Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

November 30, 2011

Swedish academic argues for triparenting


A newsletter of "bioethics news from around the world" summarizes a paper that appeared in a Swedish academic journal about whether, if two parents are better than one, three parents might be better than two.

Swedish academic argues for triparenting

By Jared Yee

One parent is good. Two parents are better. Three parents might be better still. So argues a researcher from Sweden, who published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics on multiparenting. Daniela Cutas, of the University of Gothenberg and the Karolinska Institute, challenged “the necessity of the max-two parents framework”. Cutas argues that while there may be drawbacks to families with more than two parents, the benefits can be significant:

“Deviations in parental numbers from the two-parent standard are tolerated in most legislatures from two to one but not from two to three or more. However, more and more children nowadays grow up not only in impoverished, but also in enriched families.”

“On both sides of the Atlantic, research undertaken on such families indicates that neither heterosexual coupledom of the parents, nor genetic ties, are an indication of family success. Instead, what seems to matter for children’s emotional well-being is family process, whatever the number of, genetic link with (or lack of it), sex and sexual orientation of, their parents.”

“Allowing parenting by more than two people might help some who struggle with competition for parenting, as well as the children involved. It might also accommodate the reality of the lives of those who practise triparenting, but cannot, so to speak, make it official. It might, in addition, make it easier for some people to include parenting in their lives. With two more adults to share parenting tasks, one might find it easier to organise one’s life as a parent. Moreover, elective triparenting might have the advantage of coming about without the drama in some of the other situations (eg, as a result of parental separations, remarriages, etc).”

“…having three committed parents may work out better than having only two, at least in some cases; and it is not clear that pushing the parental numerosity criteria upwards is more likely to have negative rather than positive consequences. There are reasons why having three parents may be better than having only two or one: such may be the increased chances of parental survival and the multiplication of resources in general, as well as, arguably, a soothing of competition for legal parenting by not always needing to choose only two.

“There are also reasons why having two parents or one may be better than having three: there is less potential for inter-parental disagreement or separation although, in some cases, choosing only two can lead to the loss of already formed close connections with the children. Moreover, the disadvantages are not inherent and may even become advantages (better likelihood of reaching reasoned decisions, exposure to different viewpoints): especially when the three parents are committed to parenting,” she wrote.

Source (Nov. 25, 2011).

Here's the abstract page of Cutas's paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics: On triparenting. Is having three committed parents better than having only two?, Aug. 9, 2011. (Full journal article requires payment.)


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November 26, 2011

Canada polygamy ruling: Win, loss, or draw?

Reactions are spreading to Wednesday's court ruling in Canada, in which British Columbia Chief Justice Robert Bauman upheld Canada's anti-polygamy law while narrowing its scope. As part of his ruling, he drew a new distinction that puts "common law" polyamorous households and intimate groups outside the law's reach — unless they perform a marriage ceremony or "sanctioning event" obtaining some sort of sanction from some kind of authorities, formal or informal, and/or the community, in ways not well defined. To catch up on the news, see my previous post. [See also this key followup that may clarify the situation.]

The T-shirt version of the 335-page ruling as it applies to us is displayed above courtesy of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA), which intervened in the case to argue for legalization. Click the image to read the fine print. (And yes, you can buy the shirt.)

The case isn't settled. George Macintosh, the court-appointed lawyer who argued to decriminalize polygamy and lost, says he will likely appeal the decision. He has until December 23rd to file an appeal.

[UPDATE December 21: In a surprising development, Macintosh said today that he will not appeal Chief Justice Bauman’s finding.]

You can google up lots of coverage of the ruling in general.

Modern polyamory was a sidelight in the case, even though poly households across Canada far outnumber the patriarchal polygamists whom the case was primarily about. Polyamory would probably have been ignored altogether if the CPAA hadn't pushed its way in. As it was, polys maintained a big foot in the door from start to finish. The CPAA seized a place for us in court, in the national debate, and ultimately in the court's ruling. As commenter Tom G. says,

I am still trying to wade through the whole [ruling], but overall, other than the brief disappointment at not winning the lottery, I think it got exactly what CPAA needed to get from being an intervenor in this case.

More importantly, I don't think [1037] would've happened without CPAA's involvement, and for that I'd say it's an awesome result with very much thanks going to the CPAA leadership.

I also think it's very important that the clarification that leaves poly relatively safe from persecution will be indispensable in paving the way forward for more polys to become public.

Paragraph [1037] is the one declaring that the law against polygamy "is not directed at multi-party, unmarried relationships or common law cohabitation". This narrows down the law's target from the previous, very broad class of multiple "conjugal unions," poorly defined, which has stood since 1890. Multiple conjugal unions have now been explicitly declared legal in Canada if they are not "marriages." For this purpose, the judge defined a "marriage" as something created in a formal sanctioning event or ceremony, "whether sanctioned by civil, religious or other means, and whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage."

That leaves a lot of room for confusion. And criticism for arbitrary hair-splitting and line-drawing. Indeed, the judge defended this act of line-drawing by comparing it to the difference between a .07 and .08 blood alcohol level; the practical difference may be insignificant, but if a "bright line" is to be drawn at all it has to be located somewhere.

So apparently if three friends agree to a life commitment together they're fine, if they tell others about it they're fine, but if they make the agreement in front of their community with applause and cake, they remain liable for up to five years in prison. And so do the guests who applaud and eat the cake.

[UPDATE: This is apparently not so. Simply performing a marriage-like ceremony falls well short of making it an actual (illegal) group marriage as the judge defined a "marriage," said CPAA attorney John Ince in an open letter to the polyamory community two weeks later after examining the decision more fully. Apparently, we're almost totally in the clear — regardless of any rings, vows, cake, and cheering family and friends.]

Not that such a wacky prosecution is ever likely to be brought. Me, I wouldn't worry.


The CPAA and its lawyer John G. Ince cheered the overall result in their press release issued to the media hours after the decision. And Ince said in one of his national media appearances that while the ban on marriage-like ceremonies is troubling, "The formality of marriage is really not a big issue in the polyamorous community."

That got him in hot water with other CPAA members and on poly lists. He defended the statement as being factually correct — only a few polys seek formalized group marriage — though of course it's indeed a big issue for those who do.

Ince continued his reply on a private list (reprinted with permission):

Had the law been clear from the beginning that live-in polyamorous relationships were not prohibited, and that the only prohibition was on marriage, I doubt we even would have participated in the case. Our overwhelming concern was ensuring that people in the position of our [affidavit filers] would not be considered criminals just because they lived together.

