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

September 15, 2020

Cambridge delays action on nation's second domestic poly-partnership law

Cambridge City Hall
Polyamory activists nationwide hoped that last night's meeting of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, City Council would expand the city's domestic partnership law to allow for polyamorous families of three or more adults, as neighboring Somerville did on June 29.

It didn't happen. But that may be a good sign, not a bad one. 

At 1:10 in the morning, more than seven hours into a contentious City Council meeting with an overloaded agenda, Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui postponed consideration of the multiple-domestic-partnership ordinance until next week or later. She explained that the city lawyer did not yet have materials ready, and that recommendations for changes to the proposed ordinance may come from the city's LGBTQ+ Commission and other interested parties.

Those changes may include the improvement to the definition of what a qualifying polyamorous partnership can be, making it more realistic for many poly people, that Kimberly Rhoten has proposed and describes below. Rhoten, who holds a law degree, is a local legal activist for poly and LGBTQ+ issues who has been on this since at least June.

The City Council next meets in six days, on September 21. The ordinance may not be finalized and ready for "second reading" and passage by that time. The measure's approval on July 27 to go to second reading, by a Council vote of 6-0 with two abstentions and one absence, suggests that it's very likely to be enacted when it next comes up.

But first it needs significant work, says Rhoten, currently a graduate student at Boston University. This is from a post they made to New England Polyamory on September 11:

Polyam/CNM Legislative Update and Information: 

While I hope we can celebrate this step forward for our communities' legal protection, I also hope we can take a moment to be critical of the alarming ways in which the most current draft of Cambridge's legislation [is inadequate]:

– You can only be in ONE domestic partnership with multiple people [as the legislation is currently drafted]. You cannot be in multiple domestic partnerships with multiple individuals. Meaning, if anyone of those individuals dies or is no longer involved with any one other person in that domestic partnership, the whole partnership dissolves and is terminated. There is a "cooling off" period before you can refile, leaving folks without each other's health insurance and/or other benefits during that time. You would then have to refile again for the remaining people. For more information on why this is a legal and bureaucratic nightmare, see analysis by Infinity_8p.

– If you are married, you can only enter into a domestic partnership if your spouse is in that relationship configuration as well.

– If your domestic partnership is in some way legally contested (by insurance companies, your employer, the City itself for example), you must submit evidence of "how you hold your relationship out to the world."...That's right, evidence of how you out your relationship to the world around you.

...Again, heck yes, celebrate the second city caring about polyamorous relationships, but also maybe someday we'll see something better, more representative of the complex relationships our communities have, and more protective of our right to disclose our relationships to the world at our own pace and safety.


– Somerville did an excellent job in wording their ordinance, which allows multiple two-person domestic partnerships as well as all-in ones, depending on what the folks engaging in them actually want.

– Here is the email I sent the LGBTQ+ Commission of Cambridge when they were reviewing the draft:

...2) Issue: The Ordinance's Failure to Provide Appropriate Dyadic Domestic Partnerships

The current ordinance would require that a polyamorous persons be in only one domestic partnership at a time. Though there may be multiple people in that partnership, the ordinance would only permit that one domestic partnership be used to cover all persons involved. This is exceptionally problematic. First, it fails to consider situations in which a polyamorous persons' family does not all consider each other family. For example, consider a polyamorous women, lets call her Miranda, living together for the last 20 years with her two life partners, Bob and Tom. Bob and Tom are not dating nor would they consider each other family yet they both consider Miranda family and Miranda considers each of them family. The current ordinance would not be capable of providing appropriate protection and recognition for Miranda. Note that the ordinance would require that Miranda submit evidence that all three of them operate and consider themselves a three person family, which is not the case. In contrast, a dyadic option (which is exactly what the City of Somerville aptly and correctly provided to the City's polyamorous constituents) would allow Miranda to register her two dyad domestic partnerships: one with Bob and one with Tom.

Why is this a problem (besides of course, not recognizing the structure of Miranda's family)? According to Cambridge's current law (which is unchanged by this new ordinance) Section 2.119.030 Registration and Termination, the death of one person in the domestic partnership would dissolve the entire domestic partnership for all persons in it. For Miranda, Bob and Tom, this would mean that if Tom passes away, Bob and Miranda are now no longer legally partnered. Whereas, by using Somerville's dyadic approach, for the case of Miranda, Bob and Tom, the death of Tom would not destroy the domestic partnership Miranda has with Bob.

