Most of Cunning Minx's points on this show come from an article by Mistress Matisse (Poly bloggers have the best names) called You May Now Kiss the Bride and the Other Bride and the Other Bride and the Other Groom so I'll be discussing those first.
The Mistress' first point is about what constitutes Poly marriage
For starters, poly- marriage organizers would have to agree on a precise definition of what, exactly, poly marriage even is.[...] No matter how you phrased it, any workably pithy legal definition would necessarily exclude certain configurations of people. And poly people get uncomfortable at the idea of excluding people—it reminds us unpleasantly of monogamy. So that's a problem.This concern echoes a larger concern about what relationships are supposed to look like. In Polyamory we've worked hard to break away from the idea that relationships have a set model or standard. When I speak to classes or do presentations on Polyamory (this is something I actually get to do now! People ask me to come and talk about things for an hour and I get to do that!) I talk about something I call Polyamorous Theory. Basically this refers to the broader implications of Polyamory as opposed to the day-to-day scheduling and dish-washing arrangements that actually fill the time when you're dating multiple people. Polyamorous Theory functions similarly to Queer Theory but focuses specifically on relationship construction. As a movement, if you can call us that, we aren't trying to make standard Monogamous relationships but with three people instead of two, we're trying to blast down the "societally approved relationships" box wholesale and let every individual decide what kind of relationship they want to be in. If we're approaching marriage we should be doing it the same way.
Instead of bumping our heads together trying to decide what Poly marriage would look like, how about we agree on some legislative goals that benefit people in every different kind of Poly arrangement? Instead of pushing for marriage right away let's start by fighting against the laws that make our current arrangements illegal. In Wisconsin for example both adultery and bigamy are class 1 felonies as of 2006. These laws and others are specifically constructed in such a way that they cause legal problems for anyone in a Poly relationship that is married or has a married partner.
Additionally there are numerous other legal battles we could be fighting that don't look like marriage but allow for Polyamorous marriages to exist. Fighting to make kinship for the purposes of hospital visits based on the patient's desires rather than legal marriage or biological relation only would be a great start. Instead of trying to hop on the assimilationist bandwagon to share insurance why not fight for universal healthcare like other "developed" nations? The battle to overturn oppressive cohabitation laws is as important to Polyamorous relationships as any piece of paper handed over by a judge should be.
This leads into Mistress's second point
But let's say the poly community comes up with a way of defining "poly marriage." Then comes the price tag: It costs five bucks to file an initiative, but persuading voters to change the law in favor of poly marriage would take a lot of skillful and extremely expensive political marketing. How many gay/lesbian bars have I been to where a drag queen or a leather daddy had a microphone in hand and was working the tipsy crowd like a carnival barker for marriage-equality donations? Too many to count. Unfortunately, poly people are not oppressed enough to have our own bars. We only have potlucks, and no one drinks very much at those (although I have very much wanted to on the few occasions I attended one). I shudder at the idea of Obama-esque daily e-mails from Poly Marriage Now begging me for money. But fundraising infrastructure is key—and queers have it, poly people don't.There are a couple good points here: we don't have the money and we don't have the infrastructure to fight a marriage equality fight. I think we all know some people that do, though. As a member of the Queer community, and quite honestly a radical marriage resister (strong feelings, I finally mentioned this halfway in), I've been vocal about trying to get the Gay and Lesbian rights movement off their assimilationist kick and towards a push for real equality that serves poor Queer people of color, old homesteading Polyamorists, and affluent white Gay professionals equally. I'm not alone in this call, and a mass of activist Polyamorists joining the ranks of those already seeking broader reforms in numerous areas could help to shift attention of those with the momentum to those fights. Kinship agreements, decriminalization of alternative styles of family-building, there are a lot of groups already fighting these fights and we can serve as a bridge between them. Popular opinion may take money to move but there is already money going into issues that could really use more people to publicize, inform, and work towards them.
Finally Mistress Matisse raises the specter of Polyamorous divorce.
Now, a mortgage isn't a marriage license—although I probably could have gotten a divorce faster and cheaper than I could have sold one-third of a house. But I'm extremely glad now that I didn't make a legal and financial commitment to two other people that I would have had to dissolve while going through an intense emotional upheaval with one of them.I won't argue that divorce would just go away or stop being difficult if we'd only get over some particular cultural ideas. Okay, maybe it would, but even I don't have a solid idea for how that would come about. Instead I would argue that this still keeps the discussion in terms of the heteronormative marriage ideal, plus one. It's to no one's benefit trying to push people towards a shared house and a picket fence if that isn't what they want. It's to our benefit collectively to have that as an option available to us, but not to make it the only option that allows us access to whatever it is we expect to get out of marriage. Minx points out that she is personally too introverted to give up the free time she has living on her own. That's understandable, but she could still probably benefit from a law protecting her right to have sex with her married partner. She would probably benefit from a legal arrangement that allows all of the partners she chooses the ability to visit her in the hospital (as long as they gave her some free time between visits). She might even benefit from a multiple parents law if she decided that she has an interest in raising children. All of us should at least have these options available to us.
So should Polyamorous people be fighting for marriage? Probably not. Even aside from the points above marriage is already a broken institution for a lot of the people that are able to access it. Polyamorists would get far more out of addressing the inequalities inherent in laws based on family structure, expanding benefits given to married couples to more groups, and making sure that we aren't considered felons if we are married. Whether we're ready to become a real movement and fight for any of these things is an entirely different question.