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Coming out of the bigamy closet

From the Brussels Journal:

The Netherlands and Belgium were the first countries to give full marriage rights to homosexuals. In the United States some politicians propose “civil unions” that give homosexual couples the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage. These civil unions differ from marriage only in name.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands polygamy has been legalised in all but name. Last Friday the first civil union of three partners was registered. Victor de Bruijn (46) from Roosendaal “married” both Biance (31) and Mirjam (35) in a ceremony before a notary who duly registered their civil union.

What is not entirely clear is whether the same civil union document covers all three, or if Victor essentially married Biance and Mirjam separately and simultaneously from a legal point of view. In other words, did they have to use of two legal documents to get all three names recorded? A proper polygamy document would have spaces for all the names, and would establish some sort of legal connection between the wives instead of only between each wife and the husband.

In the first case, with two documents, what we have a legally tolerated bigamy, which is not the same thing.

The photograph was labeled "bigamie" with make me suspect the use to two separate documents.

Now this is important. One of the driving issues for legalizing same-sex marriage was the (admittedly legitimate) concern that without some sort of formal legal recognition, one same-sex partner might find it difficult to act on the other's behalf in case of incapacitation, as an example. Well, if Victor is away in Spain on business (interviewing more wives for example), and Biance falls ill, Mirjam has no legal status with regards to Biance to make decisions concerning her medical care. Of course, this being the Netherlands, this might be telling the doctors not to pull the plug at the first sign of the sniffles.

Another issue will be children. In a bigamous relationship, Biance would have no legal status over the children born of Mirjam and Vitcor, and vice versa. However, the children will be related by blood. If the "marriage" dissolves, each child will have to get a paternity test to make sure they end up with the right wife. Visitation rights would have to be negotiated for the children to visit their half-siblings, which may or may not be in the interests of the wives, suggesting that the children would have to have legal representation separate from their mothers.

On the other hand, if the three-way marriage is recognized as such, status for each wife over the other's children could be established in a legal sense. That would be important for divorces, as well as decisions for medical care, signing documents as a legal guardian, and so on and so forth.

I bring these points up because at some point, someone else will. Then there will be the agitation of these threesomes to come out of the bigamy closet and be legally recognized as a three-way relationship. Well, three-way, four-way, whatever. Every member of the troupe will have status defined with regards to every other partner. Marriage certificates will include a "supplementary" form that starts with "Add additional names from previous supplementary sheet."

And it will come to Canada.

How do I know? Because of the Google ads running on this page, three of the four were for homosexual marriage services in Canada. For Google, it was obvious that one leads to the other. [OK, that was an attempt humour. I don't use Google ads as a research tool!]

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