Polyamory next? Activists push to legally accommodate multi-partner relationships

A polyamorous throuple is interviewed on ITV in 2017.
A polyamorous throuple is interviewed on ITV in 2017. | (Photo: Screengrab/

A brewing push is afoot to overhaul laws to accommodate polyamorous relations, euphemistically known as "consensual non-monogamous" arrangements.

In a Thursday CBS News interview, self-described LGBT legal activist Diana Adams explained that she intends to support non-traditional families, including polyamorous ones, before the law has caught up.

"There are significant holes in coverage for families that don't fit into a two-person marriage situation," she said.

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Asked to elaborate on what available legal tools she would draw on to contain a multi-partner union and family, the lawyer suggested setting up a limited liability corporation.

"Forming an LLC is one way to allow people to structure finances, to maybe share a health insurance plan, to own real estate as three or more people without getting into a question of whether the government is approving of your relationship, whether or not you're in a romantic relationship, [it] shouldn't matter," Adams offered

"I think we are seeing more people who are thinking about structuring their own kinds of relationships by contracts, doing real estate agreements, doing the LLC, making a financial agreement for support, you could do cohabitation agreement if you're not getting married that would be about financial support if you were to break up."

The lawyer went on to claim that polyamorous persons face various risks and discrimination and are not being guaranteed things such as immigration benefits and inheritance rights. If persons who practice this way of life in a culturally conservative area, they are not likely to be heard favorably in court because the judge will likely be conservative, she noted, adding that judges are increasingly more receptive to these relational arrangements.

Adams maintained that the relevant social science data now demonstrates that consensual non-monogamy and polyamory are "within the realm of healthy adult relationships and sexuality and that the children do fine."

Writing in Quillette Monday, University of New Mexico psychology professor Geoffrey Miller suggested that polyamory should be taken seriously and is, while still a small subculture, more common than being gay or lesbian.

"I think that's going to help create change nationwide over time but at this point [polyamorous] people still are at risk," Adams said, going on to praise the city of San Francisco, which has taken the lead in "broad partnership policies."

Many who practice polyamory are still closeted because of "stigma and discrimination," she continued, urging the creating more "uniformity" in parenting law nationwide.

Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute.
Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute. | (Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Roback Morse)

That expressed need to create uniformity "gave away the game" said Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In the end, the lawyer's words amount to nothing but a massive state power grab, she believes.

"We used to have uniform laws. The woman who gives birth to the child is presumed to be the child's one and only legally recognized mother. Her husband is presumed to be the child's one and only legally recognized father," Morse explained in an email to The Christian Post Monday. 

"The end game for the sexual revolutionaries is to capture the state to redefine parenthood. They want contract parenting, with no legal 'privileging' or 'incentivizing' of biological relationships. This has been the goal of the LGBT legal community and their allies for some time. Redefining parenthood was always part of the goal of redefining marriage. The charming lesbian couple with children was the rhetorical battering ram to accomplish that through gay marriage. Today, the 'consensual non-monogamy' people are their current battering ram."

She stressed: "These people have got to be stopped."

Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives and Why the Church was Right All Along.

Last year, the American Psychological Association launched a task force on consensual non-monogamy.

"Finding love and/or sexual intimacy is a central part of most people’s life experience. However, the ability to engage in desired intimacy without social and medical stigmatization is not a liberty for all. This task force seeks to address the needs of people who practice consensual non-monogamy, including their intersecting marginalized identities," the website for the task force of the APA's Division 44 explains.

Among the expressions of sexuality that appear to fall under the consensual non-monogamy umbrella, according to the task force website, are polyamory, swinging, "open" relationships, something called "relationship anarchy" and other kinds of "ethical" non-monogamous relationships.

Major media outlets have taken to claiming in recent months and years that 1 in 5 persons have been involved in a consensual non-monogamous relationship at some point in their life, pointing to a 2016 study in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy by a group of researchers at the Kinsey Institute.

But the data and the terms used in the survey in that study are murky, Charles Fain Lehman noted in a Tuesday blog post for the Institute for Family Studies, noting that the researchers acknowledged the limitations of their findings.

"But that has not stopped dozens of journalists from using their research to perform a magic trick. At best, the study shows that one in five single Americans have engaged in CNM; more likely, it shows that one in five single Americans have engaged in a casual sexual relationship, with a subset of those engaging in CNM; possibly, 20% is an artifact of sampling choices," Lehman said.

"But before the eyes of thousands of readers, this figure has been transmuted into "1 in 5 Americans have been involved in a consensually non-monogamous relationship." Isn't that magical?" he mused.

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