...I think that Canadians need to understand that our dominant mission in this case is to protect common law families from criminal sanction. I also think that only once that principle is accepted can we take the next step. Gay history shows that liberation comes in steps. First gay relationships had to be accepted as legitimate and non-criminal. Once that occurred, then gay marriage followed. I think our normalization will follow the same course.

None of this is to support the judge's ruling that prohibits any form of multi-party marriage for anyone. I have stated in the media that I believe this is wrong, and makes no legal sense, and will continue to say that. But that is a secondary issue. The key issue that the media and that Canadians need to hear is that common law polyamory is valid and lawful.

Like it says on the shirt.


One poly family that would still seem to be illegal was interviewed yesterday in the online newspaper the Vancouver Courier:

Court ruling mixed blessing for polyamorists

By Peter Tupper

Some Vancouverites in "polyamorous" relationships are feeling a mixed sense of relief after a court decision upheld Canada's law regarding multiple marriages. Released Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bauman's 335-page decision says the Criminal Code section that prohibits polygamy does not cover the various forms of consensual, non-monogamous relationships known as polyamory.

"My personal relationship is not illegal according to the definitions of this decision," said Zoe Duff, one of the directors of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association who is in a polyamorous arrangement with two men. "That's a relief."

However, Bauman's decision also says formal marriages, legally recognized or not, with more than two people are against the law. This includes both Mormon fundamentalists with multiple wives in the Interior town of Bountiful and polyamorists who have formalized their relationships with ceremonies.

John, who asked that his real name not be given, shares an East Side house with a woman, another man and a child in what they call a triad relationship. "In our situation, we are one of those groups of polyamorists that [the decision] is not a victory for," John said. "We did participate in a ceremony. While it wasn't legal or religious, we had a full ceremony, we had rings, we had cake, we had guests, we had a ceremony."

His partner, who asked her name not be published and who is legally married to John, said she feels sad for her family. "In a situation that was based on deep love and caring, I have been now defined as something that Canada sees as criminal."

Justice Bauman's decision comes from a request from the B.C. Attorney General to the Supreme Court about whether section 293 of the Criminal Code is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The section is an old, rarely used law that makes practising polygamy, or even attending the ceremony of a polygamous marriage, an offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment. The attorney general hoped to use the law against the Mormon fundamentalist splinter group of Bountiful, a small community in south-east B.C. that practises polygyny: men having multiple wives....

Read the whole article (Nov. 25, 2011). The writer once worked for Ince.

"John" in this story tells us,

Our family has been discussing this a lot since the ruling, and while we feel pleased for most of the Poly Community we are not happy about how it maintains that we are criminals. Not that we think the police will be knocking at our door, but it is the principle of it.

The reporter is doing a longer story on our family that will come out in January.

In Xtra, "Canada's gay and lesbian news":

MPs react to BC polygamy ruling

Legal expert says decision leaves room for appeal

By Dale Smith / National / November 24, 2011

The decision from the BC Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of laws against polygamy received unanimous support from all [political] parties in [Canada's capital] Ottawa on Nov 23, with justice minister Rob Nicholson announcing the [Conservative] government is “pleased with the decision.”

The court ruled that polyamorists should be allowed to have multiple relationships so long as they don’t get married, but polygamy will remain a crime.

...“We’re satisfied with that ruling,” says NDP justice critic Jack Harris, noting he hopes it will not be appealed....

...Liberal MP Scott Brison also approved of the ruling. “It reminds us is that the Conservatives’ fear-mongering decision that somehow upholding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and extending same-sex marriage rights would lead to polygamy was totally bogus from the beginning,” he says.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May notes that the decision acknowledges there is an infringement on Charter rights in that people in polyamorous relationships cannot get married, but it’s considered reasonable under the circumstances. She says the nuance in the decision will affect a number of different communities.

“It’s important for people in the polyamorous community to be assured that this is not affecting them,” May says. “It’s clear that the attention that the court gives to harm is particularly to those who might be coerced at a young age.”

Carissima Mathen, associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa, is disappointed by the decision because it doesn’t challenge the arbitrary nature of laws singling out relationships based on the number of persons involved.

“The court really didn’t do anything with the definition of the crime, so polygamy is supposedly justified because it constitutes all these harms to women and children, but it can be applied to any relationship regardless of the breakdown of the genders,” Mathen says....

...Mathen says Chief Justice Robert Bauman’s ruling is also problematic because it makes the distinction that polygamy is related to marriage, and polyamory is simply social arrangements involving intimate relationships.

“The fact that the Criminal Code does mention conjugal unions, he denudes that of all meaning, but at the same time he’s presented us with a real conundrum as to when something will be considered a polygamous marriage and when it won’t,” Mathen says. “His intent, I think, was to somehow carve out a space for polyamory, but functionally I don’t know how that’s going to work.”...

Read the whole article.

A Ottawa Citizen column, reprinted elsewhere, dissents from the mainstream congratulations to the overall ruling:

Heartfield: We don't need a polygamy law

By Kate Heartfield

OTTAWA — Every time a woman gives birth in Canada, she has a one-in-15,000 chance of dying. Should women be allowed to choose how often they incur that tiny risk?

I ask this ridiculous question because apparently one Canadian judge thinks Canadian women can't be trusted to make that decision, or many others, for themselves....

...The demographic argument is a great big shiny distraction, and the judge was duly distracted. He says women in polygamous communities are at increased risk of harms including physical abuse, depression, loss of autonomy and yes, the physical risks that come with choosing to have more children.

Aren't many women in monogamous relationships subject to those same harms? The judge dismisses that question, saying he was only asked to look at polygamy. "That harm may arise out of other human relationships, that is, monogamous ones, seems beside the point."

Actually, that is the whole point. This is a question of criminal law, not social policy. Marriages don't commit crimes; people do. It is the abuse itself, not the kind of relationship it happens in, that ought to be criminal. And indeed, is criminal.

In buying into the notion that our laws should attempt to manipulate our demographics, not govern our behaviour, the judge has underestimated the role of human agency. Criminalizing the community takes the emphasis off the moral responsibility of the abusers themselves (after all, they're only creatures of a bad marital code) and patronizingly assumes that no adult woman should be able to choose, freely and competently, to enter into a plural marriage.

But she can enter into a plural common-law relationship — which the judge decided is perfectly legal.

That's just weird.... If the harms that arise from polygamy are really about things like how many women are available to how many men, why does it matter whether there's a ceremony or not? Bauman says evidence of a ceremony is not necessary to make the relationship a marriage, but is one factor the courts could consider when deciding whether a group of polygamists is illegally married or legally cohabiting.

...The very real crimes to women and children in communities such as Bountiful, B.C., must not go unpunished. But this ruling, which has very little to do with those crimes, ought to be overturned.

