environment.

I like the people I work with but few I would actually consider close friends. And I don’t want to subject random co-workers to the details of my personal life. I had this trouble recently with someone I consider a “professional friend,” I get along with him well and have known him for some time but only ever see in professional contexts. He knows R similarly and got a good dose of my venting that clearly made him uncomfortable. That is heading off into non-consensual TMI for me and I don’t like to do that to people.

September 19, 2008

Polyamory, with children

Filed under: polyamory — Tags: , — polyoldfart @ 1:01 am

I was not able to leave a comment on this post on the Bigger Love blog so I’ll do it here. The basic premise of the message is that primary relationships are broccoli and secondary relationships are cotton candy: your partner goes off for a fun afternoon and you get stuck staying home because somebody has to look after the children. Home life is the “reality” of mortgages and housework and outings with other partners a “fantasy” of carefree enjoyment and uninterrupted sex. Not to mention adult conversation that doesn’t involve crayons. The author considers that as long as he has no outside partner and his spouse does, this is just something he has to figure out how to deal with: a speed bump on the way to happy relationship enlightenment.

Really, I hope people see this as a sign that something needs to be addressed and not to just “deal with.” Why is it any different than going out “with the girls” or any other activity? If World of Warcraft is interrupting your home life such that you never have time for sex and the garbage rots in the corner, people say you need to get yourself off to a therapist before it ruins your marriage. Especially if you have children, you have no excuse for not staying involved enough in the household so things that need to get done do. And that also involves not alienating your spouse.

That’s what responsibility is about, responsibility to your family. And it has nothing to do with how many people you are having sex with. Where is The Mrs when The Mr gets to go out? You don’t need to have another partner to want to get out of the house.

I’ve thought about this a lot the past couple years, I don’t have to have children of my own to realize how much work it is. If E was around (often she was not) I would only suggest family-friendly activities. My intention was that sometimes R and I could let her have time for herself, although that never happened because he never told her. More often, I limited my time with R when she was home so he could be with his spouse and child while he had the chance. I did this with explicit explanation of why I felt it was important. I considered R to be part of my family and that meant having respect for his. Is that such a radical idea?

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