A recent Telegraph article entitled “Married Lesbian Threesome Expecting Their First Baby in July” might have been found in a tabloid ten years ago, but now its contents are less than shocking. While only two of the three women are actually legally married, the three live in common and have contrived to be as legally bound as possible. One of the women is expecting “their” first child, with the help of an anonymous sperm donor.
Considering the many different living arrangements found in modern culture, their situation does not actually seem that extraordinary. Certainly there are many who think that the only unusual aspect of their arrangement is that this polyamorous lesbian relationship cannot be legally contracted as a marriage, at least not yet.
In several respects, this relationship is not all that different from legal marriages today. By allowing the following common features of relationships to become normal, we have only fallen further down the slippery slope, upon which a three-way lesbian marriage seems the commonsense next step.
Lack of Permanence
Some might be concerned that the commitment between three women could not last. It is, after all, not a common arrangement. There are a multitude of potential issues ranging from sexuality and children to the daily juggling of a three-person relationship.
Yet, there seems to be no reason not to enter into “marriage”, as it is now commonly misunderstood, despite the risk of its future dissolution. After all, no fault divorce is now the norm in our country. While it may be the rare person who gets married expecting to get divorced, the Census reports that while 7.1% of the population got married in 2008, 3.5% got divorced. The knowledge that a marriage can be ended at any time for any reason lays the groundwork for more people to risk unconventional marriages who may have previously hesitated.
Conjugal Relations not Required
In Sacramental marriages, the couple consummates their vows through sexual union. Throughout history, sex has been an integral part of a religious and civil marriages. Through uniting to one another physically, the couple expressed their union and opened themselves to the possibility of children. Even in civil law, an annulment can often be granted if the man is discovered to be impotent and the marital act cannot be completed.
Of course, with the legalization of homosexual “marriage” in so many states, sexual complementarity is no longer a requirement. Suddenly, the very aspect that makes marriage different from a life-long friendship or any other relationship is taken out of the marriage equation. The Telegraph article details that “The threesome insist their relationship is like that of any normal couple: having breakfast with one another, watching TV after work and sharing a bed together.” Not too long ago, this claim would have been easy to refute. Naturally, this threesome is not like married couples – they cannot have conjugal relations that potentially result in the conception of children. Now, however, the threesome’s statement is not far off base and there is little that distinguishes them from other relationships besides their number.
The Ubiquity of IVF and Egg/Sperm Donation
Kitten, one of the threesome, is currently pregnant through a sperm donor with the use of one of her own eggs. The plan is that she will bear three children, perhaps using her “wives’” eggs for the other two pregnancies. Therefore, there could be a child for each of them. Their contrived attempts to create a family are understandable: Thinking of the many couples who long to have children but are unable, makes one realize that this threesome is not alone. And, yet, as so many have argued before, the donation of sperm means that every one of these women’s three children will be purposefully deprived of their biological fathers.
Although in-vitro fertilization and sperm/egg donation is commonly seen as a compassionate answer to infertility, studies such as My Daddy’s Name is Donor clearly show the ill effects of a generation deprived of a natural parent. Of course, not only are the children of homosexual parents deprived of a biological parent, they are also intentionally deprived of either a mother or a father figure.
The Evolution of Marriage
Those who seek to redefine marriage often argue that they only seek the next step in the evolution of marriage. Changing the definition of marriage to fit our own desires and conception of the institution is the sign of an advanced and tolerant society, they claim. And indeed, if we can change marriage to include homosexual couples, why not change the definition to include three people, or four, or five?
A New Normal
“Doll, Kitten and I may not be the norm but we are perfectly normal. We are simply people trying to live the life that we feel is best for us and we deserve the rights afforded to others,” says Brynn, one of the trio. Considering the ways in which we as a society have enabled marriage to be construed, it is hard to completely disagree with her. The slippery slope that we have created has led us to a lack of permanence and a lack of fertility in marriage; polyamorous marriages may well become the next kind of relationship to be included under the marriage umbrella.
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And, yet, if we admit all of these changes to the definition of marriage, what remains? If marriage cannot be set apart from other relationships by gender, number, fecundity, or permanence, why put value on the institution at all? Put another way in a question that Robert George and many others have been trying to get an answer to, “What do we mean by ‘marriage’, if not the lifelong, faithful union between a man and a woman?”
Of course, the Church has an answer to this question and it is that marriage is a relationship set apart for a particular purpose by God. The Catechism tells us that “”The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (CCC, 1601).
Though we can deny and redefine the definition of marriage countless times, the reality remains. It is only by returning to the fullness of what marriage is that a three-way lesbian relationship can be rejected as the new normal.