Polyamory in the News
. . . by Alan M.

July 28, 2023

The coming struggle for polyamory rights: Caroline Giuliani's manifesto in Vanity Fair

Caroline Giuliani (Instagram)

●  Last March 23rd, when the legal hotshots of the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition (PLAC) spoke in the Somerville, MA, City Council session that enacted protections against anti-polyfolk discrimination, with them was Caroline Giuliani, Rudy's daughter.

She has described herself as "multiverses apart" from her dad politically and in other ways. A couple years ago she wrote a long, perceptive article for Vanity Fair on her insights as a deliberate unicorn choosing to date primary couples. At the crowded afterparty following the Somerville vote, she said she was planning another article for Vanity Fair on the need for polyam legal protections more broadly. We were all looking forward to it.

The article has finally appeared: Love, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Polyamory: A Look Under the Covers of Nonmonogamy and Its Burgeoning Civil Rights Battle (online July 25). It's a 3,500-word manifesto for the coming era of polylegal campaigns. Excerpts:

By Caroline Rose Giuliani

Most of the discoveries I’ve made on my path to polyamory have been transformational and uplifting. But since becoming a sex-positive activist and an outspoken advocate for the nonmonogamous community, I’ve also learned of a darker side of polyamory. No, I’m not talking about kinky sex in a dimly lit dungeon, as much as I’d like to be! ... I’m talking about the unwarranted shadow that society has cast over polyamorous people by forcing them to live in the closet.

“Forcing” may seem like a strong word. But with the recent exception of residents in the progressive city of Somerville, Massachusetts, all other polyamorous people in America currently have zero protection from being blatantly discriminated against. They can be denied housing, prevented from advancing at work, and even fired, all without any legal recourse whatsoever. Relationship structure does not yet qualify as a “protected class” like gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation do. This lack of social and legal acceptance has compelled many polyamorous people to hide their true identity from their coworkers, family, and even closest friends.

The danger of living openly means that—aside from the occasional celebrity nonmonogamy reference—polyamory hasn’t found a foothold in mainstream culture, which in turn has created a cascade of confusion about it that needs to be corrected. The most pervasive misconception that thrives in this void is that polyamory is just about sex. But for most of the polyamorous individuals I’ve met, this creative and expansive way of loving is about deep connection, committed partnerships, reliable family, and supportive community—things that everyone deserves to pursue free of discrimination.

In the polyamorous tradition of clear communication, let’s start by defining some terms. “Polyamory” is the practice of having multiple romantic and often, though not always, sexual relationships at one time, with all parties aware and consenting. “Nonmonogamy” is the larger umbrella term under which polyamory falls, along with other nonexclusive relationship structures and practices like monogamish relationships or swinging. Nonmonogamy is often also referred to as “ethical nonmonogamy” (ENM) or “consensual nonmonogamy” (CNM), but I just use “nonmonogamy” because I prefer not to reinforce the idea that nonmonogamy is an inherently dirty term that requires a redeeming qualifier. It would feel more fitting to instead label all infidelity as “unethical nonmonogamy.”...

One foundational myth I’d like to dispel is that polyamory is always a choice, or a “lifestyle,” rather than a deep-seated orientation. ...

...These questions of bodily autonomy and freedom of choice are more relevant now than ever in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s overturn. For many polyamorous people, the concept of “my body, my choice” extends beyond reproductive rights and deep into the fabric of their relationship agreements. 

...The value of these creative family constellations became overwhelmingly clear to me after a friend of mine was tragically widowed and left to father a toddler. Because he and his late wife had already started living and coparenting with another couple, the three surviving adults of the polycule have been able to offer this young boy familial continuity and consistency. But even in the absence of such misfortune, polyamorous parents’ unique support systems often extend to and benefit their children. A poly couple, whom I have personally observed to be incredible parents to their highly intelligent 14-year-old daughter, explained that even past partners with whom they are no longer intimate remain part of their family’s long-term support network. The mother said, “It’s always been about bringing quality people into all of our lives. And we like that we’re able to introduce our daughter to the concept of alternative lifestyles, just as far as knowing that there’s not one way to do this life thing.”