This exact issue would also arise if [irreconcilable] differences surface between any person in the domestic partnership and anyone else. If these two individuals decide to terminate the partnership, it would obliterate the rest of the family's legal standing rather than solely the legal standing between these two persons. And, according to Section 2.119.030(E) none of the domestic partners in this former multi-person partnership may file another domestic partnership until six months have elapsed from termination, leaving this family completely unprotected legally for half a year.

The issues with this type of legal recognition for polyamorous persons is well known, documented, and discussed by long time poly activists.

Recommendation: Strike provision 2.119.020(D)(5) from the proposed ordinance.

Rhoten tells me this morning, "The last time the City Council looked at this [July 27] they sought additional comment and guidance from the LGBTQ+ Commission and the city solicitor [city lawyer]. I and a few others commented to the LGBTQ+ Commission, but they haven't really followed up with me. They meet once a month." Its next meeting is September 24th. The minutes of its August meeting won't be available until they are approved at the September meeting.

"I hope they have adjusted their language to include a dyadic approach [multiple separate, two-person domestic partnerships] just like Somerville did," says Rhoten. "I think it would be incredibly problematic for municipalities to start passing legislation that doesn't do that."

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September 11, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup – Jealousy and compersion for beginners, Black polyactivists represent on talk show, and cuddly polyfam goes very public

Welcome back to Friday Polynews Roundup, for September 11, 2020. 

It was a thin week for polyamory in the media; the various growing national crises are pushing "non-essential" topics toward the media sidelines. But three items of note: 

●  Remember the Porter polyfamily in Houston? They've been busy doing poly education and awareness work in the Black community, and they appeared last February on The Isiah Factor talk show on Houston's Fox 26 TV.

They've been involved with Black Poly Nation, have spoken at any number of community groups, and they've appeared on shows in both new and old media. Now they have a book out, and Fox 26 host Isiah Carey brought them back for a 4-minute segment, Catching up with the polyamorous Porter family (Sept. 4). Watch here:

The host couldn't be more appreciative, though he's still incredulous. See more about the book at their website, ThePortahFamily.com. Here's their well-stocked YouTube channelFacebook page. Their other media and podcast appearances

●  More in the Department of What Poly Practices Can Offer Everyone, this time in The Greatist: Compersion Is the Opposite of Jealousy, and We All Should Learn It (Sept. 10)

By Melissa Fabello

When people learn that I practice nonmonogamy, one of the first questions that they ask me is “How do you handle jealousy?”

To which, I respond, “How do you?”

...Jealousy shows up in all kinds of relationships, and when it makes us intensely uncomfortable, we find ourselves doing anything to avoid feeling it.

It’s no wonder so many people feel confident saying “I could never do nonmonogamy; it would make me too jealous.” While choosing one relationship structure over another is a valid personal choice, that reasoning is misguided.

By that logic, I would never try anything new, for fear of embarrassment. I would never watch a tearjerker, for fear of sadness. I would never go on a rollercoaster, for fear of, well, fear. How many amazing things would we refuse to do, if we were equally avoidant of other uncomfortable feelings?

So what is it about jealousy that makes us so uniquely uncomfortable?

In talking with thousands of people about their experiences with jealousy, in my work as a sex and relationships educator, it appears that where people get stuck is in feeling like jealousy is an unacceptable emotion. ...

But... what if we let jealousy be like every other emotion that we feel — an indicator that our nervous system is asking us to pay attention to something?

Let’s start here: Jealousy is a perfectly healthy emotion

...Jealousy alerts you that a situation doesn’t feel good to you — and asks you to sort out how to regain a sense of safety and security. So why would you want to get rid of it? That sounds like an adaptive emotional response to me! ...

Like with any emotion, the key is being careful of what you do with it. ...

(Kathy Labriola's Jealousy Workbook
isn't mentioned in the article, but
it's very recommendable here

So how do we start changing our response to jealousy?

