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Thursday, 28 February 2013
Page: 1391


Senator BERNARDI (South Australia) (19:51): Tonight I wish to place on the record some information regarding the formation of a group lobbying for polyamorist marriage. Three weeks ago Sydney's City Hub reported on the establishment of the Polyamory Action Lobby, or PAL. According to the article entitled, 'Polyamorists set up lobby group':

The lobby was set up not only to fight for legal rights, but also to challenge cultural misconceptions about polyamorous relationships.

… … …

The lobby contends there is no reason adults should not be able to form committed relationships with more than one person, and there is no evidence that smaller families are any better off.

… … …

As far as the law is concerned, the lobby said the government should not have the right to restrict consenting adult relationships based on love and respect.

“The legal, health and financial protections enjoyed by a spouse in a monogamous relationship must be extended to all partners in a family,” the spokesperson said. “A family should be about security, stability and love; not about its structure.”

And sure enough, PAL recently started a petition which reads:

The House of Representatives

For too long has Australia denied people the right to marry the ones they care about. We find this abhorrent. We believe that everyone should be allowed to marry their partners, and that the law should never be a barrier to love.

And that's why we demand nothing less than the full recognition of polyamorous families.

So here we have it: a polyamorist lobby group petitioning parliament to allow polygamous marriage. To some, five months ago this was inconceivable. Yet it should have been noted that former Justice Michael Kirby last year told the Senate inquiry into same sex marriage:

The question that is before the parliament at the moment is the question of equality for homosexual people. There may be, in some future time, some other question. The lesson in courts and in the parliament, I suggest, is that you take matters step by step.

Now a week ago the Polyamory Action Lobby launched its website. This website states that politicians on the left have buckled to pressure, 'sidelining the rights of the polyamorous community in their campaign for marriage equality'.

And isn't this the truth? When polyamorists' demands also to be allowed to marry were raised at the time of the Senate's inquiry into Senator Hanson-Young's Marriage Equality Bill, what was the response? On 21 May 2012 Senator Hanson-Young declared the Greens had a clear policy against support for polyamorous marriage. That was false.

On 6 June, outgoing Greens leader, Bob Brown, described polyamorous or multi-member marriages as, 'nonsense'. He said it 'never has been or will be our policy'. That, too, was false, because the Greens policy touting 'marriage for all', stated that the Greens would 'legislate to allow marriage regardless of sexuality or gender identity'. Is it any wonder that the Greens repudiation of polyamorist marriage caused such an outcry among Greens members and polyamorists who, until then, believed the Greens were also pushing for their rights? As one of Senator Hanson-Young's Facebook followers said:

The first time in a long time the Greens have disappointed me. I know that it might be politically expedient to cast us poly people out but true marriage equality should let the people getting married decide what their family looks like.

Meanwhile, the President of Bisexual Alliance Victoria, James Dominguez, excused Sarah Hanson-Young, saying:

If there is ever a popular movement to legalise poly marriage in the future, The Greens will be the first to lend their support, I guarantee it. A few poly people are angry with them for not expressing support, but I think we need to be realistic.

In other words, the Greens are pushing the boundaries of marriage, one step at a time.

But not all Greens and polyamorists want to let the matter rest there. The then Greens convener in the ACT, Simon Copland, wrote in the Sydney Star Observerthat 'marriage advocates from Australian Marriage Equality and the Greens recently'—came—'out strongly against the idea of polyamorous marriage'.

According to Copland, this is:

… part on an ongoing problem with the queer movement where people who don’t fit into the mainstream queer mould are being excluded from the debate, with claims that they are ruining our chances to reach equality.

He went on:

The institutional queer movement has become dominated by upper to middle class wealthy queer activists …

He went on that those people were 'ensuring a select few get equal access to heteropatriarchal systems'.

In November last year the City Hub reported that University of Sydney Greens on Campus convener, Brigitte McFadden, was introducing a policy at the National Union of Students national conference in December to support the recognition and acceptance of polyamorous relationships. The article said:

"The idea that love can only be between two people comes from the conservative definition of a ‘legitimate relationship’ between one man and one woman,” Ms McFadden said.

