Activist attorney Diana Adams spoke on the evolving composition of families and the law in the United States at Shimer College Oct. 17.
Based in New York, Adams specializes in cases involving LGBT, polyamorous and BDSM communities as well as other non-traditional families.
While working with clients, Adams said she will often create legal contracts that intentionally lay out what all parties expect in a non-traditional family dynamic. In Adams' experience, this results in long-lasting partnerships because everyone involved understands exactly what s/he is getting into because they discuss every aspect of what the parties envision for the partnership.
When questioning the notion of traditional monogamous heterosexual families, Adams referenced Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney's response to a question on regulating automatic weapons at the town-hall debate, touting married moms and dads as the solution to a culture of violence.
"Where does that idea come from, that a particular family structure will solve this problem?" asked Adams. "Think of all the 'crazed gunmen' you know who had lesbian parents or gay parents or polyamorous parents?"
Adams said that in the United States, marriage is held as the highest form of adult human expression and it is privileged in the legal system. She questioned fighting for marriage-related incentives, such as the more-than-1,000 federal rights that just apply to heterosexual married couples.
"We need the right not to get married," said Adams.
Adams does support same-sex marriage as a current solution to allow LGBT people to access the rights reserved for married people, like adding a partner to health insurance plans; however, she would ultimately like to have civil partnerships for all consenting adults.
"I'd like to see the government get out of the business of deciding what partnerships get what benefits," said Adams.