Here's a powerful dissent by a columnist in The Globe and Mail, sometimes called Canada's newspaper of record, to the most conservative and troubling of Bauman's declarations:

We have as many double standards on polygamy as Solomon had wives


I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm; more specifically, Parliament's reasoned apprehension of harm arising out of the practice of polygamy. This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.

—Chief Justice Robert Bauman in the B.C. Supreme Court decision this week that upheld the constitutionality of Canada's anti-polygamy laws

A list of things that have been decried as threats to monogamous marriage: contraceptives, gay marriage, sex education, out-of-wedlock cohabitation, lewd dancing to rock 'n' roll, women in the work force, legal alcohol, naughty films, no-fault divorce and educating women.

Yet even though all these things came to pass — and several of them would be a fair trade for monogamous marriage — the institution is still here. Possibly monogamous marriage isn't the fragile flower it's made out to be.

But Parliament's chivalrousness toward it, as reaffirmed by Chief Justice Bauman's ruling, makes me nervous anyway.

It assigns an inherent moral value to a particular kind of union over other kinds of relationships entered into by consenting adults, and I hate that. What's more, upholding a law that violates our Charter right to religious freedom in the name of protecting women and children from trafficking, rape, abuse and forced marriage is just faulty logic: These are already crimes.

Claiming they're more common in polygamous communities is suspect. Chief Justice Bauman specifically interprets the law as not applying to polyamorous relationships, so clearly the number of sex partners a parent has is not in itself construed to be the problem. Might it not be more accurate, then, to say these crimes are more prevalent in, say, religious cults — whatever their matrimonial arrangements?

...Chief Justice Bauman again confuses correlation with causation by basing his ruling partly on the fact that women in polygamous relationships “have more children, are more likely to die in childbirth and live shorter lives than their monogamous counterparts.” While this is probably true, it probably stems less from the fact that these women share one husband (a circumstance that might easily lead to women having less sex and fewer babies) than the fact that many women in polygamous relationships belong to religious sects that forbid contraception and whose doctrine dictates that women should bear lots of children.

Were the judge to extend his compassion for women further, we would have to look at Catholic and other religious teachings that have similar outcomes. Statistically, women who are married to one man are likelier to have more children and die in childbirth than women who aren't married at all, so we might as well conclude that marriage itself damages women's health.

This ruling demonstrates the tendency to compare only the best monogamous relationships against only the worst polygamous relationships. I've seen hard-core feminists get 18th-century sentimental over monogamous marriage when polygamy is mentioned. They even stop saying “patriarchal,” and require resuscitation.

...Monogamy isn't threatened by a small sect in British Columbia, and enshrining it won't alter the members' religious beliefs. But this ruling should concern all those perfectly nice Canadians for whom monogamy is no more an institution than is the missionary position.

Read the whole article (Nov. 25, 2011), and note the many positive comments.

John Bashinski, one of the CPAA's chief organizers and a member of an MFM triad family that submitted an affidavit in the case, was interviewed at length on CBC's "The Current," broadcast nationally:

...There are plenty of people today cheering the ruling, which stems from a case centred on a breakaway sect of the Mormon Church in Bountiful, B.C. But others argue that polygamy in Canada has — unjustly — been given a bad name. They say there are thousands of Canadians in polygamous or polyamorous relationships that are perfectly healthy ... that do not involve coercion, or abuse or trafficking of child brides.

Last November on The Current, we heard from a polyamorous family in Montreal ... Kimberly Ann Joyce, her two partners, Warren Baird and John Bashinski - and their then 3-year-old daughter, Kaia who is now 4.

John Bashinski also happens to be secretary of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association — one of the interveners in the B.C. Supreme Court polygamy case. He joined us from Montreal this morning.

Listen here. Comments Carole Chanteuse of CPAA, "I would have to say he absolutely nailed all the points that needed to be made, and they let him do it and just keep talking!"

Here is another dissent to the idea that the ruling counts as a win:

Queer Ontario Denounces Court Decision on Criminal Code Section 293

The decision... found Section 293 to be constitutional because it supposedly protects women and children from the supposed harms of polygamy. While this may sound commendable, the ruling reveals that [Bauman] was more concerned with preventing the formal recognition of multi-partner relationships than protecting abused persons.

For one, Bauman determined that section 293 only applies to multi-partner relationships that take the form of a marriage — without clearly defining what a “marriage” is — leaving unmarried and cohabiting common law partners free to live their lives without fear of prosecution (Paragraphs 1023 and 1037 of the ruling). Similarly, Bauman ruled that the law applies to polyandry and same-sex polygamous relationships... because the government has an interest in the preservation of monogamous marriage, and the protection of individuals and society from the harms believed to be associated with polygamy [Paragraph 982].

“This creates a strange predicament,” notes Martin Otárola, Queer Ontario’s Secretary, “where individuals are free to form relationships with more than one partner, but are suddenly at risk of being charged with a criminal offence if they ever attempt to formalize their relationship. This begs the question: What is it about polyamorous relationships that make them perfectly acceptable under the law when they exist informally, yet so threatening once a request is made to have the rights, recognitions, and benefits afforded to married couples extended onto them? There is absolutely no logic behind this arbitrary distinction.”

...“Social conservatism seems to have led the judge to some illogical conclusions,” notes Alana Boltwood, Chair of Queer Ontario’s Research & Education Committee. “People should be free to love – and marry – whomever they please. We support consensual, honest and responsible relationships between any number of people.”

You can read Queer Ontario’s policy statement on non-monogamous relationships at http://queerontario.org/2011/11/24/non-monogamy-policy . Queer Ontario would like to thank the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association for their contributions to the British Columbia case.

Read the whole statement (Nov. 24, 2011).

See also Dawn Davidson's similar dissent from the "yay we won" stance.

Discussion is rolling at the Loving More Polyactive Yahoo group.

Carole of the CPAA says it "will shortly be putting out a more formal and considered statement of its 'take' on the litigation."

Other noteworthy media coverage of the polyamory angle is in my previous post. I'm not trying to keep up with all of it!

Cheers to the dedicated, intelligent, effective activists of the CPAA and especially John Ince. Starting from nothing two years ago, they organized from scratch and succeeded in getting a bad law redefined to explicitly legalize polyamory in Canada, if there is no formalized group marriage performed by a sanctioning authority. More broadly, they have helped turn an unknown word and an unimagined, paradigm-breaking concept into background knowledge for much of a nation's public.

Going forward, the group plans to stay involved in the expected appeal and perhaps the re-drafting of laws in the coming years — and to help make polys safe to be out and to fearlessly assert their place in society.

All this will be contingent on money and resources. Send them a donation; click the yellow button. I've just done it, and I say you should too.