In response, the Greens New South Wales spokesperson on the status of women and sexuality and gender identity, Cate Faehrmann said her party did not support polygamous marriage. She said:

As a feminist, I have serious concerns about the implications of polygamy for women, particularly in some extreme elements of religious communities where polygamy is used to control, almost own, women.

Ms McFadden shot back, saying:

As a feminist, I have serious concerns about the implications of conservative rhetoric that dictates the type of relationships women can have with other people. If a woman wants to be in a relationship with a man and a woman and another man, why shouldn't she have the right to marry those partners.

Another Young Greens member, Rafi Alam, said the government had no place in restricting consensual relationships.

It is clear that the major reason for the recent formation of the Polyamory Action Lobby is the view that polyamorists have been let down by those on the left. The Polyamory Action Lobby's Facebook page says:

The Poly community has always been let down, even by supposedly left leaning political parties.

Another PAL post says:

We have a message for all those members of the same sex marriage movement who think they can get marriage by excluding us: Shame.

PAL then posted a link to a Daily Beast article entitled 'Gays against polyamory', which states:

Some members of the Australian Green Party believe that their party platform to support 'marriage for all' means that the party must support polyamorous marriage. Guess who disagrees? Gay marriage advocates…

Such is the hostility to the Greens and same sex marriage advocates who are now rejecting polyamorist marriage, this post elicited comments such as, 'Alex Greenwich'—from Australian Marriage Equality—'is either a clueless idiot or a lying scoundrel. Or both.'

Another posted:

Lying scoundrel more like. Cate Faehrmann was using the same line, though she knows better.

Clearly these polyamory advocates feel they have been led up the garden path by the Greens policy of 'marriage for all'.

But who is behind the Polyamory Action Lobby? PAL's president is Brigitte Garozzo. PAL's spokesman is Timothy Scriven. And Kieran Adair is also one of PAL's founders. And what do these militant polyamorists have in common? I will tell you. They are all associated with the Greens. Brigitte Garozzo, also known as Brigitte McFadden is listed as the contact officer for the New South Wales Young Greens at the University of Sydney. Timothy Scriven describes his political views as 'anarchism and revolutionary libertarian socialism', though the University of Sydney Greens Facebook page last year said:

Timothy Scriven is an active member of the Greens on Campus and on our executive.

I do not see any inconsistency between those two descriptions. Kieran Adair's Twibbon profile promotes the 2011 Greens New South Wales election campaign. Further, a 'Kieran Adair' said, on the New Matilda website when commenting on the 2011 annual Marxist conference, 'I don't identify as a socialist; I'm a Green.' As a matter of interest Mr Adair also supports the BDS campaign against Max Brenner coffee shops—another Greens obsession.

So there it is. This lobby group agitating for polyamorist marriage, and petitioning the parliament for polyamorist marriage, is run by a group of Greens activists. That would be concerning enough were it not for the fact that the Polyamory Action Lobby has received support from Australia's most influential polyamorist, Chris Ford. Mr Ford has been tagged the co-ordinator of the Sydney Polyamory Group. He has designed the webpages for polyamory groups all around Australia and he is the contact registrant for the website of the main polyamory organisation—Polyamory Australia.

Mr Ford recently said of the Polyamory Action Lobby—and this just gives the whole game away:

Now I have no problem with people taking a stand, or expressing a view. Have at it, as far as I am concerned. I do have a problem when they say they represent me, and I do have a problem when they represent a view that I think is counter productive to a cause that most people I know believe in. PAL would appear to—

be—

arguing for legal recognition of polyamorous relationships, a topic I would not argue against, however a conversation that right now would put us at odds with the campaign for marriage equality.

I think this bears repeating. Australia's most influential polyamorist said that this is: 'a cause that most people I know believe in. PAL would appear to be arguing for legal recognition of polyamorous relationships, a topic I would not argue against; however, it is a conversation that right now would put us at odds with the campaign for marriage equality.' There you have it. Polyamorous marriage is on the agenda.

Greens activists are now pushing publicly for it while other polyamorists are lying low, waiting to be the next cab off the rank—no doubt, I suspect, having been given a nod and a wink by other Greens, who are still advocating marriage for all.

It is worth noting that in the Netherlands the first civil union of three partners was registered in 2005. It is naive and wrong to think that the same push will not come to Australia.