Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

June 18, 2009

"Polyamory: When One Spouse Isn't Enough"

ABC News.com

This is kind of a biggie: ABC News profiles poly people regarding legalized group marriage. The article is on ABC's website; as far as I can tell the story wasn't broadcast on TV. (If you do see it on TV, please let me know.)

Polyamory: When One Spouse Isn't Enough

Some See Polyamorous Marriage as the Next Civil Rights Movement

June 18, 2009

She was born Barbara, but calls herself "Ashara Love" because most people don't understand her unconventional family.

Love, a 51-year-old insurance underwriter from California, has been married to her husband "Cougar" for a decade, but they've had numerous sexual triads, which they insist have enriched their relationship.

"I am living my life partially hidden and partially open," said Love, whose friends and boss know about her sexuality, but her parents do not.

"Many of us adopt another name because it provides us with protection from being outed," she said. "We are the next generation after the gay and transgender communities."

As polyamorists, the couple belongs to a small group that believes people have the right to form their own complex relationships with multiple partners. The most vocal want the right to marry — as a cluster.

"We have rights to love any way we want unless we are harming other people," said Love. "Like the air we breathe, we have a right to be and do and say whatever is our full expression, and this to me is a civil right."

The polyamory movement grew out of the communes of the 1960s and the swingers of the 1970s, but today, with gay marriage legal in six states, some, like Love, say their cause should be next.

This nascent and as yet small effort to legalize group marriage is likely to enrage conservative religious groups that upheld Proposition 8, California's ban on gay marriage. In hard-hitting ads, those groups charged that allowing gay marriage would open the door to all kinds of non-traditional relationships, including polygamists.

"These group marriage people are certainly fringe, but clearly growing," said Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family.

"Google the word 'polyamory' and see how many groups there are," he told ABCNews.com. "And look at their rhetoric. It is word-for-word what same-sex marriage advocates employ in their effort to redefine marriage. Is it really a good idea to open this Pandora's box?"...

...Polys say that monogamy is a cultural norm that often fails. "As a result, many marriages are train wrecks, even when they don't end in divorce," said Love's husband, Cougar, 58.

"Few people have good models to base their polyamory rules on," he told ABCNews.com. "For this reason, polyamory agreements must be negotiated with tenderness, empathy, partnership, and the commitment to keep everyone safe."

Polyamorists Value Fidelity

Love and Cougar's goal is to create a "polyfidelitous family" -- four, five or six people who don't have relationships outside the marriage.

"Every person in a cluster or family realizes that no one can be completely happy if anyone is not," he said.

But Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a sex therapist and professor at Columbia University Teachers College, says being successful at polyamory is a tall order.

"[It] demands knowing knowing yourself, replacing guilt with acceptance, communicating and embracing sexual energy, spirituality, new beliefs and a new culture," she told ABCNews.com. "Overcoming jealousy is key."...

Most Not Interested in Marriage

[Deborah Anapol says] today's polys have little interest in legalizing marriage and "the state being involved in their lives."

"Polys don't want to make it into a special identity and don't want to be known as a poly person," said Anapol. "They just want to live their lives. A movement tends to put you in an oppressed, underdog position."

"I'd like to think the movement has already succeeded and in the most liberal parts of this country, it's more accepted," she said. "The shift has already happened."

At 57, Anapol is now "single" after two marriages -- one traditional and the other polyamorous -- which produced two daughters.

"Both are comfortable with the idea," she said. "The 37-year-old has chosen a conventional monogamous marriage and the 20-year-old is still experimenting, but definitely attracted to the idea."...

Read the whole article, and go pile onto the comments. (Here's the article's plain text.)

My own take is that the more you think about it, the more impossibly difficult a group-marriage law would be under our current legal setup (as I've written before). In the best of circumstances, laws will probably take a couple of generations to adjust.

This is in marked contrast to gay-couple marriage, which fits right onto the existing legal framework for straight-couple marriage.


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Blogger James K. Collins said...

I like to think that we're entering public consciousness.

And again, they have chosen a fairly sane person to represent polyamory. The headline is a tad annoying, but considering what they COULD have used, it ain't bad.

The "Poly Name" business is a little wiggy, but it does point out the continuing issues that keep so many of us in the closet.

June 18, 2009 7:49 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I think the best we can hope for is for the complete separation of marriage from any governmental influence, i.e., as far as local, state and federal governments are concerned, it would be civil unions for everyone. Then it might be feasible to make the jump from that to the idea of building intentional poly families just like buiilding legal partnerships, like law firms.

June 19, 2009 12:39 AM  
Blogger truthiness091101 said...

Hi, all. I am Ashara Love, and I do have a couple quibbles with what the author of the article "when one spouse isn't enough" wrote, but overall, I think she did a fairly nice job, grabbing some of my comments that I thought would NEVER make it into publication. BTW, I told the author that many people in the Poly community are also pagans, and that many pagans have alternate names. Most poly's don't use another name, but I have for over 25 years for spiritual reasons. I know it sounds wiggy when there is no appropriate context provided (or maybe even when there is...). Oh well... The sidebar about the poly murder case in Washington, D.C., I assure you I protested loudly, wondering why this had to be the "hook". I think it's totally ridiculous, but whatever, she gave me and Cougar a fair shake, and quoted some stuff we feel pretty strongly about. Thanks, James Collins, for "thinking" I'm a fairly sane person. Depends on the day, but... :)

June 19, 2009 12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Without the possibility of legal recognition of poly marriage, my own existence is harmed because my spice and I (we're a triad) cannot necessarily go about our lives as a cohesive unit. One of us is desperately poor, and one of us is an immigrant. There's little to stop the government of our country from revoking one person's immigration status on the basis of "polygamy", and no effective legal means for the poorest person to gain the protections and benefits marriage provides to the other two.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I do want legal recognition. Why is establishing new legal precedent a bad thing?

July 21, 2009 12:31 AM  

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