(The shirt above is another of their ideas for public education going forward.)


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November 23, 2011

Canada Judge Upholds Anti-Polygamy Law

British Columbia Chief Justice Robert Bauman has just upheld Canada's anti-polygamy law — while narrowing its scope and letting polyamorous families off the hook if they do not commit an overt act of multiple marriage.

From his ruling:

I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm; more specifically, Parliament’s reasoned apprehension of harm arising out of the practice of polygamy. This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.... I have concluded that the Attorneys General and their allied Interested Persons have demonstrated a very strong basis for a reasoned apprehension of harm to many in our society inherent in the practice of polygamy as I have defined it in these reasons.

...while s. 293 offends the freedom of religion of identifiable groups guaranteed by s. 2(a) of the Charter... the provision... is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

He also said, "There can be no alternative to the outright prohibition.... There is no such thing as so-called 'good polygamy.'"

However, Bauman specifies that the law refers to actual multiple marriage, which he is at pains to contrast to "relationships" not born in a formal act of community sanctioning. Here, the key part of his ruling seems to be:

[1036] From all of this, I conclude that properly interpreted, s. 293(1)(a) prohibits practicing or entering into a “marriage” with more than one person at the same time, whether sanctioned by civil, religious or other means, and whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage.

[1037] The offence is not directed at multi-party, unmarried relationships or common law cohabitation, but is directed at both polygyny and polyandry. It is also directed at multi-party same sex marriages.

Warning: I Am Not A Lawyer.

Here is the (massive) full ruling.

UPDATE: The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) has issued a press release with the reaction of its chief counsel, John Ince:

CPAA Relieved That Polyamorist Relationships Are Not Criminalized

VANCOUVER -- November 23, 2011 -- The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) is relieved by BC Chief Justice Robert Bauman's decision today clarifying the interpretation of Canada's anti-polygamy law.

“Polyamorists are relieved they can be in loving egalitarian conjugal relationships without criminal sanction,” said CPAA legal counsel, John Ince, “Common law relationships are clearly not prohibited. Polyamorists who are dealing with immigration or family custody issues for instance now need no longer worry about being considered to be criminals”.

Many polyamorous women, as well as men, have multiple partners, and polyamorists think men and women have equal freedom to define their relationships. The CPAA says the decision will relieve most polyamorists but, alarmingly, will harm those who make certain formal commitments.

“The decision still criminalizes a segment of the polyamorous community if they have a marriage ceremony,” said Zoe Duff, a CPAA director and spokesperson. Duff also represents one of the five polyamorous families who provided evidence to the court. The decision clarifies that she is living legally with her two male partners.

“Polyamorous Canadians are responsible citizens who work toward sustaining healthy, loving, egalitarian relationships and it is wrong for Canada's laws to continue to criminalize any of us,” continued Duff, "The number of people in any given relationship is not the issue. The health of the relationship and family is the issue.”

The CPAA intervened in the case because the wording of the 120 year old statute -- which was aimed at patriarchal relationships -- might have caught the modern egalitarian and secular relationships practiced by polyamorists. The judge ruled that the law does not apply to unformalized polyamorous relationships.

The CPAA emphasizes that any abuse or exploitation in family situations can and should be addressed under abuse or exploitation laws -- independently from the question of how many people are living together. The CPAA is concerned that the polygamy law actually makes it more difficult to help victims of abuse and exploitation.

The CPAA's mission is to represent Canadians who are polyamorous. It expects to participate if today’s court decision is appealed, and to work with Parliament on any legislative response. The group says that funding and resource concerns may limit its activities but notes a broad and growing volunteer base across Canada.

For more information on the CPAA, visit polyadvocacy.ca or email info@polyadvocacy.ca
The CPAA is on Facebook at facebook.com/polyadvocacy

I hope they're not putting too sanguine a spin on this. Ince also just put up an article on National Sexlife Journal (Nov. 23, 2011):

Court rules polyamorist relationships are lawful

by John Ince

The BC Supreme Court issued a ruling today that affects the sex-positive community in Canada. The court held that the vaguely worded 120 year old law prohibiting polygamous marriage, and originally aimed at patriarchal religious sects like those at Bountiful BC, does not apply to cohabiting polyamorous families in common law relationships.

This is a big relief to the polyamorous community in Canada. Prior to the court case the poorly worded law could have been interpreted as prohibiting any family with more than two adults.

Some polyamorous families involved in child custody disputes and immigration issues worried that simply by living together they could be considered criminals and thus lose custody of their children or be denied immigration or lose other social benefits.

The court held that the law only prohibits multi-partner families who go so far as to engage in a form of marriage.

I represented the Canadian Polyamorous Advocacy Association in the court case and I believe the decision marks an important step forward in mainstreaming polyamory in Canada.

I compare the legal situation of polyamorous folks to that of gay people in the 1950s. Then the criminal law prohibited gay relationships. But in the 1960s those laws were repealed and in a few decades the gay community grew and thrived in Canada, with gays ultimately receiving the same rights as anyone else.

I think a parallel trend is likely with polyamory. Now that the court has found that polyamorous relationships do not cause harm and are not criminal, we can expect to see polyamory gradually become social mainstreamed, exactly as gay relationships have.

While the court made clear that the vast majority of polyamorous relationships are non-harmful and non-criminal, the court did rule that the additional step of formalizing a polyamorist relationship is a criminal act. .

Nowhere does the court indicate how a loving polyamorous family who are free to live together in common law and who are causing no social harm, suddenly become criminals and socially harmful just because they seek to formalize their relationship with vows and a ceremony! In the context of their relationship, of living day in and day out in a polyamorous union, the acts of formalization seem trivial. Yet those specific acts make them criminals in the eyes of the law according to the judge.

No evidence at trial was adduced showing that such formalized polyamory caused anyone harm. There was a great deal of evidence showing that traditional religious male-dominant relationships with multiple partners created serious social problems.

But such relationships are radically different than modern, egalitarian polyamorous relationships. The polyamorous community will be interested in seeing this case appealed to correct what we see as an error in the judgment.

But aside from that, the judgment is good news for sex-positive folks in Canada.

You can listen to Ince being interviewed on CBC's "As It Happens" show nationally. (Click "Listen to Part One: (Pop-up)", or listen directly here, or download an mp3. Ince's interview begins at time 9:25.) (Nov. 23, 2011.) "As it Happens is a very high profile radio program in Canada," writes CPAA activist Carole Chanteuse. Writes Michael Rios, "One of the most striking things is that neither the interviewer nor the attorney bothered to define polyamory — it seemed as if they assumed that everyone would know what that was."