...When I was a community educator for a local domestic violence agency, I co-taught workshops on healthy relationships for middle and high school students. And in that work, we would make a distinction between jealousy and extreme jealousy, where the latter indicates a response that sets out to control other people. ...

When does jealousy cross the line into possessiveness? ...

How compersion can help relieve the discomfort of jealousy. ...

Compersion is the positive vicarious feeling of seeing someone you love have their needs met.

...Seeing your partner happy doesn’t always feel like jealousy or disappointment or rage. Most of the time, it feels like compersion.

Compersion is essentially the opposite of jealousy, and it’s an experience we talk about a lot in nonmonogamy. ... Jealousy, at the end of the day, is your nervous system alerting you to a threat to your safety. ... You can change how you approach that feeling. Instead of “How can I remove the threat from my partner’s life, and therefore mine?” ask “What is this telling me? What do I need to feel safe again?” ...

●  And you knew it was coming. This week's polyfamily heart-melter in the British tabloids is about the @PolyamCatfam, the adorkable young MNbF triad you'd dream of going on a picnic with. It's in the Daily Mail September 7: Couple who invited an old school friend to form a throuple claim it's EASIER than a normal relationship because you're not putting pressure on just one person to fulfil your needs.

Excerpts, and a few of the pix:

 Brandon, Eli and Amber

Music teacher Amber Parker, 24, and boyfriend Brandon Meadows, 23, from Muskegon, Michigan, first met on dating app Tinder in January 2017 and their initial attraction soon blossomed into an official relationship. Amber and Brandon were strictly monogamous at first, but discussed the possibility of opening their relationship up to a third person.

It wasn't until New Year's Eve 2018 when they met one of Brandon's old school friends, Eli Schalk, 21, at a party, that they realised that Eli, who is non-binary, could be the perfect person to add to their relationship. 

...'We had a good time playing board games and talking with friends, and the next day or so, we all mentioned to each other that we thought each other were attractive, and that we wanted to talk and see each other more.'

The three continued to hang out together and bonded over interests they had in common, such as art. 

...When they first formed a triad, Amber admits that there was some jealousy, but with honest and open communication all issues were resolved. 

'In the beginning of our relationship, there were frequent moments of possessive and jealous feelings, but we would talk through them every time they arose and got to the root of each issue.

'Since we were open to communication from the beginning, those moments don't happen much anymore, if at all.

'The hardest part to me is dealing with the fear of judgement and assumptions from others, but that fear has almost dissipated as well.

'We have learned many things from each other and the triad experience as a whole. Eli has taught me more about incorporating science and spirituality into my daily life. Brandon has shown me growth and structure, and both have shown me what is possible when humans genuinely care for each other and themselves simultaneously.

...'The assumption that multiple partners must be a result of cheating or manipulation is just as silly as the assumption that monogamy is always a result of possessiveness and jealousy.

'We all just want to love and everyone loves differently. Any support and happiness we can get on this planet should be encouraged and celebrated.'

...'Some people have asked about our sex life as soon as they find out we aren't monogamous.... Then some feel the need to tell us if they would sleep with a man, with a transgender person or with two people, when we really never asked for that information.'

...Amber said: 'Polyamory helps us meet our romantic wants and needs in a way that doesn't put unrealistic expectations on one given person. 

'Instead of wishing one person would be more cuddly, I can have cuddle time with both of them.

'Instead of wishing I was into a certain show or book, they could talk about their shared interests with each other.

'There is a lot more to it, but in essence there is more love, communication and perspective in our relationship than previous monogamous relationships we have been in.'


For the most part, the reaction to their relationship is incredibly positive and those close to them are supportive.

Amber, Eli and Brandon plan to buy a house together one day, adopt children, and would like to see the day when marriage between three people is legal. ... 'We want to grow old together and support each other through life.'

...They document their lives as a throuple on their Instagram account @polyamcatfam, which also features their much-loved pets. 

The cats outnumber them 5 - 3.

That's it for Friday Polynews Roundup till next week, unless something big comes up sooner. Which it may (hint hint), from Cambridge, Mass.

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September 4, 2020

Friday Polynews Roundup: New novel "Poly." Open-relationship therapist in the news. "I moved my lover in with my man," and more

Welcome to Friday Polynews Roundup for September 4, 2020.

