Within the gynocentric Mother Church, polyandry was the norm, though orthodoxy accepted all voluntary unions. There were a few monogamous couples, mainly heterosexual, but also a few other pairings. Some people are unsuited to plural marriage, and are wise enough to know themselves. Clark wasn’t sure he envied them or not. Monogamy was probably less complicated; fewer partners provide fewer opportunities for disagreement. Still, he couldn’t bear the thought of a life without Pamiso or Lou.
Li’s and April’s and Philip’s impending union represented the greatest rarity in the church. Lesbian couples often solicited impregnation from anonymous strangers or trusted friends, but Li and April had been courting Phil for years. He was happy to provide his seed, but had declined to tie himself to an established couple. “I might as well be a Mormon,” he said.
Clark had scoffed at the notion. “With your Zoramite and Lamanite friends? You’d be an instant apostate.”
“Ladies, gentlemen, and all children of God!” announced the Cantor. “Attend to her most gracious, blessed, and beloved, our First Mother!”
Mutterings of “blessed be” and “praise her” and “god save the queen” rose from the crowd as the Grand Matriarch, Starla Woodhull, and her four high priest husbands took their places on the dais at the corner of the under lobby. Though her corpulence attested to a long life of prosperity and leisure, the spark in her eyes betrayed no sign of senescence.
As the Hoonan party approached her, her elder consorts assisted her to rise from her throne, and she sang clearly and joyfully:
“The nuptial hour draws on apace, from Cupid’s charms to Gaea’s grace.
“Beloved children heed my call and gather ‘round us one and all.
“A life in joining now begun, come see what Venus and Mars have done!”
The gathering hushed as Li and April and Philip recited, in unison:
“We are true hearts, unconfined, bound to no one, but obliged to conscience.
“We pledge these hearts to the amorous arts,
“To the fruits of freedom and the triumph of trust.
“Toward these ends, we become family.
“Joined freely, and dedicated to the preservation of property, the liberation of love, and the protection of progeny.”
Clark lost himself in the ceremony as it proceeded through Miss Woodhull’s consecration of their union, solicitation of the pledges of fealty to Church, family, and Earth, and blessings upon their present and posterity. The old woman finally concluded her address, with, “Normally, children, I would at this time invite you to seal the union with kisses, but,” she smiled at April’s and Li’s daughters, “it looks like you’ve already gotten to that part a while ago.”
A ripple of laughter ran through the crowd, and then the First Mother sang, “Children of God, Tillers of Earth, Lovers of Life, and Makers of Mirth, I give you the Hoonan family! Now let’s eat!”