So "throuples" are now a thing... and have been for a while

There’s apparently a show on the HGTV network called House Hunters and it suddenly began trending on social media last week when the hunters in question turned out to be a throuple. And no, Katie Hill wasn’t part of the group. But the episode spurred yet another debate about the evolving nature of relationships, marriage, fidelity and all the rest. (NBC News)

Earlier this week, viewers of HGTV’s popular show “House Hunters” watched in shock — and a bit of awe — as a polyamorous “throuple” searched for a new home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“Buying a house together as a throuple will signify our next big step as a family of five, rather than all four of them plus me,” said Angelica, referring to her partners Lori and Brian and their two biological children. “I didn’t plan on being in a relationship with a married couple, but it just happened very naturally, organically.”

During Wednesday’s episode, Brian revealed the trio tied the knot, so to speak, a few weeks ago in Aruba.

So the three people in question aren’t all legally married of course. That’s still illegal everywhere in the United States. But the original couple are and they then added a second woman in a “commitment ceremony” in Aruba. The entire concept probably seems odd to a lot of us, but since it’s happening around the country it’s worth looking at from both a moral and legal perspective.

First of all, Katie Hill didn’t invent polyamory. The idea has been around through all of recorded history, though traditionally frowned on in most of the major religions. Everyone has their own gut reactions to it, I’m sure. Personally, I never could have pictured seeing myself in that type of situation. I find attending to the needs of one woman a full-time job for the most part and even assuming I met a second one who was willing to put up with my nonsense (in a hypothetical situation where my wife didn’t immediately go all Lorena Bobbitt on me the moment I suggested it) it would probably exhaust me. And as for the idea of sharing my wife with some other guy, well… let’s just say that’s a non-starter and I don’t swing in that direction anyway.

But as much as part of me really hates to admit it, and knowing full well how unpopular this particular take will probably be, perhaps we should be taking a fresh look at the wisdom of and necessity for bigamy laws. There certainly seems to be a strong parallel between this and the entire gay marriage question. Anyone who objects to polyamory on religious grounds is clearly entitled to that position. But as I’ve written here on more occasions than I can count, I still hold to the small-government approach to such questions and don’t feel that it’s the government’s place to regulate or tax private relationships between citizens that don’t directly impact anyone else.

With that in mind, is there a rational basis for limiting via legislation the number of people who can get married if everyone is a consenting adult? And before you point it out, I’m fully aware that I’m now demonstrating the slippery slope that many people warned of during the gay marriage debates. This was a point that conservative law professor Robert P. George made shortly after the HGTV show aired.

Unless we plan on banning even unmarried throuples from living together or “doing the deed,” there are some concerns raised by how bigamy laws impact these people. As the NBC article points out, using quotes from a different legal professor, the third person in the relationship is in a very precarious position because she has no legal standing in the “marriage.” In questions of divorce, child custody, inheritance and a host of other possible complications, the legal spouse would hold all the cards in any sort of court proceeding.

As I said, I’m wavering quite a bit when considering this. I find the entire concept of polyamory personally worrisome, to say the least. But if one is willing to make the small-government argument in favor of gay marriage, it seems that it would be hypocritical not to extend the same defense to those who somehow find a polyamorous lifestyle manageable. And if you wish to see judgment passed on those engaged in such relationships, it might be better to have it coming from the pulpit rather than a legislative chamber.