Nurturing this type of independent critical thinking and authentic self-expression is characteristic of many poly parents, which helps explain why I have felt so impressed by the emotional intelligence of the children I’ve met from these backgrounds. From a young age, they were taught to cultivate openheartedness while asserting and respecting boundaries, so these kids end up remarkably proficient in the language of complex human dynamics, much like children who learn foreign languages from birth. Critics often assume that polyamorous parents’ open approach to sexuality must negatively affect their kids. From what I’ve seen, it’s quite the opposite. The sex-positive attitude poly parents tend to maintain helps them model shame-free communication about awkward subjects, which only encourages their children to bravely share their fears and questions about the varied and often weird experience of being human. ...


Diana [Adams] has worked on a staggering number of child-custody cases where a parent is at risk of losing their children because of some form of sexual shaming. Whether the parent has adventurous desires listed on a FetLife profile, or is simply in love with more than one person, the decisions in these cases often end up boiling down to the prejudices of the presiding judge. In family law, definitions of terms like “best interest of the child” are incredibly subjective, so depending on how conservative a county is, Diana can predict with disturbing accuracy whether the judge will rule that a loving parent loses access to their child. Diana explained that attacking a coparent for their sexuality in an effort to restrict access to their child frequently maps with abusive relationship dynamics. Diana’s line of defense in those cases has been “refocusing on the fact that my client, however titillating their sexuality might be, is the one who’s actually focusing on the best interest of the child rather than trying to destroy their coparent out of spite.” Sadly, one of Diana’s main pieces of advice to victims of this kind of persecution is to move to a more progressive state if they have the means and ability to do so. Obviously, the vast majority of people do not, which is another major reason relationship-structure nondiscrimination policies are so urgently needed.

At Diana’s New York–based nonprofit, Chosen Family Law Center (which I have recently joined as a volunteer board member), they provide the polyamorous community with free legal services and also advocate for legislative policies that will safeguard the rights of all different kinds of LGBTQ+ and nonnuclear families. Diana has been getting calls about employment loss nearly weekly for the past 15 years, and that’s just from the people who have the wherewithal to figure out how to contact them. ...

The situation is the most dire for those who have additional barriers to equitable treatment, such as being low-income and BIPOC or transgender, which describes almost all of the clients whom Chosen Family Law Center helps. The stereotype that most polyamorous people are white and wealthy is unequivocally false.

...Regardless of demographic factors, when anyone reaches out to Diana because they’ve been fired due to being poly, there is still very little that can be done to help them. The Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition (PLAC), a project supported by Chosen Family Law Center and the Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic, is working hard to change that.

...PLAC intends to use its recent victory as a springboard to pass similar laws everywhere. It will follow in the footsteps of the same-sex marriage movement by implementing inclusive policies, first in blue bubble areas, and then expanding city by city. In a time of so much uncertainty and angst, these places will function as lighthouses to alert those who are currently being treated as second-class citizens that safe havens do indeed exist, and that a cultural shift is on the horizon. ...

...But the real plot twist here is that cultivating more acceptance of nonmonogamy will benefit everyone, not just those who practice it. Societies function better when citizens can be their authentic selves, and we can’t expect to learn anything from each other without first being able to see each other. Successful polyamorous relationships are living proof that love doesn’t have to fit within a predetermined structure, but instead can take any shape our imagination can dream up. And the simple yet powerful idea that we don’t have to do things the way they’ve been done before has the potential to spur meaningful change in a world that so desperately needs it.

 Don't miss Polyamory in the News!



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July 9, 2023

July 15 is DAY OF VISIBILITY for poly and other forms of non-monogamy. The OPEN org is coordinating.

UPDATE JULY 18:  The Day of Visibility for Non-monogamy last Saturday, July 15, seems to have been a big success and the start of an annual event backed by a capable organization on the way up.

Afterward, OPEN's executive director Brett Chamberlin wrote to participants and endorsers,

Thank you! The inaugural Day of Visibility for Non-monogamy was a resounding success. Your commitment to raising awareness and fostering understanding of non-monogamous relationships was deeply felt. Together we reached countless people around the world with a message of acceptance and inclusion.

Thousands of people gathered for in-person celebrations in over a dozen cities worldwide or opened up about their non-monogamous identities online. This was a huge step forward for awareness of non-monogamous families and relationships, representing a strong foundation we will continue to build on year over year.

