Alternative Relationships Articles











Sign Here and Here and Here: Explore Legality of Polyamory by Lana Jones in the Corvallis Advocate

HBO’s Big Love, TLC’s Sister Wives, and Showtime’s Polyamory—non-monogamous relationships seem to make for gripping television viewing. Certainly the thought of multiple sexual partners captures the attention. But what about the more mundane aspects of a polyamorous (poly) lifestyle?

To start, what does polyamory mean? Jen, a third-year law student from University of California Hastings in San Francisco who has worked with the Transgender Law Center and National Center for Lesbian Rights, said that it was an amorphous, encompassing term that was defined different ways by different people.

“I consider it any subset of people having intimate relationships, however they define them, with more than one person at a time,” she said. The terms polygyny and polyandry are more specific, meaning one man with multiple wives and one woman with multiple husbands. The broader term, polygamy, may refer to either polygyny or polyandry.

How do poly people navigate parenting, bank accounts, and other everyday family business? Serious poly relationships might involve three, four, or more people that want to share the same rights and responsibilities that spouses or domestic partners would.

Parenting problems might arise because a child can by law only have two people recognized as parents. This is an issue not only for poly families but also divorced parents and step-parents. Multiple parents could be an asset to children though, and the issue may never come up unless there’s a larger problem.

“When there is some sort of problem and the court gets involved,” Jen said, “the court is going to scrutinize poly families very closely.”

In that case, the parents that aren’t legally recognized may not have a say.

“That doesn’t mean that people don’t successfully co-parent, multi-parent all the time,” she said.

Poly families could turn to contracts that approximate marriage or custody. This route is expensive though because the contracts aren’t prefab forms that anyone can complete.

“It’s really a question of how much money you have,” Jen said. “The more affluent you are, the more likely you’ll be able to get your family protected.”

Even if you do get your family protected, there’s no guarantee that your contracts will be recognized. If a member of a poly family is hospitalized, for instance, will the hospital allow multiple visitation rights?

“There is no reason that they shouldn’t,” said Jen. “But as plenty of people know, hospitals can be really difficult even if it’s law that they should comply. There are also plenty of people that live a life like this and it’s never an issue.”

Mortgages can also be difficult for nontraditional families to acquire.

“Banks find more than two people trying to purchase things together strange and unnecessarily confounding,” Jen said.

Despite some of the difficulties associated with being poly, the lifestyle is gaining more recognition and people continue to practice it. Corvallis even has its own poly social group that meets once a month. For more information, visit


President Obama added his voice to the growing chorus of Americans who believe
that all couples should share equally in the freedom to marry. He now becomes
the first sitting President to join the majority of Americans whose hearts have
opened and minds have changed in favor of the freedom to marry.

Like so many others who have made this journey – from Bill Clinton to Laura
Bush, most recently Vice President Biden, and a majority of the American people
– President Obama has come to know loving and committed gay couples. Through
thought and conversation about these families and their dreams and challenges,
President Obama has reflected on his own values of fairness and respect for
others, and completed his journey to support for the freedom to marry.

Whether signing our “I Do” petitions, joining us in on-the-ground battles, or
having your own conversations with people you persuade, you’ve been part of
Freedom to Marry’s campaign as we have led this work nationwide. On this
historic day, please make a contribution so together we can build on this
powerful momentum:

At Freedom to Marry we know–as the President and Vice President have just
described–that it’s the power of our conversations about why marriage matters
that changes hearts and minds. Through our hard work, determination and
persuasive conversations, we have won the freedom to marry in six states and the
District of Columbia, with states like California, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota,
Washington, and others on the horizon – if we do our work with urgency and

The President’s announcement of support today marks a historic turning point for
our freedom to marry movement.

Yet there is much left to be done. Forty-four states continue to exclude
same-sex couples from marriage and because of the federal so-called Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA), the civil marriages of thousands of same-sex couples are
not respected by the federal government, thus depriving families of a crucial
safety-net of federal protections and responsibilities.

As we roll up our sleeves to do the work necessary to win the freedom to marry
once and for all, make a donation to Freedom to Marry to help us redouble our
efforts, and get the job done.


You’ve nothing to loose but limitations, nothing to shed but

everything to gain in love, intimacy, intensity and growth.

Terminate monotonous monogamy; arrest atrocious age-ism;

Stop stifling sexism, renounce pernicious racism;

Celebrate relationship choice and give more loving a voice.

The love you take is equal to the love you make.

& I HAVE A POLY DREAM by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D.

I dream awake a fully legal marriage celebration for, me, my wife Janet, and two
other bi-poly pairs.

We join hands, meet each others’ gaze.

We take turns and proclaim exactly what we pledge.

In my fantasy, each and every one of the six commit to living together in Gaia
consciousness, ecological harmony, emotional support, compassionate
communication, centering, limitation transcendence and spiritual synergy via
sacred tantra rituals.

Like Dr. King, I intend for the dream to be the reality we wake up to: adults
have the right to marry whoever they wish, to have all the rights and
responsibilities in the areas of spouse protection, tax breaks, hospital
visitation, divorce and freedom from persecution and hate-behavior.

The convictions of the religious right about marriage reserved to a monogamous
man and woman are part of the old divide and conquer religions based on dictates
of tyrants with technology. They have no right to demean and punish our
relationship choices. You are the chooser.

And I hope one day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one. Imagine

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