"Three Partners, One Family"
in a liberal Christian magazine
"Blue" Joyce, John Bashinski, Kaia Baird and Warren Baird at a
park near their Montreal home. Photo by Neal Rockwell.
The United Church is Canada's largest Protestant denomination. Its independently-run, highly regarded magazine the United Church Observer (circulation 60,000) sympathetically profiles, in its current issue, a longterm Montreal triad raising a child. The family were among the polyfolks arguing for decriminalization of polyamory to the British Columbia Supreme Court last year.
Three partners, one family
By Pieta Woolley
For the past five years, computer techie John Robert Bashinski has shared his Montreal row house with two partners — one female, one male — and the trio’s kindergarten-aged daughter. It’s a polyamorous relationship — on the surface, hard to distinguish from polygamy, but in many ways, the polar opposite.
Egalitarian, secular and non-institutional, the family’s relationship is founded on the personal freedom of each of the three partners, he says. All three adults see other lovers outside their primary unit. Weekly, the partners also rotate on date nights, a two-adult romantic evening, while the third does childcare. It’s just your average three-parent “open” relationship, in other words. Bashinski reports they’re very public about it yet never harassed in their progressive, family-oriented neighbourhood.
...“Polyamory seems to be on the upswing in the zeitgeist,” says Bashinski, who is a spokesperson for the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA). “There may not be way more people publicly doing it, but it is becoming more visible, and more people are thinking of it as a valid option.”
The CPAA argues that polyamory, which literally means “many loves,” is far more widespread in Canada than its fundamentalist cousin, polygamy.... The group refers to itself politically as the “poly majority.” Social acceptance, Bashinski reports, is on the rise. He credits the popularization of open marriages and the free love movement starting in the 1960s.
Legally, however, there’s a ways to go. In November, the B.C. Supreme Court upheld the 122-year-old law prohibiting polygamous marriages. The CPAA was an intervener in the case; Bashinski was one of five polyamorous Canadians who testified in favour of allowing egalitarian multi-partner relationships.
Still, the decision of B.C. Chief Justice Robert Bauman effectively decriminalized polyamory while confirming Canada’s anti-polygamy laws.
...In response to the judgment, the CPAA stated, “Decriminalization of homosexual relationships did not lead to the recognition of gay marriage until 30 years later. No doubt it will take some time for Canadians to determine whether they ever want to recognize multi-partner marriages.”
And indeed, there’s no consensus within the polyamorous community if legal marriage is a worthy fight. For Bashinski, an important part of being polyamorous is refusing to narrowly define relationships or sanctify them through a religion or the state. He doesn’t want a marriage — though he does value commitment. “If an arrangement is working, it’s foreign to me why I’d care whether my partner has other sexual partners. At the same time, we’ve all agreed that we’re not going to do anything that will destabilize our family.”
...“Overall, we want normalization; we want acceptance,” he says. “My biggest concern is making sure nothing bad happens to our daughter because of society’s larger attitudes toward what we’re doing.”
Read the whole article (May 2012 issue).