The OPEN coalition plans an after-action debriefing for activists over Zoom next Wednesday, July 26. "This will give us an opportunity to share our takeaways, collect feedback, and talk about how we can build on this momentum together."  Contact OPEN to join the group or for information.


Count me impressed. The OPEN nonprofit, the Organization for Polyamory and Ethical Non-monogamy, started last year. Now it has put together a coalition of at least 40 non-monogamy education and advocacy groups, event organizers, podcasters, bloggers, businesses, and other leaders in our increasingly diverse movement to get behind a single, unified project: the Day of Visibility for Non-Monogamythis Saturday, July 15.

These people know how to do stuff. OPEN seems more capable and professional than any such group in the movement's last couple decades. It helped enable PLAC, the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, to pass the first polyamory nondiscrimination ordinances in Somerville, Mass. last April. It is helping similar poly-rights efforts press forward in other progressive US cities. It ran a social-media campaign to push Facebook to let users choose a multi-relationship category for themselves, an effort that the New York Times covered as a result of OPEN's skills with the media. More recently OPEN hired Heath Schechinger, co-founder of the American Psychological Association's Division 44 Committee on Consensual Non-Monogamy, to develop a Consensual Non-Monogamy Policy Project for it. As Schechinger wrote to The Polyamory Foundation, which funded OPEN hiring him, 

The CNM Policy Project targets two essential areas to advance polyamory recognition and rights. In the healthcare sphere, I will spearhead efforts to propose a resolution in support of consensual non-monogamy within the American Psychological Association (APA). ... I will also advocate for policy support in other healthcare organizations, such as the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

In the municipal domain, I will concentrate on stewarding [others'] efforts for non-discrimination ordinances that protect polyamorous families and relationships in municipalities across the United States. This will include activities such as engaging with community leaders and advocacy groups to raise awareness of polyamory rights and helping draft inclusive ordinances.

OPEN's organizers put diversity and inclusion front and center since the start. Its board of directors consists of longtime activists William Winters (president), Luna Ray, Heath Schechinger, and Gabrielle Smith, as well as attorney Aaron Harkins.

The commitment to wide representation extends to an unusually wide range of CNM forms. Last month executive director Brett Chamberlin met in Texas with a conference of swinger-community business and event leaders to make common cause across the legendary cultural divide between the swing and poly communities. Chamberlin believes that big-tent numbers will bring strength. Last Thursday he emphasized to a Zoom meeting of Day of Visibility endorsers that "non-monogamy exists everywhere, across all demographic groups" and that it "looks different for everyone.

"We shouldn't have to hide, we shouldn't have to live in fear."

OPEN's goal, he told attendees, is to "enable horizontally owned movement activity to spread year by year."

From a recent email from OPEN to Day of Visibility activists and supporters:

Here's an update on what we have planned:

●  We just published a Communications Toolkit
 [with lots of suggested graphics and text] to help organizations, content creators, and others create Day of Visibility content. Use the hashtag #NonmonogamyVisibility and tag @openloveorg so we can share!

●  We're offering two free Peer Support Sessions for folks opening up about their identity. The sessions will be Friday July 14 at 6pm PST and Sunday July 16 at 3pm PST; RSVP at www.dayofvisibility.comNote: we only encourage you to open up if it's safe for you to do so! Read more about "Safety and Coming Out" in this resource from our friends at Chosen Family Law Center.

●  In-person events! Check out the list below or sign up to host your own event (it's not too late – and we can help!)

Boston, MA, US – Picnic on Boston Common (RSVP for location)
Cleveland, OH, US – Meetup at Edgewater Park, 2pm (RSVP with host |  RSVP on Bloom)
Los Angeles, CA, US – Picnic in the Park at Glassell Park Recreation Area, 3pm-5pm (RSVP on Bloom)
London, England, UK – Picnic at Victoria Park, 3pm-8pm (RSVP with host | RSVP on Bloom)
Louisville, KY, US – Picnic at Cherokee Park, 10am-1pm (RSVP with host | RSVP on Bloom)
New Haven, CT, US – Pub Night (21+) at Trinity Bar, 7pm-11pm (RSVP with host | RSVP on Bloom)
Oahu, HI, US – Picnic at Kapiʻolani Regional Park, 1pm-4pm (RSVP with host | RSVP on Bloom)
Oakland, CA, US – Picnic and rally at Lake Merritt Amphitheater, 1pm-4pm (RSVP on Facebook | RSVP on Bloom)
Santa Cruz, CA, US – Beach Party at Natural Bridges State Beach, 11am-3pm (RSVP on Bloom)
Seattle, WA, US – Polyamory Field Day at Magnuson Park, 4pm-8pm *Sunday July 16* (RSVP on Bloom)

