The city of Somerville in Massachusetts in the US passed an ordinance that officially recognizes polyamorous relationships by no longer limiting the number of people included in domestic partnerships.
With this, Somerville becomes one of the first cities in the US to officially recognize polyamorous relationships.
This move was actually a result of a few subtle language shifts – e.g. instead of defining a relationship as an “entity formed by two persons,” the ordinance now defines it as an “entity formed by people”; replaces “he and she” with “they”; and replaces “both” with “all.”
The City Council passed the ordinance on June 25; and on June 29, Mayor Joe Curtatone signed it into municipal law.
Polyamory is usually defined as the practice of having multiple consensual intimate relationships, and is often described as consensual non-monogamy. Relationships can be sexual or romantic, and are not gender-specific. Polyamorous relationships are diverse and can look different depending on the family. Sometimes it means having a primary relationship and seeking casual intimacy, and sometimes it means involving a third or fourth (and so on) person in building a family structure.
This is important: It is illegal in all 50 American states to be married to more than one person, which is known as polygamy, not polyamory. Polygamy is tied to marriage (and is also gendered); and does not reference romance, intimacy or even consent.
Polyamory, meanwhile, refers to different kinds of arrangements — e.g. when a married couple has regular outside partners. Prior to this ordinance, there was no legal framework in Somerville for polyamorous families to share finances, custody of children or the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage.
Somerville is now in the process of changing the application to include space for more than two partners.