Meanwhile, a news story from the Canadian Press wire service says,

Multi-partner common-law relationships such as those described by so-called polyamorists, who claim their relationships are consensual and egalitarian, wouldn't be covered under the law. That could change if the people involved have a marriage ceremony or claim to be sanctioned by a higher authority.

Late Wednesday evening Carol Chanteuse of CPAA summed up,

We are taking a positive view overall. Polyamorous households are clearly not criminal, unless there is a "marriage" or "sanctioning event". This takes care of the vast majority of polyamorists and in a sense "ok's" our relationships. We are still assessing the court case nuances and figuring out next steps.

Among the people who are not sanguine about the decision at all is longtime polyactivist Dawn Davidson. Writing on her Uncharted Love site:

Polys Between Rock and Hard Place, Canadian-Style

November 23rd, 2011

Sadly, the news is very much NOT good for the polyamorous folks in Canada (and by extension and example, for anyone else): the judge upheld the law.... The ruling is extremely confusing, and discussion has been hot and heavy on many poly lists all day. The general conclusion, however, is that it is certainly not GOOD news for polyamorists.

...This essentially says that polyamorous relationships are just fine so long as no one anywhere tries to recognize it as a formal union of any sort. This might seem ok (especially to those who don’t support ANY marriages), but it’s important to remember that, since the law has been upheld, anyone who even participates in a non-legally-binding “marriage” ceremony, e.g., a Wiccan handfasting, or a non-religious statement of commitment, could be interpreted as having broken the law (or in the case of the person performing the ceremony, to have aided in breaking the law, which would leave them open to losing their license to perform marriages and any other certifications they might have ) — this could even include the family and friends of the people making the commitment.

At the very least, this infringes religious freedom, in my view, since it disallows “spiritual marriages,” “handfastings” and other non-legally-binding unions which are common and sometimes hold religious importance for some non-Judeo-Christian groups.

It also seems a bit like “keeping polys in their place” in a similar way to the “separate but equal” doctrines around race prior to the mid-60′s in the USA. The general tone of the arguments seems to go like this: “So long as you poly people ‘know your place’ and don’t threaten the status quo, we’ll tolerate you. But if you insist on fair and equal treatment, with the same privileges as your monogamous counterparts? Then we’ll happily fall back on a stricter interpretation of the law, criminalize your behavior, fine you, and maybe even throw you in jail. But hey, it’s up to you, poly folks: you can choose to remain ‘under the radar,’ not rock the boat, and ‘decline’ to utilize the services available to others, and then we’ll leave you alone.”...

Read her whole article.


Bauman began hearing the case a year ago. Among many intervenors presenting testimony, the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association argued that modern, egalitarian, non-exploitive group relationships, which exist by the thousands in Canada, should not be criminalized as the law seemed to do, nor should they be confused with the allegedly abusive religious cult in Bountiful, BC, that prompted the case.

You can google up lots of current news reports.

The CPAA is organizing its members and supporters to get their views into the media. A key talking point: although media have focused on the small group of Fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful (about 35 families), the vast majority of people criminalized by the law were the thousands in healthy, modern, egalitarian, polyamorous relationships all across Canada. CPAA members succeeded in getting this message into some of the media yesterday and again this evening following the CPAA press release.

Canada's anti-polygamy law, written in 1890 to target the Mormon settlers of the day, has been ignored and unenforced for many decades. It provides up to five years in prison for more than two people in "any kind of conjugal union." The definition of that was, until today, vague and sweeping: the law specifies that neither proof of sexual intercourse, nor proof of any marriage-like ceremony or agreement, were necessary for a relationship to be illegal.1

The attorney general of British Columbia brought the case in order to pursue the leaders of Bountiful's allegedly abusive cult of Mormon fundamentalists. See my previous coverage of the case; click backward on links from there.

There were no defendants. This was a "reference case" to obtain a ruling on the validity of the law itself, a procedure the Canadian system allows. Bauman's ruling is not binding but will be influential.2

The decision will very likely be appealed to the BC Court of Appeal and ultimately, to the Supreme Court of Canada.

[Update, December 21: In a surprising development, George Macintosh, the court-appointed lawyer who argued to overturn Canada’s anti-polygamy law and lost, said today he will not appeal Chief Justice Bauman’s finding.]


1 The law in its entirety (Section 293 of Canada's Criminal Code) reads:

(1) Every one who
(a) practices or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practice or enter into
(i) any form of polygamy, or
(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or
(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii),
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Evidence in case of polygamy

(2) Where an accused is charged with an offence under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse.


2 All transcripts and documents filed in the case are available in a Google Docs collection. This database was originally set up and maintained by the CPAA until the BC Attorney General's office took over the job.


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November 22, 2011

Countdown to Canada's polygamy/polyamory ruling

At 1 p.m. EST tomorrow (Wednesday Nov. 23), the Supreme Court of British Columbia will announce its ruling on the constitutionality of Canada's broad anti-polygamy and anti-polyamory law.

We'll post news here ASAP, along with the official response from the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) — whose activists and Chief Counsel plan to be in the thick of the media scrum at the Vancouver courthouse.

Their key point: Although attention has focused on the group of Fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful, BC, that prompted the case, the vast majority of people criminalized by the law are the thousands all across Canada living in healthy, modern, egalitarian, polyamorous relationships.

Already they're having some success. This just went out on the Canadian Press wire service:

Polygamy decision extends beyond isolated B.C. commune, say polyamorists

The Canadian Press
November 22, 2011 - 16:16

VANCOUVER - A group of so-called polyamorists say they're being ignored in the debate over Canada's polygamy law, and they say an imminent court decision will have implications beyond a tiny religious group in B.C.

The B.C. Supreme Court will rule on Wednesday whether the Criminal Code section banning polygamy is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The trial focused almost entirely on the small commune of Bountiful, B.C., where about 1,000 self-described fundamentalist Mormons practise multiple marriage.

But among the interveners in the case was the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, which says the current law also makes criminals out of consenting adults in relationships that happen to involve more than two people.

John Bashinski, who provided an affidavit in the case, says his group believes there are far more polyamorists across Canada than the polygamists in Bountiful, and he says the law should be struck down.

Bashinski, who lives in a household with a wife and another husband, says he's worried harmless relationships such as his are covered under the Criminal Code, and he says other laws should be used to punish abuse.

See an original.

Bashinski got a chance to say more in another Canadian Press article a few hours later:

...And then there are the polyamorists, who are in relationships with more than two people but describe them as consensual, egalitarian and often secular.

The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association was among the interveners in the B.C. case, and they argued the law as it's currently written — prohibiting any conjugal union involving more than two people — wrongly makes their relationships a crime.

John Bashinski, who provided an affidavit in the case, said his group has identified more than 100 families that fit his description of polyamory, and he believes there are many more than that.

