Stanley Kurtz of the Hudson Institute has a long and interesting analysis in this week’s Weekly Standard on the Dutch “trio marriage” that was reported on the Brussels Journal (BJ) three months ago. The marriage between Victor de Bruijn and his two “wives,” Bianca and Mirjam, was not a case merely of polygamy, but one of polyamory, Kurtz explains. Contrary to bigamous/polygamous relationships, where one person has a sexual relationship with multiple partners, polyamory denotes a relationship in which all partners have sexual relations with one another. This is the case in the Dutch trio-marriage, where the partners sleep in the same bed and where the two women, who are bisexual, have sex with Victor as well as with each other.
In this respect the de Bruyn marriage differs from the relationship of the Belgian Serge Régnier, which was recently reported in the Belgian press (Het Laatste Nieuws, 17 November) and which is also referred to in the Kurtz article. Régnier lives with three women, but sleeps with each woman separately, while the latter (two of whom are sisters) do not engage in lesbian sex. This is an instance of traditional polygamy, as it is practised by some Mormons and Muslims, and also – one might argue – by Western men who have mistresses (though in that case the women do not live under the same roof, let alone share the same bed).
Traditional polygamy entails problems of its own. According to some French officials the recent French riots were caused by the fact that France has an estimated 30,000 polygamous families, in which fathers hardly look after their offspring. Paul Belien twice made the point on BJ that he does not find the so-called slippery slope argument, which says that gay marriage will almost automatically lead to polygamy, convincing “for the simple reason that polygamy is more ‘natural’ than homosexuality. The case of Victor and his two women,” Belien said, “is a mixture of both” and hence, he stressed, “morally distinct from the traditional polygamy of the Muslims.”
As Stanley Kurtz convincingly argues, however, the slippery slope following gay marriage will lead to polyamory rather than traditional polygamy, because “what gay marriage is to homosexuality, group marriage is to bisexuality:”
Polyamorists would call the De Bruijn union a ‘triad.’ In a polyamorous triad, all three partners are sexually connected. This contrasts with a three-person ‘V,’ in which only one of the partners (called the ‘hinge’ or ‘pivot’) has a sexual relationship with the other two. So the bisexuality of Bianca and Mirjam classifies the De Bruijn union as a polyamorous bisexual triad. In another sense, the De Bruijn marriage is also a gay marriage. The Bianca-Mirjam component of the union is gay, and legalized gay marriage in Holland has clearly helped make the idea of a legally recognized bisexual triad thinkable.
It is notable, Kurtz observes, that apart from the conservative blogosphere, which picked up the BJ article about the Dutch trio marriage en masse, the American media devoted no attention to this story. This is significant, he explains, as “of course, the mainstream American press understands that the triple Dutch wedding cannot be spun in a way that helps the cause of same-sex marriage with the American public.” What also strikes him is the fact that in the Netherlands the triple marriage barely caused a ripple. Apart from the conservative religious fringe, the secular Dutch did not protest. On the contrary, Victor and his wives were welcomed by their neighbours, while Piet Hein Donner, the Dutch minister of Justice and a Christian-Democrat, not only refused to dissolve the contract between the polyamorous triad, but even “articulated the rudiments of a ‘conservative case for group marriage.’”
The Dutch seem to be shocked more by the Belgian Serge Régnier, who lives under one roof with his three (heterosexual) women and (so far) 30 children. Régnier is very proud of his offspring – the eldest of whom is 19 – but finds it “hard to remember all of the birthdays.” He and his wives are hoping for lots more children. To the secular mindset such a pro-birth attitude is considered to be more out of touch with the zeitgeist than a polyamorous relationship without an abundance of children. The reason why Régnier, after four years of marriage to his (first) wife, took a second woman (his wife’s unmarried sister) was exactly because the latter wanted to have children, and not, as in Victor de Bruyn’s case, because the two women felt sexually attracted to each other.
Under Serge’s roof the women, later joined by a third (unrelated) one, live like sisters sharing one man who is the patriarch of the household, while under Victor’s roof they live like lovers sharing a man who is on equal terms with them. Patriarchy is considered to be a thing of the past, while equality is the current norm. Moreover, procreational sex is considered to be outdated, while recreational sex is part of the modern way of life.
