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

February 9, 2021

In newspapers all over, Ask Amy advises aghast mom to accept the family polycule

I haven't posted much lately because I've been deep in a huge book-editing job that's past deadline. But two recent items:


●  Be heard on DC's poly rights initiative.  Last week I posted about Chris Smith and Ben Schenker's legislation proposed to the Washington, DC, City Council to expand domestic partnership and anti-discrimination laws to include multi-partnered relationships. Their proposal is called the Right to Family Amendment Act of 2021.

Chris posts the positive reply he received from an office of the DC city government — inviting anyone with something to say about this to submit testimony, in person or in writing, at a committee hearing to take place on March 5:

Today I received this from the DC Government:

“Thanks to you and Benjamin for this thoughtful proposal. I am a new staffer for the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, which Councilmember White chairs and which assumed responsibility for overseeing the Office of Human Rights earlier this year. ... We will review the issues you raised below with the Councilmember as we consider ways to strengthen the DCHRA. 

“In the meantime, the Council’s annual Performance Oversight cycle is underway, and the Committee will hold a hearing with representatives of agencies including OHR on Friday, March 5.  If you are interested in raising awareness of these issues at that hearing, please find participation instructions for the Committee on page 10 of the attached notice.”...

Read Chris's whole postincluding how to submit written material, testify live, and view the hearing. He says, "If you are a clinician, lawyer, or academic that specializes in relationship structure and/or a DC resident, please submit a testimony, sign up to testify live and/or post on social media, and encourage others to watch, submit and testify.

"Spread the word, flood social and regular media and let’s change the world."

Also, Heath Schechinger comments, 

DC is not alone. Organizers in other cities across the US are preparing to do this same. Somerville [Mass.] already passed a multi-partner domestic partnership ordinance, Cambridge is next. CNM anti-discrimination is gaining momentum.

●  "Ask Amy" is treating us better.  Amy Dickinson, one of America's most-read newspaper advice columnists, had a burr under her saddle against polyamory and open relationships for many years. She has tangled with many of you who've written asking her to take polyamorous relationships seriously, and she once snipped at my "little newsletter," meaning this blog (yay recognition!). In more recent times, though, she's finally been getting the message that poly people are for real.

In newspapers today across the country, Amy fields a letter from an elderly parent who's aghast at her son and daughter-in-law coming out to her about being poly and asking that their other partners be accepted by the family: Ask Amy: Polyamory creates an extra family challenge (Feb. 9).

Amy turns over almost her whole reply to the capable hands of Elisabeth Sheff:

Dear Amy: My son and his wife have been married for almost 10 years. Recently, his wife explained to me that they are polyamorous. I did not really know what this was. She explained it and said that she wants to be honest with everyone.

I was in total shock. ... I love them both. I want them to be happy. They were married in her church, and I do not understand this.

I want to be a part of their lives, but I do not know that I can cope with them bringing other intimate partners to our family gatherings, which is one of the things she says she would like to do.

I don't know anyone who has experienced this. How can I keep my relationship with my son? My daughter-in-law wants open and honest acceptance. She says they have the right to live their lives the way they want to. But do I have any rights to what I am feeling about all of this?

I am in shock and trying to process this. ...

— Confused Mom

Amy Dickinson
Confused Mom: A polyamorous relationship is one that has more than two partners, where, for instance, a couple will bring another adult into their intimate life as a partner.

I shared your question with sociologist Elisabeth Sheff, author of “When Someone You Love is Polyamorous” (2016, Thorntree Press). Sheff and I agree that you deserve lots of credit for your kindness to your son and willingness to accept his family.

Her response: “This is a great first reaction if you want to maintain positive relationships with sex and gender minority family members. Acceptance doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and I suggest that you all take smaller steps of getting to know each other at first. For instance, instead of meeting for the first time at Grandma’s 90th birthday or Passover dinner, meet the son, daughter-in-law and their partners on Zoom for a chat, in the park for a walk, on the porch for cup of coffee, or eventually a restaurant for a regular dinner a couple of times. This allows you to establish a connection, chat with less pressure and talk about boundaries before plunging into a big family gathering, which is already kind of stressful, even if it is fun.

“At the same time, educate yourself on consensual nonmonogamy by reading and asking your son and his wife questions about their lives. There are hundreds of websites and social media pages devoted to polyamory and even more for other forms of CNM (consensual nonmonogamy).

“Finally, give yourself some credit for trying to understand, as well as some patience if it takes you, and them, a little while to adjust to this new family style.”


BTW, about that book When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous. Sheff wrote it for parents and other birth family members of newly out polyfolks, just like PFLAG has literature for the families of people who've come out as L, G, B, or T.  It's small (41 pages), cheap ($6.99), and highly recommended.  

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Blogger Meretricious Consideration said...

Yay Amy! Yay Alan! -- Anais

February 09, 2021 6:24 PM  

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