Bear with me, this is all leading up to a question.
At the party's conference in Liverpool next week, the Liberals will debate changes to the systems of marriage and civil partnerships that would open either up to any couple. It seems fairly likely that the policy will be passed: it has been put forward by the party's LGBT equality group, and I don't think the main conference of the party has ever defeated a motion put down by them in its twentyone (or fortysix or whatever) years.
Party leader Nick Clegg has already expressed his support for same-sex marriage. His counterpart in the other party in Britain's left-right coalition government, David Cameron, has made similar noises - albeit perhaps facing a harder struggle to bring his parliamentary party with him in a vote on the matter. And I think all five candidates for the leadership of the centre-right Labour party have signed up to the idea when quizzed during the current leadership contest.
Seven MPs agreeing doesn't make a new law, mind. Parliamentary time has to be found, and the Coalition Agreement includes various commitments on LGBT equality issues but not marriage. However, there might well be an amendment to some bill or other along the way, and with the kind of cross-party support that voting with one's leader could allow, it might yet happen. If not, it's hard to imagine it not being in one or two manifestos come the 2015 election, if not all three.
There's a bit of talk now about how Civil Partnerships constituted some kind of sell-out. Now, it's true they aren't good enough to constitute equality: as I'm fond of saying, ten years ago as a bisexual person some of my relationships were treated differently in law from others, whereas ten years on everything has changed and it's exactly the same. But in the context of the time that law was drafted, when as a society we were closer to the introduction of Section 28 than we were to 2010, it was a bold but perhaps-deliverable goal.
But now the world has moved on: we may not get equal marriage (and access to civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples who prefer to keep their distance from the historic connotations of marriage) right away, but I'm sure it has to happen some time this decade.
After that, and given our propensity to want to formalise and recognise our longer-term relationships, I suppose the debate moves to poly partnership recognition: but surely that's hell to legislate. With civil partnerships there was a clear model being worked towards: "similar to marriage, similar to divorce, but without the wacky consummation clause".
So here comes the noodly bit I need to google properly some day: does the poly community have a moderately-agreed model of how it might work? I know every time I think about it my brain goes runny from the possibilities, especially of part-of-a-polycule divorce law. Linkys welcome!