Bashinski said the focus on Bountiful ignores a larger number of relationships that will always be afraid of being targeted if the law is not struck down.

"Given that people like me, who practise egalitarian polyamory, are actually by far the numerical majority, it's a little annoying to see ourselves constantly ignored and to see this presented as something about patriarchal systems," Bashinski said in an interview.

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that S. 293 (of the Criminal Code, which prohibits polygamy), as written, applies to my family."

In response to that argument, though, the governments point out that polygamy prosecutions are incredibly rare.

Before 2009, when the B.C. government attempted, and failed, to charge to men from Bountiful with polygamy, the most recent charges were in 1937. The last convictions were more than 100 years ago.

Bashinski said that just shows why the government should abandon the polygamy law and focus on cases of abuse.

"They want this to be a prosecutorial tool at their discretion to use against people they feel are abusive, but it concerns me that any prosecutor in Canada has the discretion to apply that tool in a different way,"

"If I were drafting the laws, I would draft laws against abuse, coercion, using pastoral authority to threaten somebody into marriage, those sorts of things. Those abuses can be addressed directly."

He noted that the RCMP launched a new investigation earlier this year into allegations that young girls from Bountiful were spirited across the border to marry much older American men.

Whole article.

In a Vancouver Sun story today:

...Those favouring striking down the law included the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, polyamorists and civil libertarians, who argued that Section 293 of the Criminal Code is overly broad, criminalizing consenting adults whose conjugal relationships are benign and even beneficial for all involved....

Yesterday on the CTV site:

...Robert Wickett, a lawyer who represents the Bountiful faction that follows James Oler, said his clients are anxious for Wednesday's decision, but he acknowledges it could be years before the case is finally settled.

...Wickett said outsiders watching the case should also remember that Bountiful residents aren't the only Canadians in polygamous relationships.

The court heard evidence of polygamous marriages elsewhere in the country, as well as so-called polyamorous relationships involving more than two people who may not necessarily claim to be married.

"The issue of polygamy is far broader than simply the people who live in fundamentalist Mormon communities. The way the Criminal Code section is drafted, depending on how the court interprets it, could have an impact on a lot more people in diverse personal relationships," he said.

"So it's not just about Bountiful."


November 21, 2011

Just for Thanksgiving giggles...

...in the style of Gary Larsen:

Source and credits.

(Okay, okay: turducken.)

Some more Thanksgiving fun: a coordinator of the Madison Area Polyamory Society in Wisconsin writes,

Since our next discussion group will be happening a couple of days before Thanksgiving, I thought it might be fun to talk about gratitude and fun things. In that spirit, we'll be looking at a fun post by Joreth, of The Inn Between, that started in Twitter and grew. Completions, playful and otherwise, to the following:

You know you're poly when...

We'll be looking at some of the responses and adding our own, as well as talking about what we're thankful for this Thanksgiving, with a special look at polyamory.

There are dozens of entries already.

Elsewhere, on his Saturnia Regna list Dave Doleshal recounts some early American history (sorry, can't find his article online) of a highly sex-positive and poly-related nature from right around the time and place of the first Thanksgivings: Ann Hutchinson vs. John Cotton and the implied background; Thomas Morton, Merry Mount, and its Maypole.... The latter episode, as Nathaniel Hawthorne later wrote, marked a cusp "when jollity and gloom were contending for an empire" — and the Puritans won. As a result, key elements are considered inappropriate for schoolbooks today. It could have come out differently.


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November 16, 2011

Open to open marriage

Open marriage seems to be getting more attention now than at any time since the first wave after Nena and George O'Neill introduced the term in 1972. The celebrity press is full of horror stories. The thinking press is having discussions about "the new monogamy" (i.e. primary-secondary non-monogamy) and what "monogamish" gay couples can teach the straight world. And pop media are describing how open relationships can work.

For instance, watch sexologist Dr. Nikki Goldstein covering some good bases during her TV appearance on "The Morning Show" in Australia (despite the dippy hosts). She stressed basic requirements of "Honesty, Trust, Boundaries, Communication," and the station displayed this list onscreen. You can also watch the segment via her website (approx. Nov. 10, 2011).

Meanwhile, last week I stepped into another massive online debate about what qualifies as "polyamory." The definition of "swinging" was brought in, and "love," and "commitment." Little was decided.

One participant was Franklin Veaux, whose funny and insightful Diagram of Non-Monogamy at right (source and background) went viral last year.

A simpler slice through this complex space, say I, would just show non-monogamy including a "Responsible Non-Monogamy" subset, which includes the smaller box "Open Relationships," which includes most of "Polyamory." The smaller boxes would extend a little outside the next larger ones, and the borders would be gray areas, not sharp lines.

Each of these boxes is smaller than the ones above it; there are certainly more open relationships than poly relationships. Open relationships are also more mainstream than polyamory. They're less paradigm-breaking and more widely understood.

What's the difference? What do people mean when they use one term rather than the other?

"Polyamory" carries a certain radical subtext: that when three or more of you are linked by romantic relationships, to some degree you are all in this together — whether intimately, or even if some of you are barely acquainted. Polyamory implies this closing of the loop of connections, no matter how tenuously. "Open relationships" do not. They're about two people agreeing they can be nonexclusive.

Several opening-your-marriage books have come out in the last three years. Here are the ones I know about. The titles link to my review if I've written one:

Open All the Way: Confessions From My Open Marriage
by Sadie Smythe (Kindle only) (2011)

Love in Abundance: A Counselor's Guide to Open Relationships
by Kathy Labriola (2010)

Love Unlimited: The Joys and Challenges of Open Relationships
by Leonie Linssen and Stephan Wik (2010)

The Art and Etiquette of Polyamory: A Hands-on Guide to Open Sexual Relationships
by Françoise Simpère (2011)

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships
by Tristan Taormino (2008)

The Ethical Slut, 2nd edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures
by Dossie Easton and Janet A. Hardy ("Catherine Lizst") (2009)

Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage
by Jenny Block (2008)

BTW, here are all nine of my poly book reviews so far.



November 15, 2011

"Get Ready for Group Marriage"

Institute for American Values; Huffington Post

Elizabeth Marquardt directs the Center for Marriage and Families at the conservative Institute for American Values, and she edits the institute's FamilyScholars.org. With a Canadian court about to rule next week on Canada's anti-polygamy and anti-polyamory law, Marquardt has posted an article at the Huffington Post blogs. It's more descriptive than argumentative:

Get Ready for Group Marriage

Is the prospect of group marriage far-fetched? Probably not. There are several avenues that could soon lead to legal recognition of unions involving three or more people. The efforts come from the fringes of the left, from the darkest corners of the fundamentalist right, and from the laboratories of fertility clinics and hard scientists around the world.

