Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What really happened with the Poly motion at the Green Party convention.

(Detailed informational links below)

I sent this blow-by-blow to a Green member list to give you some idea what happened from my own perspective. The Greens are fiercely democratic and any small group can put together a motion for us all to vote on and discuss. If you really want to make a difference in Canada, become a card-carrying Green! I can say that with upmost confidence...

And just for the record, the media really DO hear what they want to hear, and it's usually sensational. I said "I'm a member of the poly community" and "my husband will be most put out that I didn't consult him before I made these speeches." What I meant of course was I hadn't had time to give him a heads-up that I was exposing some of our private views in a public forum. What some bored and nasty reporters heard was a confession to having an affair! In a convention, no less! When a story isn't good enough, just make it up, I suppose... That's what can happen when you aren't using the same playbook... Definitions

This was entirely an internal democracy issue, and does not in any way reflect the Party's position on any other policy. Rather mundane, all things considered... The resolution was submitted by a small group of well-meaning students from York University who had heard of the criminalization of poly and wanted to do something about this obvious discrimination. They were not acting on anyone's behalf, they did not consult with the poly community ahead of time, nor they did not clarify the language in their motion. Though their hearts in the right place, they were in essence completely clueless to the implications of their motion to the community they wished to protect and the Party itself. http://greenparty.ca/blogs/15909/2010-08-22/polygamy-point-clarification

I have been a polyactivist long before I was a Green Party candidate, and therefore felt it was my duty to attend the workshop for this motion, since I was one of the few people who could speak reasonably to the problems at hand. One other Green polyactivist had come from even further away than I had to speak on the motion since it was so vital for him to address it. However, the resolution was so badly worded that the original motion was "decriminalize polysexual", which is something else entirely. I was able to help clarify the language somewhat, but in an hour and half, the learning curve was just too great to iron out all the flaws in the wording. I did my very best to ensure that the sponsors of the motion had some grasp of the issues involved, as well as the implications for the Party. They went with "Decriminalizing polyamoury", which is still correct, but not what they really intended. Polyamoury is only illegal if it's in a committed relationship, and usually living together. The more committed, the more illegal. If you're just sleeping around, that's just fine, but don't make families out of it. I'm pretty confident that the intent of the motion was to protect poly families, so the wording rather failed in that... We were able to make some progress with the motion which was then voted on and it was adequately reworked enough to survive a vote and present to the party, while doing damage control with the ham-fisted language and implications. It still did not cover what the sponsors originally wanted, but they didn't know enough to know that...

A few reporters arrived during the lively, if small, debate of about 20 people and we voted on whether they should be there. I saw nothing unusual in that, but this was my first BGM, and didn't know that it was not common. There was no "highjacking" by a small wing-nut group, nor was it a "closed session". The drama queens that started that rumour and convinced a reporter of that wild accusation should all know better. The Sun reporter asked me for an interview after the session, and I took the hit, since I was one of the most experienced members on this issue. I thought if she were going to get someone's thoughts on it, I'd do one of the best jobs. The story was very fair but exposed my private life far more than I had intended for national media, and the reporter in question has since apologized to me and retracted a bit of the story. She admitted later that even she didn't realize the implications of what the criminalization of this lifestyle can do to families and was hardily sorry for causing me such distress. I didn't even get a chance to consult with my husband on this great impact on his life, and I'm very grateful he's still talking to me, since none of our extended family knew anything about this before now.

When this motion was presented for plenary, obviously, now that my head was in the noose, it behooved me to speak. In for a penny and all... When it was my turn, I don't even remember which of the facts that I usually use in my improvised speech. I had had almost no time to prepare but I have so many points that I often discuss. I only had two minutes. I don't remember if I pointed out that nearly all Native cultures were almost entirely poly in some form or another before the imposition of Christianity and it's enforced monogamy. I know I was passionate about the impact on children who are taken from their homes or where custody is altered due to a parent's poly lifestyle, but I don't think I brought up other legal issues like family health insurance, estates, or who gets to visit in hospitals; the very same issues that the LBGT community had up until a very few years ago. I mentioned the monotheistic monogamy, as opposed to the polytheistic polyamoury, as well as the global and historic precedent for poly in nearly all traditional cultures. The human rights aspect of this cannot be understated, as it relates to religion, culture, language, and family groups, as well as so many legalities, I argued, but the problems of the wording of the motion could not be ignored. Though I very much supported the spirit, the language was inaccurate, incomplete, and did not reflect consultation with the community it was intended to protect.

Since we had voted down many motions that weekend already whose language were not adequate to the intent of the resolution, I knew that this one would also in all probability suffer the same fate, and I was not mistaken. The point may soon be moot, however, as the Charter challenge has been undertaken by the poly community in the newly formed Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. By the time it makes it to the Supreme Court of Canada, it should nicely co-incide with the next BGM and hopefully we won't be left behind in the dust of other parties shouting their support for poly and human rights. http://polyadvocacy.ca/

I also had the very great privilege of having the trust of many, many Greens coming out as poly to me after the resolution, but most will not take the step of identifying as such, since some are very highly placed in the Party. I think there are more polys in the Greens than most, what with our commitment to justice and all... Though rarely has anyone been charged, poly is still criminalized with draconian heavy-handed wording, so it is therefore considered immoral and none of them as yet will take the risk of coming out of the closet. Polys hide like rats as it is right now, and it's hard to get out of the habit, especially when your job, kids, extended family, and home are at risk. I also took on the task of answering the many questions on the motion posed to me by other Greens not in the community who wished to learn more and spent much of my time on that humble duty.

The dialog will not be stopped now and I am deeply honoured to have played my small part in these events by helping to move forward the conversation of poly rights in Canada. It has been a great strain on my family and our relationships but my work with the Greens has always been the most rewarding and effective work I have ever done.

If you wish further reading on the topic, I provide more links on poly cultures below. And please remember, that when any family from the many poly cultures around the world immigrates to Canada, they must give up more than those from monogamous cultures. They have to pick one spouse and their children, leaving the rest behind forever. More than two adults are unlawful, after all... I can't imagine how that *wouldn't* be a human rights issue, quite frankly...


Today, most Americans think of monogamy as the "normal" form of marriage. But as it turns out, strictly monogamous practices are in the minority. In fact, cultures that practice some form of polygamy outnumber monogamous cultures by the hundreds [ref]. http://people.howstuffworks.com/polygamy.htm




Poly orgs and groups in North America:







Poly blog: