by Brian Flaherty
But it is about sex… a brief digression.
A while back I was browsing the Vancouver Sun, & I came across the following headline: Polyamorists want court to declare group love legal. Wait, what?! Not polygamists, but polyamorists. No lawsuit to sanction multiple marriages – no, the court has been asked to stop cracking down on Canadian citizens living in dangerous harmony in threes, fours and mores. It turns out that Canada, too, is not exempt from wacky morality-based restrictions on sexuality. Canadian Criminal Code section 293 reads in part:
Every one who practices or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into any form of polygamy, or any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction [such a] relationship [can be punshed up to five years in prison.]
The responsible legal researcher in me would tell you how the case got to the court and why the law is bat-shit crazy – but in legalese. But you can read all of that stuff here, at the Canadian Polyadvocacy site. No, where I go with this is into the second paragraph of the Sun article, where John Ince, counsel for the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association tell me that the lawsuit “is non-sexual, and based on love (amore), not sex.” That’s where I begin to get a little fussy – and so this is where I digress…
OK, I get it – the root of Polyamory is amore, love – and that it has to do with forming committed relationships and not just tricking around with whoever happens to be in your field of vision at the moment. But was it absolutely necessary to say that it was “not about sex?” Can’t we qualify that even a little bit? Not just about sex, not exclusively about sex…must we desexualize every movement, un-sex all advocacy in the name of tepid acceptance? In the name of dressing up for prime time (for fear that the Vancouver Sun would NEVER print something about a committed, loving, and sexual poly relationship), I fear that Mr. Ince may have left some members of poly families feeling just a bit deflated.
I cannot help but think about the progress of Gay Pride parades around the country. I remember going to pride parades years ago where there was more outrageousness, more music and dancing, more floats, more SEX for heaven’s sake. Now.. well, I’m pleased at the growth of groups like the “Bisexual Librarian Fathers Association,” but they’re not the stuff of a rollicking fun parade. Further, I don’t want to cheer their coming out, to the exclusion of the float with the scantily clad transvestite bo-peep herding and hurting her leather clad sheep. A movement, a celebration, especially one based on sexual preference, must unambiguously include the overtly sexual. And if a lawsuit to defend the rights of those in multiple conjugal unions does not explicitly include those for whom ‘conjugal union’ has sexual connotations, it cannot explicitly exclude them.