Role Playing


National Organization for Marriage

Dear Marriage Supporter,

Sometimes, a married couple in trouble will seek counseling and be encouraged to "role play" during the session. They try to step into one another's shoes and see things from the angle and point of view of the other.

This can be a useful technique for improving understanding and communication in a relationship. But it also hints at a fundamentally important reality about families: moms and dads play distinctly different and important roles, and both are worthy of appreciation in the unique parts they play, in their marriage and in their relationships to their children.

This role playing wouldn't have any value if there wasn't anything distinguishing the two: they wouldn't have any cause to "step into the role of the other" if they were simply interchangeable.

However, one of the confusions that arises about marriage when it is redefined is precisely that it mashes together the roles of moms and dads into one indistinguishable and interchangeable idea.

But what the psychological tool of role playing shows us is that the role of motherhood and the role of fatherhood are not interchangeable, are not able to be collapsed into a mere formula of "parent one" and "parent two." Or, for that matter, "parent three"...

A Triple Threat

Yes, "parent three." That's the new normal being proposed by a "throuple" from Massachusetts.

Their names are Brynn, Doll, and Kitten, and The Daily Mail among other outlets picked up the story this week:

It was back in 2009 that Brynn first met Doll through an online dating site. Senior Software Designer and Engineer, Brynn had been married twice before to women and both experiences had made her acknowledge that monogamous relationships weren't for her.

Meanwhile Fashion Designer, Doll had known that she was polygamous since high school....

Brynn and Doll dated for eight months before moving in together. Two years later, they purchased a house together.

Having both enjoyed polygamous relationships before, Doll and Brynn looked for a third woman to join them. After a few failed liaisons, Doll and Brynn created an OKCupid couple's profile. Eventually, they received a message from Kitten.

... Kitten says: 'My second boyfriend and I had been together for several years but a few months before our wedding, he called the whole thing off without explanation. At first, I was distraught but now, I'm grateful for what he did.

'The whole break-up forced me to really think about who I was and I realised that I had not been honest to myself. On reflection, I realised that I hadn't been happy in my previous monogamous relationships and I discovered that I was poly.

'I set up an OKCupid profile for myself and began dating an awesome woman with the happy consent of her husband. They were a lovely couple but we ended the relationship after I had to move away.

'Soon after that amicable break-up, I came across Doll's and Kitten's OKCupid profile and saw they were looking for a third member to join their 'Super Hero Group'.

The article explains that, "While Brynn and Kitten are legally married, Doll is handfasted to both so the threesome are as equally married to each other as legally possible."

The arrangement was worked out with the help of "a specialist family lawyer ...[who] drafted the ceremony so that all three of them were obligated and bound to each other."

You see, three-party marriages aren't legal anywhere in the U.S. (yet), so the lawyer "drew up paperwork — in terms of assets, wills and legal rights to children — to bind them all together as much as they could without an actual three way marriage" [emphasis added].

That's right — "legal rights to children" — because, you see, the "throuple" are expecting their first child:

It was only three months after their beautiful wedding day that Kitten fell pregnant, after undergoing IVF treatment using a sperm donor. They hope to conceive using the same method with all of their future pregnancies.

Kitten says: 'The three of us have always wanted kids. Doll, Brynn and I are committed to each other and we wanted to grow our family.

'We decided that I would be the one to carry the babies because I am more than happy to become a full-time mum....'

The article goes on to say they hope to have three kids in total ("one for each of them"), all by anonymous sperm donation, but perhaps using donated eggs from the other two "moms" in cooperation with Kitten's surrogacy.

Talk about a society that doesn't understand the roles involved in making a family!

Here we will find three fathers absent altogether from the picture, unknown even to the woman bearing their children; three women each claiming motherhood over their three anticipated kids; and a lawyer who seems to have thought through all the details about the women's "right to children" but seems to know nothing of the rights of children — like children's right to a mom and a dad!

It's the same confusion about roles that pervades our whole society, at every level. Another example, becoming all too familiar, is the case of leaders who won't lead.

Standing Up for the Rights of Our Members

As you already know, this week NOM filed to intervene in a pair of pending legal cases in Oregon... because all of the parties named in the lawsuit have colluded to agree that Oregon's marriage laws are unconstitutional. This includes the state's Governor and Attorney General, who have decided not to represent the interests of the state in preserving its laws.

NOM's intervention is based on the fact that we have members in Oregon whose interest in the case deserves hearing in court. As I said in our press release on the matter:

As a membership organization, we speak on behalf of our members, including a County Clerk in the state, several professionals in the wedding industry, and voters. All of these individuals have a particularized interest in the outcome of the litigation, yet their interests are not being represented. We are working to protect the interests of our members who support true marriage against a collusive lawsuit that has the state joining with the plaintiffs against the interests of our members, and the state's voters.

But Oregon isn't the only place where those who should be leaders are out of touch with those they represent.

An article in POLITICO this week spoke about how "[l]ast week, the Nevada GOP removed opposition to same-sex marriage from its platform, with the state chairman saying the move was indicative of where the party is headed" [emphasis added].

Of course, the media was exuberant about this news and tried to make the chairman's views here a real story when in fact he is simply as wrong as he can be.

Gary Bauer from American Values put it this way in comments to POLITICO:

[Bauer] faulted a "misinformation campaign waged by media elites" and insisted that "public policy-makers are doing a great disservice to themselves and future generations by continuing to misread the convictions of the American people."

Bauer's confident remarks were bolstered by a poll conducted by American Values and Family Research Council, the results of which give the lie to the Nevada GOP chair's notion of "where the party is headed." Here's what the poll showed:

The survey by the GOP polling firm Wilson Research Strategies was of Republican and Republican-leaning independents and was taken over a month ago, sampling 801 people nationwide from March 18 through 20, with a 3.5 percent margin of error.

The survey showed 82 percent agreeing with a statement that marriage should be between "one man and one woman." It also found that 75 percent disagreed that "politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

If you saw a group of ten people, and eight of them were going one way while two at the rear peeled off to pursue their own path, which way would you say the group was headed? With the eight, or with the two? Evidently, the Nevada GOP leadership has decided that the two wanderers are "the party" and that the eight moving in an agreed direction are irrelevant...

The article reports Bauer as saying that, "[the survey] should remind political and cultural leaders that this debate is far from over. If anything, it is taking on a new sense of urgency for millions of men and women of faith."

I couldn't agree more!

Leaders might be abandoning their roles to represent the views they're chosen to represent, or to defend them when challenged, but NOM and others are standing up to fill these abandoned roles.

And in society at large, more and more people are coming to realize that a society based on abandoned roles cannot stand, and so we need to put a stop to the chaos that has ensued.

We need to encourage society to reaffirm the values of fatherhood and motherhood, and not remain silent in the face of couples — and now "throuples" — who would rather make moms and dads mere accidental conveniences, who would make parenting a matter of mere whimsy and place "the right to children" before the rights of children.

One thing's for sure: those of us who believe in marriage and the great goods that it gives to society are not abandoning our posts. Thank you for standing with us in your own irreplaceable and valuable role as part of the NOM family!


Brian S. Brown

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