So there appears to be quite the discussion in the UU Blogosphere on polyamory – that is, people who are not so much into monogamy (one partner) but feel okay with or pulled toward having more than one romantic partner or loves – poly (many) amory (loves). I posted on this a little while back, but not in the context of the independent affiliates discussion, which you can read about here and here.
The Lively Tradition has been the main poster (here too), with Boy in the Bands, Chalice Chick, Never Say Never to Your Traveling Self, Liberal Faith Development chiming in, and Philocrites referring us some of his older posts.
A lot has been said. I guess I just want to highlight the need for a parsing of two separate issues. One is if Unitarian Universalists should, as a movement, support legal rights for polyamorous folks, and/or should we spend our time and energy thinking and talking about the importance of this as a legal question.
The other issue is if it is possible for consenting adults to love and/or relate intimately to more than one other person at a time with honesty and integrity, and without causing harm to children involved in that relationship, and without somehow threatening the minimal social framework that keeps the universe as stable as it is (which is not very, but it could be worse). You get the idea – is polyamory just weird and bad and something to be avoided, or at the very least kept quiet, or can it be a reasonably normal, okay thing that is certainly not going to become the norm, but isn’t scary or weird or messing up kids.
As you can see, I am trying to move away from an ultra-careful phrasing of this, as so many people have taken a lot of time to do in the comments sections on some of the other postings. I’m trying to de-dramatize this a little bit, I suppose, but also I’ve never been one for treatises arguing super-logically, and rationally on every point because I don’t think this is how most people think.
Anyway, so what I’m trying to say is that I think folks on all sides of this need to be clearer about what they are talking about. The UUPA (Unitarian Universalist for Polyamorous Awareness) claims that their thing is about just that – awareness. The recognition that there are people in partnerships with more than one other person in our congregations, so we need to figure out a way to minister to these folks with love and care. I, naively, often take people at their word, it seems that there is actually a bit of a bigger agenda at least in parts of the UUPA. I am not all that familiar with how this bigger agenda has been communicated, but it seems like a lot of people are aware of it, and it has something to do with sort of taking the marriage/legal rights thing on in a similar way that the UUs did with same-sex marriage. That said, it seems like some who are not so pro-polyamory are conflating the moral/ethical questions related to polyamory automatically with whether or not this should result in legal recognition of marriage and/or whether or not UUs should take this on as a project.
So, in sum, all I am saying at this point is that this is a sticky issue, and it makes a lot of sense for everyone to be clearer about what they are talking about:
1) legal-rights/marriage/UUA-as-a-lobbying-organization/UUism-as-a-platform-for-political causes OR
2) the potential/reality of polyamory/multiple-partner-relationships to be ethical and just (and how, if at all, this relates to theological questions).
To me, these are separate issues because even if you think that poly relationships can be just lovely for all involved, it is another question whether you think that should be a legally recognized entity, and another one whether you think it is wise for our movement to somehow take this on as one of our “things”.
I have opinions on all of this, but I don’t feel like I have the patience to articulate it in a way that would suit anyone. Maybe another time.
I just hope everyone can be respectful and nice about this whole thing. I hate it when people get mean about things like this.
Much peace, Elizabeth