History, Art, and Polyamorous Domestic Partnerships in a New England Town

The Powder House. Prospect Hill. City squares and art exhibits galore. Somerville, Massachusetts is far from a quaint New England town. Because they just added polyamorous domestic partnerships to their list of recognized relationships!

Massachusetts has always held a special place in my heart. It is the home of my childhood obsession (Salem witches, anyone?), my favorite boy band of all time (NKOTB!), and the place I lived for 3 glorious years of elementary and middle school. I made some of the best friends I’d ever had there. And for the first time that I can remember, it was the place I considered my home.

New England Seasons. Clockwise, from top left: fall road, spring tulips, winter bridge, summer lavender.

I loved everything about it. The leaves in the fall, the flowers in the spring, the green green summers, and the white white winters. It is a place I yearn to go back to as an adult. Just to make sure it really is what I remember.

Change is on its way!

So imagine my joy when, at the beginning of July 2020, I read the best article. A small city in Eastern MA, near my beloved Boston, had just decided to recognize polyamorous domestic partnerships. YAY! A small step, sure, but an important one. And I hope, the first of many.

Thanks to a local ordinance passed by the City Council, poly families of Somerville can now be out and recognized. They can visit loved ones in the hospital. Which, in this strange new Covid-19 world, is such a huge blessing. Health benefits can also – potentially – be expanded to multiple partners for those under City employ.

Somerville, MA City Hall

The far reaching impacts of this will be seen as surrounding communities and municipalities react. Larger law enforcement entities will need to adjust as well. And the insurance companies will also have to chime in. But for now, let us just bask in the glow of this small but significant step.

As a ruling that comes soon after SCOTUS’ ruling on LGBT employment protections, I can only hope that this sets off a chain reaction, and an avalanche of similar ordinances and laws that sweeps our country.

To the naysayers…

Before you all say “But Lucie, it’s only a city ordinance.” or “Lucie, it only recognizes polyamorous domestic partnerships of people living together.” I say: “Baby steps!” Is this a perfect, cover-all-the-different-poly-styles decision? No, of course not. But it is a step in the right direction. This can open the door to recognizing many relationship configurations and the families that those create.

The ability to openly love my family – ALL members of my family – is something I cannot wait for. And I am so excited for that day to come. But, in the meantime, I guess I’m going on vacation to Massachusetts! (Once it is safe, of course!)

UPDATE 8/2020:

More great news! On Monday, July 27, 2020, Cambridge followed suit! They are advancing a similar proposal to have a second reading at their next council meeting in September. Six members voted in favor of this next step. Only two members declined to vote at all, citing their lack of knowledge on polyamory.

So everyone, fingers crossed this moves forward and Cambridge, MA becomes the next city to recognize multi-partner relationships!

UPDATE 3/2021:

On Monday, March 8, 2021, Cambridge passed their city ordinance protecting & recognizing polyamorous and other multi-partner families! The ordinance looks a little different from nearby Somerville, who passed theirs last year. But the heart of the ordinance is that same: that those in multi-partner relationships be afforded the same recognition that monogamous relationships receive. And that they also see those same benefits and protections.

Cambridge’s ordinance had the help from the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, a newly formed coalition of academics and legal experts who seek to advance recognition and protection to multi-partner relationships and families. For more about their work, you can visit their website here.

Big thanks to Alan at Polyamory in the News, who is always on top of new things happening in our growing ENM world.

Sound off!

What do you think of the new change? What are you hoping to see next?