●  A novel is out this week titled Poly, by Paul Dalgarno in Australia. The publisher's blurb:

Author and book

Chris Flood – a married father of two with plummeting self-esteem and questionable guitar skills – suddenly finds himself in the depths of polyamory after years of a near-sexless marriage. His wife, Sarah – a lover of the arts, avid quoter of Rumi, and always oozing confidence – wants to rediscover her sexuality after years of deadening domesticity.
Their new life of polyamory features late nights, love affairs and rotating childcare duties. While Sarah enjoys flings with handsome men, Chris, much to his astonishment, falls for a polydactylous actor and musician, Biddy.
Then there’s Zac Batista. When Chris and Sarah welcome the Uruguayan child prodigy and successful twenty-two-year-old into their lives they gratefully hand over school pick-up and babysitting duties. But as tensions grow between family and lovers, Chris begins to wonder if it’s just jealousy, or something more sinister brewing…
A searing and utterly engrossing debut, Poly is a raw, hilarious, and moving portrait of contemporary relationships in all their diversity, and an intimate exploration of the fragility of love and identity. 

The Guardian gave Dalgarno space for a first-person article: 'Do you get jealous?' The six questions I always get asked about being polyamorous (Sept. 2). Excerpts:

Paul Dalgarno has had a wife for 15 years, and another partner for four. He gets asked the same questions a lot

‘Polyamorous relationships are as varied as any other straight, gay, lesbian, asexual or wholly platonic relationship.’ (nadia_bormotova/Getty/iStockphoto)

Tell people you’re polyamorous and a few common questions will almost certainly be coming your way. I know this because I’m polyamorous – by default, if I’m honest, rather than by some deeply held philosophy. My wife of 15 years, in addition to being my wife, has other partners. I also have another partner, of four years, who (to date) seems to have no interest in pursuing a romantic relationship with anyone other than me. Go me!

Which segues nicely into the first thing non-polyamorous people are likely to ask you:

What are the rules?

Easy. There are none, except for those set by the people involved. “How-to” books such as More Than Two and The Ethical Slut offer some valuable frameworks and considerations for polyamorous and non-monogamous relationships, but that’s about as far as it goes. And even if there were pre-existing rules, who wants to be the person trying to enforce them?

... I’ve read as widely as I can on the subject and the advice I’ve found most useful comes not from the literature on polyamory but from the motto for the annual Meredith music festival: Don’t be a dickhead.

Do you get jealous?

No, never. OK, I’m lying. But the fact we have the word “compersion” – for the joyful sensation associated with seeing your partner enjoying a happy romantic or sexual connection with someone else – suggests that, in fact, some people can operate with only minimal or passing feelings of jealousy. In my case, jealousy has triggered everything from spontaneously smashing the tiles on my bathroom wall with my fist to panic attacks that haven’t just given the impression I’m dying – I’ve been convinced I really am dying, my lungs collapsing under the heavy existential fear that I’m going to be left alone....

Multiple partners … so you think you’re really hot, then?

Um, see above.

Polyamory, unlike consecutive monogamous relationships and their hidden affairs, gives a unique opportunity for real-time, in-your-face A/B testing. While your new partner or partners, high on new relationship energy, may be primed to respond to your carefully crafted selfies enthusiastically, your longer-term partner or partners may not. They’ve seen you, they know you and, miraculously, they still want to be with you.

What about STIs?

Yes, they exist – with problems ranging from all sorts of undesirable genital conditions to Aids to infertility. But condoms can definitely assist, in much the same way as wearing a face mask and washing your hands for 20 seconds can help amid a deadly pandemic. Are any of those precautions foolproof? No. But they help.

Do you split your time equally between partners?

More accurately, in my experience, you split your time completely between partners. Forget about those quiet moments to yourself and the good old days of feeling bored to tears by your own company. ...

Do you feel in control?

OK, nobody’s ever actually asked me this, but I’ve asked myself on numerous occasions. And the answer every time is no. Because the hard-to-swallow truth is that none of us, in any meaningful way, has any control over anything. You might disagree but you’d be wrong – you really don’t.