All this leads one to suspect that the crisis of traditional marriage that we are witnessing in Europe and America may at heart be a crisis of fatherhood. This thought occurred to me recently, during the debates in the Belgian Parliament aimed at legalising adoption by gay couples. Belgium was the first country after the Netherlands to legalize gay marriage. Now the battle is on for the right of gay couples to adopt children. The bill to make this possible has already passed the House of Representatives and is being debated in the Senate. As a member of the Belgian House of Representatives, I received letters from activists, including one from a married lesbian couple who asked me to vote in favour of gay adoption because they each have a daughter. The girls were both conceived through artificial insemination with sperm from the same male donor. “We ensured that our daughters are of the same anonymous donor,” the two women wrote, “so that they are related. They are sisters.” However, as adoption by gay couples is not possible yet, they do not have the same surname, which is not logical for two sisters. Hence, the lesbian mothers were asking me to correct an illogical situation which resulted from the state’s prior approval of artificial insemination of women without (male) husbands and of homosexual marriage.
In this specific relationship, where two married lesbians each have a baby girl by the same donor, the two daughters could later also “marry” each other and each have a daughter through artificial insemination. What they are doing is establishing an all female nuclear family that does not need any male presence or influence. They are living according to a longstanding feminist ideal which envisages the total destruction of every male influence in society – the dream which radical feminists such as Bella Abzug worked to establish. According to Abzug and her followers the two sexes – male and female – do not exist. Instead there are five genders – male, female, homosexual, lesbian and bisexual. People can move from one gender to another, according to choice or at will, which liberates them from the sexual constraints of nature.
Since the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held in Beijing in September 1995, the word “sex” has been replaced in official texts throughout the world by the word “gender.” At Beijing an international agenda was drawn up with an accompanying action programme of moving “towards the common goal of gender equality around the world,” “undertaking statistical gender analysis and mainstreaming a gender perspective in policy development and the implementation of programmes” and working “to break down persistent gender stereotypes.” Every year, the government in Belgium (as those of all other countries) is obliged by law to submit a report to Parliament outlining what progress it has made in implementing the Beijing action programme.
Every year, in the Autumn, members of the parliaments of various European countries meet to compare how far their respective countries have advanced towards the common goal of gender equality. One of the Beijing objectives is to “adopt all appropriate measures, especially in the field of education, to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, and to eliminate prejudices, customary practices and all other practices based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes and on stereotyped roles for men and women.” It is clear that the polygamous Régnier household conforms to the “stereotyped roles” and “cultural patterns of conduct of men and women,” while the polyamorous de Bruijn household does not.
The Beijing agenda has permeated the way our society thinks. This programme was not carried out overnight, but proceeded on a step by step basis. To me, as a politician who has witnessed the process unfold since 1995, and has attended some of the annual gatherings of European politicians, there is no doubt that a planned agenda is being implemented. After the acceptance and legalisation of homosexuality, the promotion of bisexuality is the next step.
As Stanley Kurtz writes:
The worldwide campaign for gay marriage seems to have stirred up an active bisexual movement in its wake. Bisexuals have traditionally been one of the least visible components of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) alliance. After a flurry of publicity in the 1970s, at the height of the sexual revolution, bisexuality faded from public view. Yet the 1990s brought new attention, with articles in Time and Newsweek touting the emergence of bisexuality as a distinctive and politically tinged identity (and linking bisexuality to nonmonogamous marriage). In recent years, websites, books, and academic studies devoted to bisexuality have proliferated. [...] Precisely because the personal challenges confronting bisexuals are profound, the emerging bisexual call for polyamorous marriage is going to take on formidable legal force. In a world fully accepting of gay marriage, it will be difficult to withhold equal standing from another organized sexual minority.
Kurtz concludes that
It’s easy to imagine that, in a world where gay marriage was common and fully accepted, a serious campaign to legalize polyamorous unions would succeed – especially a campaign spearheaded by an organized bisexual-rights movement. Yet win or lose, the culture of marriage will be battered for years by the debate. Just as we’re now continually reminded that not all married couples have children, we’ll someday be endlessly told that not all marriages are monogamous (nor all monogamists married).
Americans who want to know what the future has in store need only look to Europe.
First Trio “Married” in the Netherlands, 26 September 2005
A Marriage Made Up, 14 October 2005
Dutch Minister Not to Prevent Polygamy, 1 November 2005
Too Many Wives Causes Unrest, 16 November 2005
Polygamy All Over the Place, 16 November 2005