The list of local events has nearly doubled since that email. ]

●  Got more ideas? Cooking up something special you want to share? Join our new Community Discord and find your way to the Day of Visibility channels! You can also reach out to us  at dayofvisibility@open-love.org

We also wanted to celebrate all the fabulous organizations and allies that have signed on to participate in the Day of Visibility. It's not too late to sign on! Add your name or organization here and you'll be joining the following endorsers: Asexual Visibility and Education NetworkBloom CommunityBonobo NetworkCANDIDCasa GaleniaCenter for Positive SexualityChosen Family Law CenterEvergreen HeartsFront Porch Swingers PodcastGLMA: Health Professionals Advance LGBTQ+ EqualityHump Day Quickies podcastJOYclubMultiamory PodcastNational Coalition for Sexual FreedomNaughty EventsThe Nonbinary PolihistorNormalizing Non-monogamy Podcast#open: Polyamorous & ENM Dating"Open: A Journey Through Love" DocumentaryOpen RelatingThe Pineapple Express PodcastPlaying With Fire PodcastPolyActivePoly Alt ParentingPoly Pop CultureThe Polyamory Foundation, Queer Polyam BostonRadical RelatingThe Root: Birth, Babies, and BeyondSheff ConsultingReady for Polyamory PodcastRelationship Diversity PodcastSoaring Heart CenterStacey McLarty Attorney – Chosen Family Law TXThe Swing Nation PodcastSwinger Society, and Woodhull Sexual Freedom Foundation. Plus more individual endorsers at www.dayofvisibility.com. This movement is mighty .

We can't wait to celebrate with you all.

For a more open and loving world,
The OPEN team

Like I said, consider me impressed.


Update: From another email they just sent to hosts and supporters, full of resources for spreading the word:

We are 8 days out from the first inaugural Day of Visibility for Non-monogamy and couldn't be more excited! We have a few resources and reminders for you all, and as always are available any time for questions via this email address:  <dayofvisibility@open-love.org>

(1) Get out the word! This is the week to really push and get the word out! Digital organizing is essential for making ourselves visible and reducing stigma. Post on your social media now, next week, and day-of. Send reminders to your email lists, and encourage your communities to spread the word to their contacts and email lists! The Communications Toolkit has been updated to include graphics unique to the Day of Visibility that you can pull and adapt for your purposes. Feel free to include your own logo and use them on your social media and print materials.
  • Use the hashtag #nonmonogamyvisibility

  • Tag us on Threads, Instagram, and Twitter at @openloveorg 

(2) If you're hosting an in-person event, you can use the local press release template; if you're an endorser, you can use our national press release template (US and Canada). We've also included instructions on how to identify local news sources, adapt the template, and send to publicize your event. This is just a template -- please duplicate the document and adapt it for your purposes by dropping in your own quotes!

(3) Final call for print materials! We have two brochures available: a Non-monogamy 101 brochure and 'Why we need to normalize non-monogamy' brochure, as well as stickers with the OPEN logo. Please let us know by Monday 7/10 how many of each asset you'd like to receive in the mail, along with an address for sending. 

(4) We'll be hosting two peer support sessions to support people around the process of opening up around their identities. Folks can sign up here on the Day of Visibility landing page. This page also includes resources on safety and coming out as non-monogamous. 

(5) If it feels consistent with your group's own advocacy approach, please feel free to direct folks to join OPEN's mailing list and to donate to OPEN.

Finally, if you want more context for the goals, structure, and details of the event, we put together a concise overview here.

Thank you all SO much for all you're doing to bring this historic event to life. We can't wait to see all the stories, photos, and love pouring in next weekend!


 Don't miss Polyamory in the News!



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