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Groundbreaking new law to recognise polyamorous and platonic relationships is exactly what America needs in 2020

Lily Wakefield July 3, 2020
Three people taking a selfie

The domestic partnership ordinance will recognise all types of families, including polyamorous relationships of three or more people and platonic relationships that are neither romantic nor sexual. (Envato)

A US city has approved a domestic partnership ordinance, thought to be the first in the country that recognises polyamorous and platonic relationships.

The city council of Somerville, Massachusetts, unanimously approved the ordinance on June 25, and the city’s mayor Joseph Curtatone signed it into law Monday (June 29).

It recognises all types of families, including polyamorous relationships of three or more people and platonic relationships that are neither romantic nor sexual.

Domestic partners will be able to visit each other in hospital, and city employees will be able to list all of their partners on health insurance policies, according to the New York Times.

Massachusetts official ‘didn’t feel right’ only recognising relationships between two people.

Somerville did not previously have a domestic partnership ordinance, and when one was recently drafted city councillor Lance Davis said it “didn’t feel right” that the draft only described relationships between two people.

When asked by fellow councillor JT Scott why this was the case, Davis said he realised he didn’t “have a good answer”, so he redrafted it and replaced language like “he and she” with “they”, and “both” with “all”.

Davis said: “I’ve consistently felt that when society and government tries to define what is or is not a family, we’ve historically done a very poor job of doing so.

“It hasn’t gone well, and it’s not a business that government should be in, so that guided my thinking on this.”

He added: “Based on the conversations I’ve had, the most important aspect is that the city is legally recognising and validating people’s existence. That’s the first time this is happening.”

Scott believes the ordinance is the first of its kind in the US. He said he knew of at least two dozen polyamorous families in the city of around 80,000 residents, and added: “People have been living in families that include more than two adults forever.

“Here in Somerville, families sometimes look like one man and one woman, but sometimes it looks like two people everyone on the block thinks are sisters because they’ve lived together forever, or sometimes it’s an aunt and an uncle, or an aunt and two uncles, raising two kids.”

Responding to potential criticism that large groups of people will register to become domestic partners, for example 20 people, Davis added: “I say, well what if they do?

“I see no reason to think that is more of an issue than two people.”

More: domestic partnership, Massachusetts, platonic, polyamorous, relationships, Somerville

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