From the fringy left: Polyamory

Polyamory describes relationships of three or more people -- it literally means "many loves." Polyamorists say they practice "ethical non-monogamy," or relationships that emphasize open communication, respect, and fair treatment of one another.

The debate about legal recognition of polyamorous relationships is already well underway....

...If polyamorists are too busy juggling multiple intimate relationships to have time to push for marriage rights, their supporters might fight the battle for them. In an influential document, "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships," released in 2006, over three hundred gay and lesbian activists and their supporters--including attorneys, academics, grassroots leaders, and luminaries such as Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, and well-known professors from the Ivy Leagues--called for "legal recognition for a wide range of relationships, households and families" including "households in which there is more than one conjugal partner."

From the radical right: Polygamy....

From the labs: Three-person reproduction

Another route to legalized group marriage could evolve via new court decisions and expert proposals that recognize group-parenting arrangements. Judges in the U.S. and Canada have already given legal parental status to a sperm donor father whose offspring had two legal mothers -- resulting in the first instances ever in which a child has three legal parents....

...All of which begs questions: How do children feel when they are raised by three or more persons called their parents, especially when those people disagree? If their three-plus parents break up, how many homes do we expect these children to travel between?....

Get ready for the debate. And in the meantime, wedding planners: start figuring out how many brides and grooms you can fit down that aisle.

Read the whole article (Nov. 15, 2011).

The article is a condensation of her recent report One Parent or Five: A Global Look at Today's Intentional Families, issued by the Institute for American Values's Commission on Parenthood’s Future. Here's a critic taking it apart for superficiality and weak scholarship.



November 10, 2011

Canadian legal ruling coming November 23

The Supreme Court of British Columbia will issue its long-awaited ruling on the legality of Canada's 120-year-old anti-polygamy and anti-polyamory law on November 23rd at 1 p.m. EST.

The 1890s law, originally written to target the Mormon settlers of the time and unenforced for generations, provides five years in prison for more than two people in a marriage-like relationship, vaguely defined.1 The attorney general of British Columbia is seeking to revive the law as a means to prosecute leaders of an allegedly abusive cult of Mormon fundamentalists in the village of Bountiful, BC. See my previous coverage of the case; click backward on links from there.

The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA; logo at right) presented testimony that modern, egalitarian, non-exploitive group households, which exist across Canada, should not be criminalized or confused with abusive cults. The CPAA is gearing up its members to react to the announcement. Its lawyer, John Ince, will attend Chief Justice Robert Bauman's pre-announcement briefing that morning for the many attorneys in the case, which will allow Ince an extra 90 minutes or so to prepare an initial public statement.


Meanwhile: The activists of the CPAA have, in the two years since they came together, certainly raised Canadians' awareness that polyamory exists, that it can work well, and that healthy poly households exist in everyday society. The CPAA has been especially visible in the Vancouver area, where the case was heard. Its members have staged successful public forums, and they have become effective at mobilizing people to respond to items in news media (for instance, this confused and definitionally-challenged newspaper rant in Edmonton, Alberta, last week).

As an example of their visibility, this popped up in the Vancouver Sun's coverage of Vancouver's Pride Parade last July 31st:

A dapper cadre of polyamory supporters who held signs including “Love knows no limits” had the crowd reaching for their dictionaries, then contemplating their living arrangements.

A few weeks earlier on Vancouver.Openfile.ca:

Is polyamory “the new gay”?

By Peter Tupper

In early April, more than 100 people crowded into The Junction on Davie Street for an event billed as “What is Polyamory?” The majority of them were already practicing, or at least familiar with, polyamory, the practice of consensual non-monogamy, including relationship styles ranging from open marriage to swinging to multi-partner marriage to group families.

Presented by the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA), the evening's panel included Janet W. Hardy, co-author of The Ethical Slut, a book often cited as the bible of polyamory; Seattle's Terisa Greenan, creator of the "Family" web video series; John Ince, legal counsel for the CPAA and co-owner of the Art of Loving adult store; and Kiki Christie from Victoria's Poly 101 discussion group....

...“Polyamory really is the new gay. We, the polyamory community, are now really where the gay community was in the [19]60s," says Ince, director and legal counsel of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association and a polyamorist himself. "They were facing a law that had been enacted a hundred years before. They decided it wasn’t acceptable anymore to live in the closet, they started to create community. This is exactly what is happening with the polyamory community in the 21st century."

Robert, a 40-year-old polyamorist architect from Vancouver, was one of the panel's attendees. “We’re not the stereotypical Mormon polygamist situation where children are at harm and women are at harm, which the law is technically directed towards," he says. "But unfortunately the law is so vague that it puts us into that category and the court case, now that we’ve brought ourselves forward as part of the court case.”

Like many polyamorists, his family relationships requires a bit of explanation. “Right now I have a wife but she has a co-partner. We live together. We have two children. I have another partner that I’m seeing,” he says. “My wife has her partner and he’s not seeing anybody. Then she’s with me, I’m with my partner and she’s got her husband. It just keeps going in this chain like that.”

...Robert and his wife evolved from seeing other people to including them into their household and family life. “There’s lots of love in the house. There’s a lot of communication, and I think it’s brought us all closer together. I get a lot of happiness and joy from seeing my wife happy with her partner. I like how my kids have embraced all three of us. There’s benefits to co-parenting.”

Robert suggests that many more people live in poly arrangements than those who identify themselves by the term. “I think that polyamory is not as much a fringe behaviour as I think we think it is. I think a lot of people don’t even know the term. A lot of people, I think, feel this way," he says. "I think that part of the task here is to become strong within ourselves and then to help other people explore and see if this is what they think will work for them.”...

Read the whole article (May 27, 2011).

From a Canadian website called The420.org:

...The CPAA provided affidavits of five polyamorous families from BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec telling about their egalitarian family situations and their fears with respect to this overbroad, vague criminal law. The CPAA has also filed extensive evidence in support of polyamory, showing that it is much more than a “fringe” movement, is not harmful and, it also has something of value to offer to people and society in communication and mediation techniques alone....

Read the whole article (May 15, 2011).

Last June the CPAA received donations collected during the North-America-wide Poly House Party Weekend. In thank-you letters, Carole Chanteuse of CPAA wrote,

The litigation seems to be having a salutary effect for polyamory everywhere. I see that it is cited in the Kody Brown case in the US, and I hope that our American polyamorous friends will be able to benefit from the work and research we have pulled together, as we have benefited from your advice and the support of other American polyamory activists.

