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Bisexuality, Slippery Slopes, and Multipartner Marriage

Klesse, Christian (2018) Bisexuality, Slippery Slopes, and Multipartner Marriage. Journal of Bisexuality, 18 (1). pp. 35-53. ISSN 1529-9716


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This paper explores the position of polyamory in slippery-slope arguments directed against the campaign for same-sex marriage rights in the United States. In the rhetoric of right-wing opponents granting same-sex marriage rights is seen as the first step on a long spiral downwards toward moral decay, which will successively normalise a whole range of problematic and ‘unwanted’ practices. Polygamy and, in its close proximity, polyamory are usually the first items on a list that may also include adultery, adult incest, bestiality and pedophilia. The paper highlights the mobilisation of racist and nationalist tropes at the heart of anti-polygamy sentiments and considers the impact of this legacy for poly politics. Concentrating on the analysis of essays published by the Conservative journalist Stanley Kurtz, the paper explores the connection between bisexuality and polyamory in some slippery slope arguments. Slippery slope arguments have been a constant feature of the debates about same-sex marriage rights in the USA. Their relative prominence and strong hold within the public imagination have also impacted upon the discourses deployed by poly activists, resulting in common dis-associations from polygamy and an a reluctance to engage with questions regarding the legal recognition of multi-partner relationships at all. Understanding the slippery slope dynamic is important for grasping the conditionality that contributes to the persisting hostilities against polyamory, polygamy, and LGBTQ intimacies and that shape social movement politics.

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