And that’s maybe the toughest and most beautiful lesson polyamory has to offer. If you truly love somebody and choose to set them free, they may not come back to you, but the reality of it is liberating: they were never yours in the first place.

The gay paper Out in Perth (Australia) prints a synposis: Paul Dalgarno delivers polyamorous romantic drama in ‘Poly’ (by Lezly Herbert, Sept. 2). The story starts out as a romp, but then mister dark horse enters the picture: 

It is a wild ride for the reader as they are thrown into observing the chaos generated when multiple partners are mixed with multiple drugs and copious amounts of alcohol. Dalgarno also includes mental health issues that impact on contemporary relationships as several of the male characters are suffering anxiety and/or depression along with questioning their masculinity.

Just when Chris and Sarah decide to rent a larger house so Zac can live with them, their lives are further thrown into turmoil when they discover that Zac may have been lying to them about a whole lot of things. Well, actually, all the characters are doing a certain amount of lying, but Zac’s motivations might be more sinister than the rest.

●  Elsewhere, open-relationship therapist and book author Susan Wentzel got a nice profile in the Winnipeg Free Press where's she's a local: Kissing monogamy goodbye (online Sept. 3).

By Jen Zoratti 

Before she literally wrote a book on open relationships, Winnipeg sex and relationship therapist Susan Wenzel was in a monogamous marriage with her husband Denys.

That is, until, he came to her wanting to discuss opening their marriage.

"It was a very scary time for me, because I had that idea of monogamy," she recalls. "I remember feeling very dizzy, very confused, very hurt. All that anxiety kicks in." She even kicked him out.

That was eight years ago. Now, Wenzel, 41, and her husband, also 41, are in a consensual non-monogamous open marriage, which means they are free to pursue relationships with other people — and she’s never been happier.

Susan Wenzel and her husband, Denys Volkov

"I wanted something for people who are considering opening their relationship, so they could have a guide," says Wenzel, who has worked with many couples who are either curious about open relationships or are currently in one through her therapy practice. Their struggles and challenges were familiar to her, and she shares her own story in the book.

"(The book) doesn’t advocate, it doesn’t say, ‘non-monogamy is the way to go’ — it just says, ‘if you are in a non-monogamous relationship or you’re considering opening up your relationship, this is a book that will help you maintain and navigate that relationship well.’"

..."Hearing a different story can really throw people off. People get very triggered when they hear about open relationships because of their own fears. ... It’s like, ‘How come you guys are so happy and you’re living this lifestyle that is not the norm to many people?’ But then they see we haven’t changed, we’re still relatable.

...At first, Wenzel’s newly opened relationship was fraught, governed by control, fear and jealousy. Wenzel began to look inward in order to answer a question that both scared and excited her: "What would happen if I embraced this?" Through her own personal growth, she was able to pinpoint that a large source of her anxiety related to a childhood-rooted fear of abandonment.

"But that’s a story I tell myself because my partner is there for me in so many ways," she says. "I know he’s reliable and dependable — that doesn’t change because he’s seeing someone else."

...Wenzel and her husband have two kids, a 14-year-old son and a 13-year-old-daughter. The idea of a different family unit wasn’t completely unfamiliar to them: their Kenyan grandfather, Wenzel’s father, has two wives. "My son says, ‘No, that’s not for me’ and my daughter says, "It makes sense, sometimes I like different people,’" Wenzel says.

The couple maintains boundaries with their children: general questions only; their sex lives are not up for discussion.

..."One belief system I changed is, ‘My husband is not the source of my happiness. I am the source of my happiness.’ ... And also to know that he came into this life to do his life, and for me to do my life — and maybe we can walk alongside each other and do that life together."

Wenzel views her open relationship as a gift that has allowed her to grow in all areas of her life.

"It’s not the open relationship that brought me happiness," she says. "It’s the work around it."

A couple other articles about Wenzel, from last March when her book came out: Yes, you can have a healthy, happy open relationship. Here’s how, in Canada's gay paper Xtra (March 2).

And the mistitled Why this sex therapist says you should be in an open marriage, in, of all places, the ugly and creepy New York Post (March 9).

