Deep down inside, the Raelian cloners are just a bunch of good-hearted liberals. Liberals love to tweak conservatives when some Right-wing nut starts bombing people or spewing hate. But the Raelians are definitely children (if not clones) of the Left. The Raelian website is filled with paeans to nonviolence and world peace. Tolerance, we are told, is not enough. Instead we have to actively “love differences,” be they “racial, cultural, religious, sexual or genetic.” The Raelian platform includes provisions for a guaranteed minimum income, free medical care, abolition of the death penalty, and the establishment of a democratic world government. Oh, and by the way, the Raelians are polyamorists — advocates of group sex, and of state-sanctioned group marriage.
Whether the Raelians have actually cloned a human being or not, this little flap reminds us of the way in which a seemingly marginal group can open a Pandora’s box for society at large. In fact, the Raelians have already made headway against a psychological barrier, even if their clone turns out to be imaginary. A little ways down the road, the de facto destruction of marriage through legally recognized polygamy and/or polyamory may be the next big change ushered in by apparent social outliers.
The Raelian website features a brief description of its courses in “sensual education.” But a well-publicized newspaper story gives the details: “[Raelians] can have heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual sex in couples, threesomes, foursomes, and “moresomes.” Apparently, Raelians flock to the sect’s Canadian headquarters for “free love orgies.” No surprises there. Any self-respecting cult from the Sixties or Seventies (Rael’s first encounter with space aliens was in 1973) ought to furnish its members with opportunities for group sex. But this being a new century, it’s time to go further and seek legal recognition. Here is Article 10 in the Raelian movement’s revised version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Each human being has the right to engage in any type of relations with others as he/she wishes, be they of homosexual or heterosexual nature provided that these relations are established between consenting adults, no matter how many adults are involved. These unions, and possible separations, must also be legally recognized by our society and free of any discrimination.
Nicely done! Not only must multiple sexual unions be legally recognized as marriages, but discrimination against the polyamorists next door is banned. And we already know that tolerance isn’t enough. Group marriage, be it heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, is one form of difference we’re going to have learn to “actively love.”
Let us stipulate that the Raelians are a bunch of nuts. (As a stick-in-the-mud conservative, I’m willing to tolerate them. “Actively loving their differences” will have to wait.) But there’s an obvious method to the Raelians’ madness. Take away the bits about aliens engineering our DNA, and the Raelians are committed to an only slightly shallower than usual version of Left-liberal utopianism. As such, the Raelians remind us that, just like cloning, demands for legalized polyamory are only a few steps down the road. And just like the (slightly saner) organized polyamory movement itself, the Raelians obviously link the quest for state-recognized polyamory with the demand for gay marriage. That link is not only present in the Raelians’ support for homosexual and bisexual polyamory, but in the report that the second cloned baby will be born to a lesbian couple.
After gay marriage has been legalized, it’s only a matter of time before we are peppered with demands to take the next logical step. I don’t expect the critical legal cases to be filed by the Raelians. Stranger things have happened, though, as the cloning flap indicates. Given the legal road we’re headed down, if the Raelians do decide to get into the polyamory-legalization business, their arguments could have an even greater chance of success than their cloning efforts. Nonetheless, the important challenges will likely come from organized polyamorists (who have already pressed one legal case), and from breakaway Mormon polygamists in the southwest. Tom Green’s 2001 polygamy case, after all, received backing from so mainstream an organization as the ACLU. It may take some years to come to fruition, but once gay marriage is legalized on rights-based grounds (the same sort of grounds already used to mandate civil unions in Vermont), at least one plank in the Raelian platform will become a reality. (And if the cloning turns out to be real, we could face what might be the most lovable “difference” of all: Clones marrying each other in groups!)
Once legal, would polygamy/polyamory spread beyond a few marginal movements? Hard to say, but as the polyamorists point out, an interest in having sex with more than one partner is not exactly unheard of. In fact, restraining that desire, and the damage it can do to our families, is a central purpose of marriage itself. Polyamorists, by the way, are convinced that Bill Clinton is a closet (or maybe not so closet) “poly.” The extent to which legalized group marriage would actually catch on is tough to predict. What’s not hard to predict, however, is that the legalization of group marriage, even on a relatively small scale, would effectively destroy the meaning and purpose of marriage itself. Yet that is the future we face, once legalized gay marriage opens up the gates to all rights-based redefinitions of marriage. Clone group marriage anyone?
— Stanley Kurtz is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.