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

January 8, 2022

Mass. Attorney General approves town's polyamorous domestic partnership law

Arlington, MA, Town Hall

I was kind of biting my nails on this. Last April the town of Arlington, Massachusetts (near me) approved a bylaw allowing for multiple people to have an official domestic partnership. Arlington was the third municipality in Massachusetts to do this. The measure, proposed by a local polyfamily member, passed by a lopsided vote of 192-37 in Arlington's huge Representative Town Meeting (it's a New England thing). But there was a technicality. Because Arlington is a town rather than a city, this was a bylaw rather than a city ordinance, so it had to be approved by the state attorney general's office as not conflicting with state law.

Proponents assumed this would be no problem, since the measure was worded to avoid any possible conflict with the state law against bigamy.


Attorney General Maura Healey — the leading Democratic prospect for this year's race for governor — had 90 days to rule. The deadline came and went. Her office got an extension, and that deadline came and went. A conservative publication, the New Boston Post, took a close interest in this development, unlike any other media. Uh-oh....

Now, phew. Healey's office has approved it and Arlington's bylaw is official. As reported in Mass Lawyer's Weekly, AG upholds town’s recognition of ‘polyamorous’ relationships (Jan. 6):

The AG’s Office concluded in a Dec. 23 letter decision that the town’s bylaw withstood statutory review because it did not refer to, or result in, a redefinition of [state laws against multiple concurrent marriages.]


On other topics,

●  At the grassroots level, the polyamory movement seems on fine track for our long-term future. Since at least 2008 I've worried that as the poly bandwagon got rolling faster than its early builders and rear-bumper-pushers could keep up with, it might go bounding downhill in mass culture and veer into scuzzy ethics or some other disastrous direction, and wreck itself in a ditch. As I saw happen to various 1960s movements. But that hasn't occurred.

Heartening proof is up in a fast-growing reddit thread. Reddit/r/polyamory has grown to 239,000 members (there were 300 when I joined), and like the rest of reddit it's an enormous, random mob. A newcomer just asked the masses, "What are some good practice and basic ethics of polyamory that ‘newbies’ may not know?" That was just hours ago as I write. Already more than 160 comments are up, and ya know? With only rare exceptions they are excellent, principled, full of wise advice and personal experience, and spot-on regarding at least a dozen of healthy polyamory's essential concepts. And on reddit!

I hope the thread doesn't turn south now that I've jinxed it. But yeah, those of you who have been building and shaping this movement in good ways all these years can be damn proud of the job you seem to have successfully done. A few things are actually going right in the world. 

●  From sociologist Elisabeth Sheff comes How to Talk to Children about Polyamory, Part 2: "Tips on discussing consensual nonmonogamy with your children" (January 2). This the second of a planned 4-part series.

The first blog in this series addressed the conditions that influence parents to come out to their children as polyamorous, or not. This second in the series offers tips to parents who have decided to come out to their kids, and the third [will provide] guidance about how to manage information about CNM in children’s lives. The series closes with a fourth about how parents in CNM relationships can support their child/ren’s social health.


You may want to tell your child about your polyamorous relationship, especially if you have decided that: your child is old enough to understand; your partner is relevant to your child’s life, and; your family is safe enough that it will not be imperiled if your child mentions your polyamorous relationship to your boss, friend, or father-in-law. If your child asks questions about your relationship, that indicates that they are old enough to understand at least a simple answer.

Many polyamorous parents in my Longitudinal Polyamorous Family Study (LPFS) reported that they waited for their children to ask questions about their relationships, and then answered kids’ questions with honest, age-appropriate information. Others felt that it was important to bring up their polyamorous relationships with one or all of their children because the kids might have noticed and the parents did not want the kids to think there was a secret that they had to keep from the other parent. Still other parents in the LPFS got outed to their children and/or other people by circumstances or other's intent.

No matter how you choose to inform the kids or they find out, there are a few suggestions from the LPFS that could offer some guidance on talking to kids about polyamory. These include being age appropriate, askable, matter of fact, and honest, plus a few tips on what to say. ...

Be Age Appropriate....

Be Askable....

...While some families have secrets they are not allowed to talk about, the families in the LPFS generally allowed their kids to ask any question, about anything that occurred to them. Sometimes the adults would say that was a private thing or they would talk about it later, but the kids never got in trouble for asking about anything. This set the stage for the kids to ask their parents questions about what was happening in the family.

Be Matter of Fact....

Be Honest

Honesty is a hallmark of polyamorous relationships, and parents in the LPFS reported that it trickled down from their interactions with their romantic and polyaffective partners to influence their parenting. Parents told their kids the truth, and the kids appreciated it and often responded in kind. This was true of discussing polyamory as well. When children would ask their parents who are these other people, parents would explain honestly in a way that made sense to the kids at that age. Overall this method had the best results, as a couple of the kids in the LPFS reported that they did not get enough information from their parents (for good reason in each case) and were left in uncomfortable confusion for a while until they figured it out themselves.

What to Say?...

In addition to being honest and age appropriate, polyamorous parents and their children in the LPFS both reported that less is more. ...

Read the whole thing.

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Anonymous Rowen Henning said...

Unless the bylaw has been revised since being originally approved, there is a HUGE "however" to this. It doesn't really change anything regarding rights other than housing.....and....if anyone leaves or dies the entire domestic partnership is rendered void. It's not really aligned with the needs of Poly families.

January 09, 2022 4:29 PM  

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