Diana Adams at *The Atlantic*: "How one lawyer helps those, like her, in non-traditional relationships"
I'm real happy to see this one. The Atlantic's website is a big deal in the world of serious news and magazine readers. Today it published this interview with one of our top-tier spokespeople and leaders:
Up for Polyamory? Creating Alternatives to Marriage
How one lawyer helps those, like her, in non-traditional relationships
"Le déjeuner sur l'herbe" by Édouard Manet
By Roc Morin
“When I was a child,” Diana Adams began, “I had a doll house and a rich fantasy life. I imagined that I was a cancer-curing surgeon, a world-class ballerina, and a TV show host all at the same time. I was also an amazing mom to all my dolls, but it was always a little mysterious about where they had come from and whether they all had the same father. A little neighbor boy once said to me, ‘I’ll be the daddy.’ I thought about that for a moment. I said, ‘No, you can be my gay lounge singer friend. That’s much more fun.’ I’ve always liked boys. I just like them better in groups.”
Over the years, the aspiring ballerina/surgeon/TV host shifted her focus to law. As a lawyer, Adams now runs a Brooklyn-based legal firm oriented toward providing traditional marriage rights to non-traditional families like the one she imagined as a kid. As an openly polyamorous woman, Diana lives inside a version of that doll house today. Along with her primary partner Ed, she is currently romantically involved with several other men and women.
I sat down recently with the 35-year-old to discuss her life and career.
...How do your different lovers get along with one another?
They’re really good friends. The men even have a name for themselves. They call themselves “The Man Harem.” Sometimes they’ll play with that. They’ll all show up in matching clothes – wearing all pinstripes, or all red shirts, for example. They’re friends and they help each other. For instance, I just had my birthday and my partner Ed is off doing amazing work with NASA. As a consolation, my long-term boyfriend is staying in the house for the week. So, rather than my boyfriend saying, “Wow why's your partner going out of town when it's your birthday?” he’s asking if my partner is okay having to be away for so long, if he needs support. And [Ed] is saying, “Thanks for taking care of Diana since I can’t be there.” There’s a real feeling of compersion. Compersion is the opposite of jealousy.
...How does your family view your lifestyle?
Well, I come from a very religious household. I mean my dad [was] a fundamentalist deacon, so it was hard at first. But, basically my parents have been incredibly supportive. I think that's because they get to see me having wonderful love in my life and getting a lot of support.
Can you give an example?
Well, a while ago my dad had a massive heart attack and two of the men in my life came together to be with my family at the hospital. They’re both scientists, so they understood what was going on with his body and were able to explain [to him] everything that was happening. Both of them had busy jobs, so they actually coordinated with each other so that one of them was there at all times.
My family was just completely awestruck....
How are you using the law to empower non-traditional relationships like yours?
Our laws are about 20 years behind what families actually look like. I'm working to create alternatives to marriage, because I think that if we could choose marriage affirmatively instead of it being a default, it would make relationships stronger. Marriage is an incredibly intense contract.... I mean, you’re signing the most important document you’ll sign in your life and people read it less carefully than a cell phone contract. People have no idea what they’re actually committing to and are horrified a lot of times when they find out.
What kinds of alternatives to marriage are available?
...Domestic partnership, for example, has tremendous possibility to create a more expansive version of what a relationship can look like.... Lesbian couples and sperm donors in a three-parent model base their relationship around a child. That's a model many policymakers can wrap their heads around better than a polyamorous triad.... There are a lot of basic things like ensuring tax benefits, or making sure that your partner is not financially vulnerable, or if you want to be sure that you can visit your partner at the hospital, we can do a healthcare proxy....
I’m helping one polyamorous triad right now set up an LLC so they can share their finances. We’re making them employees of their own three-person corporation so that they can be covered under an employee health plan.... There are a lot of things we can do with co-parenting.... We can do a three-parent adoption....
Go read the whole interview (Feb. 19, 2014).