What does the Alternatives to Marriage Project have to do with Prop 8? Very little! But we were mentioned during cross-examination anyway, so let’s clear up some misunderstandings and provide some context here.
One live-blogger described it like this:
Thompson begins making the case that because Cott supported an organization called Alternatives to Marriage, started by a heterosexual couple to validate cohabitation as a valid choice, that this implies she is also a proponent of poly-amorous relationships.
Cott –“I don’t support poly-amorous marriages.”
The tension is thick. Cott is clearly annoyed by Thompson who is firing off question after question with smug intent to make her look stupid.
The San Francisco Chronicle heard it a little differently:
In cross-examination, David Thompson, lawyer for the Prop. 8 campaign committee, sought to portray Cott as a biased advocate who had once endorsed a statement by a group advocating “alternatives to marriage,” which he said included multiple partners.
Cott said she had only been endorsing the right not to marry.
Thompson’s attempt to make something good sound bad revives the attacks that Professor Cott and other withstood many years ago, for signing AtMP’s 2000 Affirmation of Family Diversity. It is similar to the attacks withstood by Professor Chai Feldblum for signing the 2006 Beyond Marriage statement, before her Senate confirmation to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in late 2009.
Many AtMP members are uncomfortable with the idea of polyamory, while some see it as not only a valid but their own alternative to marriage. Similarly, many AtMP members are uncomfortable with the idea that couples are treated differently than individuals, while some would never question that.
Our official practice, like that of many of our members, is to use the term different-sex instead of heterosexual (or straight), recognizing that one can’t tell a couple’s sexuality by their sex (picture a lesbian legally married to a gay man).
Finally, AtMP does not advocate any particular lifestyle or relationship structure. We advocate fairness and equality for all, whether or not people are married or in romantic relationships.
Anyway, we’re delighted to be connected (if only very minimally very long ago) to Professor Cott and highly recommend her book Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation.