(thePublicDiscourse) – Recently, I had a discussion about marriage with someone who calls herself a “Darwinian gay feminist.” I asked her, “Is there any principled reason that marriage should be limited to only two people? There is now such a thing as a ‘throuple’—a three-way relationship. Should they have a right to marry?” She replied, “A union between three consenting adults? I see nothing wrong with it. The same goes for incest. It’s none of my business.”
I take it that she was serious in her response. Given that she believes marriage should be redefined to include same-sex couples, I suppose that makes sense. If marriage is just an emotional and loving union focused on satisfying the desires of adults, then including three or more members in this union is only logical. But her position seems to discount the fact that there might be more than just consenting adults involved. What about children who are raised by three- or four-person groups?
This isn’t just a hypothetical question. Last April, the New York Post published a story with this headline: “Married lesbian ‘throuple’ expecting first child.” The youngest member of the throuple and the biological mother, Kitten, said, “The three of us have always wanted kids and wanted to grow our family.” This might be their desire, but is this right for children? Is being raised by a throuple good for children?
I am particularly sensitive to this question, because my own childhood gave me a glimpse of what it is like to be raised in such a household.
Let me explain.
I grew up in a household living with not only my mother and father, but also my half-brother and his mother. My father had two kids: one with my mom (me) and one with another woman (my half-brother, who was three months older than I). When my mother was not there, I would see my father and my half-brother’s mother kiss and cuddle. When my half-brother’s mom wasn’t there, I would see my mother and my father kiss and cuddle. Although I was very young, these images still remain with me.
My mother and the mother of my half-brother were best friends. When they were in their late teenage years, they came from Guatemala together to the United States and developed a bond on their journey. My half-brother and I got along very well, but having the same father yet different moms in the household was confusing and troubling. It was confusing and troubling for me because I was never the center of my father’s attention, especially when he would mistreat my mom and when he would show affection to my half-brother’s mom. I hated seeing my father show affection to another woman who was not my mom.
When I was six years old, my father broke off ties with all of us and started a new family with a third woman. It was at this point that my half-brother’s mother and my mother went their separate ways. From that point onward, my mother raised me by herself.