Alors. Little Pittsburgh is currently moving toward a codified "Mutual Commitment Registry," which, though not legally binding, would presumably help cohabiting gay and straight couples attest to their relationship status for whatever domestic partner benefits their workplaces offered. That's no small potatoes; I can say from experience that the hoops through which you have to jump to prove that your boyfriend is really your boyfriend is really your boyfriend when trying to add him to your healthcare plan are a royal pain and a real impediment. Yet I'm struck, as usual when it comes to anything in the realm of gay marriage, by the ostentatious nod in the direction of the preservation of taboo:
To have their relationship listed, the couple must live within the city and fill out a "Mutual Commitment Affidavit." The statement pledges that they've been in "a committed relationship" for at least a year, and "intend to remain together indefinitely." They must also be at least 18 years old, not married or in another domestic-partner relationship, and "not related by blood closer than permitted for married couples."Against all the Ew!s in the audience, I'll ask it straight--you'll pardon the expression--out: if a couple of queer brothers or sisters, or a couple of queer cousins, want to bone, what's the rational basis for prohibiting them from doing it? The answer, I think you will find, is that there is no rational basis, but only an acculturated predisposition to finding incest yucky and inherently disgusting--exactly the same type of predisposition, I'll add, that formerly applied to faggotry itself.
The Kulturkampf Right terrifies the well-meaning Left with its hoary invocations of polyandry and man-on-dog-on-lizard-on-flea-on-amoeba group action, and so our advocates of gay marriage go far out of their way to make the perfectly preposterous assertion that the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples somehow fails to imply its extension to polygamous and bigamous groups, for example. Of course it implies the extension of such rights to such groups. The objection from the Right is that this constitutes innate immorality, and from the Left that it constitutes inherent coercion--that polygamous relationships by their very nature place women in a subordinate relationship (as if that were somehow not the case in "traditional" marriage). But to my mind allowing multiple valences in human relationships rather than a rigid insistence that the only meaningful sexual bond is a long-term, committed, monogamous pair-bonding, is precisely the sort of social disorder we ought to be sewing. I happen to know a trio of men who lived together in what they rather jokingly called trinogamy for quite some time, with what appeared from the outside to be a greater measure of happiness and emotional stability than I, for instance, found in my own monogamous couplehood.
A procedural objection to all this is that if we allow people to form almost any domestic arrangement that they desire, the multiplicity of arrangements will swiftly make it impossible for the state to administrate any meaningful system of rights and benefits, which are by their very nature exclusionary and particularistic. To which I reply: yes, exactly! "Traditional marriage" and the "traditional family" are units in a political economy. To turn a phrase: fuck the system.