This first appeared at Can’t Steer Queer, a new project that I’ll be writing for occasionally.
Mike Huckabee is afraid that marriage equality will lead to bisexuals marrying multiple partners. And you know what? He is right in some respects. Marriage equality will likely lead to a reevaluation of what marriage is at the government level and people will begin to realize that limiting it to two people is arbitrary and unnecessary. This isn’t because of bisexuals though, and it is important for us to combat the bisexual stereotypes that Huckabee is reinforcing.
Being bisexual does not preclude someone from monogamy. There is no reason to believe that a bisexual person, by their nature of being attracted to both sexes, are any more polyamorous than monosexuals. A bisexual is just as capable of resisting the temptation to cheat as someone somewhere else on the sexual orientation spectrum. Sexual orientation and relationship orientation are not the same thing and many bisexuals identify as being heteroromantic or homoromantic, meaning they only desire romance or relationships with one gender.
The bigger question isn’t whether bisexuals will lead to legal polyamory, it is what is wrong with recognizing legal polyamory? We are heading that way but it isn’t a never-ending “slippery slope”. It actually stops at legal polyamory because that is simply allowing all consenting adults to arrange their romantic relationships as they see fit with equal rights. It is individualism at its finest as every person will be able to design relationships with consenting adults in a way where everyone can thrive. This won’t lead to people marrying animals, children, or inanimate objects, none of which can consent.
This will certainly make the legal system more complicated, but we shouldn’t reject people’s rights simply for convenience. Huckabee’s worry that this will somehow destroy society is really a great peek into how his type of conservative actually thinks. To people like Huckabee the government’s role isn’t to protect rights or obey the Constitution, it is to provide a stable society based around his interpretation of Judeo-Christian values. To him, progress should never happen because we can’t make changes without the proper data. Data that can never be collected without some experimentation. It also shows how fragile he seems to view society and his own marriage if allowing around 3% of the population to marry would somehow disrupt society so much as to bring about it’s downfall.
Conservatives have at least one strong way to end marriage equality, get the government out of marriage. This can simply be down by turning all marriages into “civil unions” and keeping the rights and protections intact. If the word marriage is sacred to someone then they should remove the state entirely but attempting “separate but equal” won’t work practically and is a failing tactic. If you want to be married then have a religious ceremony, but if you want your contract to be honored by the government then have a civil union.
Despite all the terrible stereotypes and fear-mongering there is a silver lining in Huckabee’s statement, he actually acknowledges that bisexuals exist. This may seem small but bi-erasure is something that has existed for a long time as bisexuals were viewed as only experimenting or homosexuals who were not comfortable completely coming out of the closet. If a conservative can admit bisexuals exist, and even admit that marriage equality may not be that big of a deal, then I count this misinformed statement as a partial victory.