Locally, in my own area of Canada (Vancouver) we are finding that the combination of the litigation — with all the discussion about polyamory that hit the local and national press — and our local hosting of a polyamory forum (with some emphasis on engaging under-30's who are already exploring polyamory for themselves) have led to a huge increase in interest in polyamory and the creation of a number of new local meets (men's, women's, queer, and a "Poly 101" group, as well as the existing Vanpoly group).


1 The law in its entirety (Section 293 of Canada's Criminal Code) reads:

(1) Every one who
        (a) practices or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practice or enter into
               (i) any form of polygamy, or
               (ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or
        (b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii),
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Evidence in case of polygamy

(2) Where an accused is charged with an offence under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse.



November 6, 2011

Are gay media becoming less fearful? Profiles of MMM triads.

Gay Express (New Zealand)

Long-term gay partners agree on some form of non-monogamy more often than straight couples do, though gay spokespeople sometimes act embarrassed by this fact and try to sweep it under the rug.

Gay-marriage advocates in particular often mirror the straight trope that young people will sow their wild oats and then want to settle down into monogamy. But as with straights, some do, some don't. Gay media gradually seem to be getting more forthright about reporting on committed couples in open relationships — and, less often, on fully poly households of three or more.

There's even a term for a gay triad — a thruple — that I don't see used elsewhere.

Two San Francisco thruples were recently profiled in GayExpress, New Zealand's only gay magazine:

Three’s no crowd

By Leif Wauters

You can call them three-ways, but that more often refers to a purely physical encounter. Triad is the most common name used, although I lovingly conjured up the phrase “thruple” in reference to this variety of relationship that is gaining more and more acceptance. It’s not for everyone, and perhaps shouldn’t be for some, but when it works, it really works. It brings out the best in each member and can open up incredible opportunities for love and companionship.

I’ll venture thruples are more common than you’d expect as many prefer to keep their unions private....

Mike and Race had dabbled in a thruple before meeting Jim [they're all pictured above], with both of their personalities being open to this type of union. “Neither of us has a monogamous nature. In fact, we’re seriously dedicated to non-monogamy and were from the time we started dating.” It was a first for Jim, however, spawned not by any type of need but by how truly special he found Mike and Race. “At one point I said something like ‘If I could put the two of you together you’d make the perfect husband’,” says Jim, “so it seemed natural to pursue it.”

It might amaze you but they faced very few hurdles becoming a thruple, with most of those in the first few months. Truly a testament to the belief that the right relationships are meant to be – they just click – and they believe that their combined love isn’t really much different than that between two people. “It’s about communication, caring, etc. It’s the same stuff as pairs have, but there are four relationships going on, each with each other and then the three together. You have to honour each of the four dynamics to make it work.”...

While the magic of Mike, Race and Jim’s relationship continues, others’ attempts haven’t lasted as long. Not to say they still aren’t a family, but Daniel, Dave and Ken (known in global bear circles as DaDaKe) committed an inspiring level of love and energy to maintaining their thruple in the time they spent together.

In 2001, Daniel and Dave were married in San Francisco, just two magical years after they’d met. Five years down the road, Dave encounter a tall, tattooed force of love from Atlanta named Ken while at Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) in Washington DC. Their initial relationship leaned more towards that of long distance daddy/boy bond, but when Daniel entered the mix, the dynamic shifted dramatically. Dave recalls Daniel and Ken’s first meeting quite clearly. “Ken flew to SF for my birthday (May 2007) and I think I could actually see Daniel fall in love with him at first sight. It was that immediate.”

Ken’s shares the same view of how their relationship blossomed. “After I came out in May and met Daniel, the balance obviously shifted with an intense attraction on all sides, far beyond the physical. From May to November, Daniel and I had the chance to have our ‘courting’ phase, as Dave and I had the previous few months.”...

...“Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more; no subject is taboo,” says Daniel, a perspective shared by all six men. “Allot time for each of the four relationships: the three pairs, and the thruple. During intense discussions between a pair, the third should not take sides and help them think out of the box (“Have you considered…”). Ken also strongly adds that people should “not try to force a triad into the mould of a two-person heterosexual relationship. Triads are a break in tradition. Allow your version to find the level of relationship that it needs, and be open to it when that form changes over time.”

Read the whole article (Sept. 6, 2011). Thanks to Sarah Taub for spotting it.

Here are all my poly-gay related articles in the last two years (including this one; scroll down).


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November 3, 2011

MFM triad tell their story on CNN's Anderson Show

A few days ago, fresh off their appearance in the November Details magazine, the vee triad of Jaiya Ma, Jon Hanauer and Ian Ferguson were bubbling about being interviewed in New York by CNN's Anderson Cooper. Cooper does a nightly news show ("Anderson Cooper 360°") and a daytime talk show ("Anderson"). He's one of the most-watched news/talk personalities on television.

Today (November 3) Jaiya, Jon, and Ian appeared on the daytime talk show telling about their MFM family, how they got together, the toddler they birthed and are raising, whether they share a bed (you knew he was going to ask that, and they were ready), and what their poly ideals are all about. The host also brought on a former date of Ian's who said it was too weird for her. They excelled when responding to an audience member concerned about their child.

Judging by the clips on the show's website (I didn't see the show broadcast), I would say they did us proud — animated, expressive, confident, fun to watch, on-message — a credit to our image. Shows like this are making the concept known and understood to the world at large. They reveal to poly people who are still isolated that they're not the only ones on Earth. And for the rest of us, I think these things are gradually making it easier to be out.

Here's the web page for the episode, with five video clips from the interview; scroll down the page. The official blurb:

Anderson talks to an extraordinary family in which the woman has two boyfriends. Anderson explores whether or not a polyamorous relationship can work when a child is involved, and the audience speaks up.

This is Episode 1039. I don't find full show anywhere online (unless you're viewing from Canada; thanx to wolf_of_thor). But the website's clips cover 7 minutes of the interview, topic by topic.

Here's a separate video the site put up, on their home life:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Also on the site are a couple of polls: Can you be emotionally connected to two people at once? and Would you date someone in a polyamorous relationship?.

And comments. Lots of comments. Go join the fun.

The show even posts a link to the triad's How To Love Openly page promoting their upcoming free video, "The 4 Keys to Transforming Jealousy." You can sign up there for their newsletter.

Next up? Look for the three on CBS's Inside Edition. No date yet.

Incidently, a commenter on Jaiya's Facebook page notes,

Most people don't know that Anderson Cooper is son of Gloria Vanderbilt -- a descendant of the Cornelius Vanderbilt who was one of the country's first multi-millionaires. She was a bit of a libertine herself, a bohemian. (Ours is not the first generation to try to take on institutionalized norms.) Anderson may have felt more affinity for you than you suspected.


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