●  Department of Happy Polyfams in the Tabs. This latest one comes from tabloid content supplier Hotspot Media, so expect it to show up in the British tabloids and around the world. The first version to cross my screen is from That's Life! in Australia: I moved my lover in with my man! (Sept. 1)

With two boyfriends, Sunny Saap admits that her relationships are far from conventional.

Now, with the three adults living under one roof together, she's adamant that they've become one big, happy family!

As told to Candice Fernandez, Hotspot Media

My eldest daughter shrieked with laughter as she jumped onto the swings.

Then, her dad, Matt, 34, pushed her up into the air.

‘Higher, Daddy!’ London, three, squealed.

Beside me, my boyfriend Kody, 27, held our daughter Thea, two months.

I’d been in a polyamorous relationship with Matt and Kody for two years, which meant we all consented to non-monogamy.

I loved them both, while they loved me, but to each other they were just friends.

I’d met Matt first, four years earlier, when we lived in the same apartment building. ...

Eventually, I plucked up the courage to [ask] Matt.

‘What if we opened up our relationship?’ I asked. ‘It doesn’t mean I don’t love you,’ I added.

We chatted for hours and Matt understood.

‘We can try it,’ he smiled.


...He was tall and handsome with muscular arms.

As we chatted, I pointed to Matt in the distance.

‘That’s my partner,’ I said.

Kody’s face dropped.

‘You’re not single,’ he muttered.

‘We’re open,’ I explained.

Kody looked confused, even more so when Matt appeared and shook his hand!

...They need to become friends, I thought, texting Kody to come over.

When Kody arrived, Matt made us coffee and soon we were all laughing.

From then on, Kody came around for dinner once a week and he and Matt bonded further.

...One day, Matt and I were cleaning the spare room.

‘Why doesn’t Kody come and live with us?’ he asked. ‘He could stay in this room with you, then we can swap around,’ he offered.

...It felt so normal to live with them both. And from then on, I swapped between bedrooms each night.

It was perfect.

We even broke the news to our parents, and after the initial shock, they gave us their blessing.

Soon after that, Kody and I sat down with Matt.

‘Kody and I want to have a child,’ I said.

‘I’d love to be a dad too,’ Kody added.

‘That’s amazing,’ Matt said.


...In March 2019, Matt and Kody were both by my side when I gave birth to a little girl named Thea.

With our new addition, our family has gone from strength to strength.

Matt and Kody have since become like brothers.

‘Mummy, Daddy, Kody!’ London squeals when she runs into a room.

Whenever we go out together, I swap between holding Matt and Kody’s hands.

Sometimes strangers give us funny looks, but we don’t care.

Both Matt and Kody love me very much. And I love them.

Now, I can’t imagine being in a conventional couple.

I’m so lucky and grateful to have two wonderful men in my life.

Dismiss the tabs as junk media if you like, but they are powerful opinion shapers for the bottom third. For instance, in the UK they had a lot to do with Brexit passing in 2016, and in the US they helped to wildly demonize Hillary Clinton that year. We're a lot better off with them gushing for us rather than otherwise; just ask your Trumpie co-worker or your dotty great-aunt.

But no illusions here — they run these stories only because they sell.


●  PolyDallas conference to be held online November 6-8. Most everything on the 2020 calendar of polycons got canceled due to covid after March, but some moved online. Next online will be PolyDallas Millennium, organized by Ruby Johnson, centering polys of color. She writes, "PDM is a symposium that brings queer, trans, and nonbinary POC who are nonmonogamous together to educate one another, celebrate our love, and liberate our voices in a space that is affirming, safe, and accessible. We are bringing that same mission, vision, and passion to a virtual space. Our theme celebrates the abundance, liberation, and unlimited possibilities of love."  Conference page.  Facebook page.

●  Then comes PolyCon Canada, November 22-23.  "Honouring Diversity in our Communities. Live-streamed hosting, interactive chat and video segments, exploring diversity in the polyamory communities across Canada (and globally) and where polyamory intersects with other aspects of individual and community experiences. Wanted -- video clips 5 to 15 min long. Presentations, workshop in a nutshell, music performances, author readings, etc. These are meant to be fodder for discussion."  Facebook event page.

Are you hosting an online event that oughta be mentioned here? Write me! alan7388(AT)gmail.com

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