Jonathon van Maren reports for LifeSiteNews — Earlier this year, a Utah Republican put forward a bill to decriminalize polygamy, receiving unanimous consent almost immediately from a key Senate committee. At the time, I noted that this was unsurprising: Once marriage was redefined and placed in a panoply of morally acceptable romantic arrangements, it was only a matter of time before the number of partners would mean as much as the sex of the partners. Which is to say, nothing. Even promiscuous multi-taskers can demand that the government endorse and financially support their sexual arrangements.
The word “family” now has no readily available meaning, and as such, the goalposts are shifting accordingly. On July 1, the New York Times reported, the City Council of Somerville, Massachusetts “now grants polyamorous groups the rights held by spouses in marriage, such as the right to confer health insurance benefits or make hospital visits.” Councillor J.T. Scott, who proudly noted that this was most likely the first municipal ordinance of this sort in the country (although surely not the last), attempted to pretend that this was simply a recognition of the large extended families that were once so common.
“People have been living in families that include more than two adults forever,” Scott said. “Here in Somerville, families sometimes look like one man and one woman, but sometimes it looks like two people everyone on the block thinks are sisters because they’ve lived together forever, or sometimes it’s an aunt and an uncle, or an aunt and two uncles, raising two kids.” That gibberish aside, Scott says he knows of “at least two dozen polyamorous households in Somerville,” a city of only 80,000. Thus, the demand for formal recognition of fornication was pressing.
On Twitter, Ryan T. Anderson, scholar and author of What is Marriage and When Harry Became Sally, noted that this had been inevitable. He, and others, had predicted this before 2015’s Obergefell decision: “If the law redefines marriage to say the male-female aspect is arbitrary, what principle will be left to retain monogamy? If justice demands redefining marriage to include the same-sex couple, [what about] the throuple? Love equals love, after all.”
“Once the law and culture says the male-female aspect of marriage violates justice and equality,” Anderson added, “we haven’t ‘expanded’ marriage, we’ve fundamentally redefined what it is. And those redefinitions have no principled stopping point.”
The Somerville City Council passed the motion unanimously, and the author of the ordinance, Lance Davis, even attempted to defend it in libertarian terms. “I don’t think it’s the place of the government to tell people what is or is not a family,” he told the New York Times. “Defining families is something that historically we’ve gotten quite wrong as a society, and we ought not to continue to try and undertake to do so…Based on conversations I’ve had, the most important aspect is that the city is legally recognizing and validating people’s existence. That’s the first time this is happening.”
And as far as Davis is concerned, the more the merrier. If twenty people approach the city seeking to be registered as a collective domestic partnership, Davis is proud to facilitate that. “I say, well what if they do?” he said. “I see no reason to think that is more of an issue than two people.”
This new state of affairs (ahem) has created a raft of new opportunities for people, and Scott says that he has “been inundated by calls and messages all day, including from lawyers interested in pursuing a similar measure at the state or federal level.” Because the ordinance does not specify that a romantic relationship is necessary, some people have already considered using it to “platonically” partner up. As the New York Times observed:
The status would allow them to buy a house together and share benefits, like health insurance, but also to have outside romantic partners, or add a third “nesting partner” if they wished. Ms. Taylor said they had long held back from registering as domestic partners because the language her workplace used seemed to require that they be romantic partners. “That has not felt right, so we haven’t done it,” she said. “Somerville is coming out and saying, ‘Hey, family can be a lot of other things, other than just two people.’”
Once again, a government body is throwing its weight behind a new definition of family—and making a moral statement in the process. By claiming that we do not know what a “family” is, they are claiming we cannot know what a family is—and that, by definition, means it is whatever you want it to be. After all, if gender is fluid, why not marriage?