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Supreme Court of the United States

Polyamory! Why Not?

October 17, 2017

By: Jared Dobbs

Many Americans are surprised at the speed at which the sexual revolution has advanced. Looking over the horizon, the question naturally arises, “What comes next?”

We might not have to wait long for the answer, as the next cultural shift seems to be arriving: NPR recently surveyed polyamory in “A Cultural Moment for Polyamory,” an article discussing the advocates who are defending this practice.

The word polyamory means “many loves.” It is different from polygamy, where each marriage is like the spoke on a wheel: In that context, each marriage is between one man and one woman, but a man will have multiple marriages, each with another woman. In polyamory, however, there are many people—men and/or women—that are all in one relationship.

Not surprisingly, social liberals feel they must explain what distinguishes this development from total sexual anarchy. In polyamory, the rules are few and far between: Sex is not even a prerequisite for the relationship itself. The NPR article quotes Gaylen Moore who writes:

“I love two women, but ironically, I am currently in a monogamous sexual relationship with one of them . . . [Polyamory], at its core, is fundamentally about love. Sexuality typically follows from polyamorous love, but it is perfectly possible to be polyamorous and sexually monogamous at the same time.”

If the number of partners varies and sex itself is optional, what are the rules then? The most important rule according to a recent Wired article is to simply be honest, since “[t]ransparency is what separates polyamory from infidelity.” Transparency is quite a low bar, as it doesn’t even require consent from your current spouse, only an announcement: I shall express my true, honest desires—with another.

What does this mean for the law?

There is not currently a broad push to redefine marriage (again) to include polyamory (although that might be on the horizon), but Slate reported in March that a state court in New York has already redefined parenthood to fit polyamorous contexts. There, two women in a three-person polyamorous relationship broke away from the man in the relationship, and the woman who was not the child’s biological mother fought for joint custody and won.

The article notes that Judge H. Patrick Leis “determined that all three adults were in fact parents to the child—they had shown him love and been involved in his upbringing.” The judge’s ruling thus recognized that a child can have three legal parents at once, but such a troublesome development is contrary to what the law ought to recognize—that fathering and mothering arise naturally from the duties that the man and woman have to the child they created together.

The sexual revolution has most crucially changed how society understands our obligations to children. A bundle of random caregivers, moving, in accordance with their desires, in and out of a child’s life, is no replacement for the permanent, stable love of that child’s own mother and father.

Ironically, the further we unchain ourselves from true marriage, the clearer it becomes that children need exclusivity and permanence between their mother and father.


Marriage Is Our Children’s Best Hope for the Future


Alliance Defending Freedom remains committed to promoting the truth that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. We have documented the stories of adults who grew up with LGBT parents, and they all have one thing in common—as children they craved the love and presence of their missing mother or father. To watch their stories, visit the link below. 

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Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

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