Poly triad household goes very, very public
The case centers on Fundamentalist Mormon polygamists in Bountiful, British Columbia. But aside from them, the most news-making of the many parties to the case is the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association. The CPAA formed a year ago when polys realized that many of them and their supporters will be collateral damage — liable on paper to five years in prison — if the 120-year-old anti-polygamy law becomes enforcable as currently written.
One of CPAA's three directors is Zoe Duff, a 51-year-old government worker who lives with her two male partners and children in the town of Esquimalt near Victoria, B.C. I met her last month in Seattle at Loving More's Poly Living conference, where she and others gave a detailed presentation about the case. She and four other CPAA volunteers also attended the Polyamory Leadership Network meeting that followed.
With events racing along, Zoe and her partners have decided to go bold and be as public as public can be. This morning the three of them are profiled, with pictures, in Sunday newspapers across Canada.
In the Victoria Times-Colonist:
Esquimalt woman practices polyamory with live-in male partners
By Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist
The calendar at Zoe Duff's Esquimalt house is full of important dates. There are the work schedules for herself, a government employee, and her partners -- Jayson Hawksworth, a grocery worker, and Danny Weeds, a security guard.
Duff's two teenage sons also have work schedules and party dates on there. Date nights are important, so they're logged on the calendar as well.
Duff, 51, has regular nights out with the 54-year-old Hawksworth. She also has nights out with Weed, 44. Then all three go out together on dates, and they all date other people as well.
When the day is done, the three go to bed. It's a big one, measuring 2.4 metres by 2.4 metres, with Duff in the middle.
"They're both heat-seeking missiles and I'm the heat," jokes Duff.
It's an arrangement that works fine for all three. Their respective children and extended families -- both men are separated -- have no problems with their polyamorous triad.
Huff defines polyamory as "many loves," an ethical, non-monogamy, loving more than one person at a time in an emotionally and/or physically demonstrative fashion. A principle of the "poly" lifestyle is openness and honesty among those involved.
...Duff worries that she and others in the "poly" community will be caught in the [polygamy] crossfire and is worried about the criminalization of her way of life.
Polyamory is different from polygamy because all partners are consenting, said Duff. The hallmarks of the lifestyle are respect, integrity and communication.
Duff, twice divorced, said Hawksworth and Weeds "are both very gentle men and big-hearted. They allow me to be who I want to be."
Hawksworth says: "We push her to do what she wants to do. She wants to be more open in her lifestyle but she also wants to be able to write down things. She's a budding author, and she's a wonderful lady."
Hawksworth said the triad arrangement "makes me more open, makes me want to try new things."
...The two men get along so well that Duff jokes they are on a man-date and they just use her for cover. But the men are both heterosexual, so Duff is their only sexual partner within the household.
...Everybody agrees that polyamory takes a lot of talking.
"A lot of things you can get away with in a monogamous relationship, you can't get away with when there's more people involved," said Huff.
"You have to communicate on a level that's kind of scary sometimes. You have to put everything out on the table and be honest with yourself, which is really hard."
They say the payoff for all the hard work is when you can watch a partner having a great time with another person and not have a twinge of worry because you're secure.
..."It's kind of cool to be out with these guys and they're looking at girls on the street and they say, 'That's a nice one, what do you think?'," said Huff.
"This level of honesty and communication is so easy once you've achieved it."
Read the whole article (Nov. 21, 2010).
Versions of the article also appear in today's Vancouver Sun (under the title Threesome's company too: 'Polyamorous' adults defend way of life), The Province in Vancouver ('Many loves' works best for some people), the Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, and probably elsewhere.
The Vancouver Sun has provided the most extensive background on the polygamy case, including an earlier profile of Zoe and family: Polyamorous triad: "We are a stable and happy blended family". Much of the Sun's coverage has been by columnist Daphne Bramham, not exactly a disinterested party; she wrote the book The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada's Polygamous Mormon Sect exposing widespread abuses associated with patriarchal polygamy in Bountiful, and sometimes she seems to resent the polys for coming out of left field and complicating her crusade.
The National Post had an article on the case yesterday: Court to decide if polygamy laws conflict with rights charter, with a rather dismissive note on the polyamory interveners:
A total of 11 interveners will represent both sides of the debate. They make an eclectic lot. Among the groups challenging the law is it stands is the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, which supports the practice of having multiple relationships. It has filed supporting affidavits in which middle-aged members extol the virtues of sharing their bedrooms with more than one other. One polyamorist insists that her teenaged children don’t mind her two-male arrangement at all.
Stay tuned. The attorneys-general will present their opening arguments in the first few days, along with counterarguments from an amicus curiae appointed by the court. (The case has no defendants.) It's not known yet when the polys and their lawyer will testify.