by Andrea Moury
If you think that the legalization of polyamorous marriage in the US is a distant reality, think again. In Colombia, where same-sex marriage was legalized just over one year ago, the first three-person single-sex marriage has already been legally recognized.
Hugo Prada, John Alejandro Rodriguez, and Manuel Jose Bermudez, the newly married “throuple,” say they would have entered into an even larger group marriage had their fourth partner not died from cancer.
Prada celebrated the legal recognition of his new marriage, the first of its kind in Colombia.
We wanted to validate our household . . . and our rights, because we had no solid legal basis establishing us as a family. This establishes us as a family, a polyamorous family. It is the first time in Colombia that has been done.
The path towards government recognition of this polyamorous gay marriage took off in 2001, when Colombia legalized polygamy. In 2011, Colombia made it legal for same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, and in 2016, Colombia legalized gay marriage by declaring that laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Sound familiar?
Here in the US, the movement is going in reverse, but to the same ending point. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, while legal recognition of polyamorous marriage is yet to come. As Colombia has realized, the two are fundamentally connected, because once marriage is redefined as anything besides a union of one man and one woman, there is little reason to confine marriage merely to two persons.
Acceptance of polyamory in the US has skyrocketed in the past decade. In 2006, a Gallup poll found that 5 percent of Americans thought polygamy was morally acceptable. Less than ten years later, by 2015, that number had more than tripled reaching 16 percent.
Popular support is not what polyamory in the US ultimately depends on, however. Just like gay marriage did, it will come down to a Supreme Court decision. Polyamory advocacy groups such as Practical Polyamory and Loving More are hopeful that the groundwork has already been set for that decision.
Immediately after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, proponents of polyamory found hope in Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent. Roberts warned his colleagues that legalizing gay marriage would make it difficult for them to refuse to legalize polyamory.
Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.
How long will it take for Roberts’ prophecy to be fulfilled through the legalization of same-sex polyamorous marriage in our own country? In Colombia the whole process took just 15 years. And here, it may not be far behind.