Can Massachusetts Towns Legalize Polyamory? Maura Healey’s Office Will Soon Decide

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Adam and Eve, and … Steve? 

That could be the case in the town of Arlington, Massachusetts this year unless Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office says otherwise.

The Municipal Law Unit of the Attorney General’s office will decide on the matter next month, her office told NewBostonPost on Tuesday. The issue has surfaced because the town of Arlington passed a bylaw at its April 2021 Town Meeting that established domestic partner criteria for the town, and an amendment to it that also passed would recognize domestic partnerships of two or more people.

Typically, the Attorney General’s office has 90 days to decide on these matters. However, the office requested an extension to review this instance, and now has until October 31 to decide. The office says that it reviews laws based on their legality under the Massachusetts Constitution, not based on whether or not it agrees with the policy.  The AG’s office also said that it doesn’t comment on pending rulings, nor can it speculate on how it will rule on this one.

If the Attorney General’s office does approve the bylaw, however, that means other towns will be able to follow suit.

Arlington overwhelmingly voted to recognize domestic partnerships at the town level, as well as for the amendment to allow for polyamorous domestic partnerships. The domestic partnership bylaw passed with 221 people voting in favor of it and 11 people voting against it. The polyamory amendment passed with 192 people voting for it and 37 people voting against it.

The amended bylaw passed allowed people to register a domestic partnership with the town of Arlington if they meet the following criteria:


(1) They have made a commitment of mutual support and caring for each other their
domestic partners;
(2) They reside together and intend to do so indefinitely;
(3) They share basic living expenses;
(4) They are at least eighteen (18) years of age;
(5) They are competent to enter into a contract; and
(6) They are not married to anyone or related to each other by blood closer than would
bar marriage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


The bylaw would allow members of a polyamorous domestic partnership to have visitation rights at town-operated health care facilities and town-operated correctional facilities. A child’s parent or legal guardian would also be allowed to give a domestic partner access to a child’s school records as well as access to the child — including school dismissal.

It would also mean that Arlington town employees could in theory receive bereavement leave for their domestic partners. Currently, the town’s employees may receive up to five days of paid leave for the death of a spouse, child, father, mother, sister, brother, or grandparents. The new domestic partner bylaw does not mandate bereavement leave for domestic partners, but leaves open the possibility.

Precinct 3 Town Meeting member Amos Meeks proposed the polyamory amendment to the domestic partnership bylaw. He has said that he has two domestic partners.

If the Attorney General’s office approves the bylaw, it would make Arlington the third Massachusetts community to officially recognize polyamorous relationships. Somerville became the first in July of 2020 and Cambridge became the second last March. However, those were city ordinances, which are not subject to review by the Attorney General’s office. Chapter 40, Section 32 of Massachusetts General Law exempts city by-laws from review by the Attorney General’s office.

Meeks could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Nor could the five members of Arlington’s Board of Selectmen.

An Arlington selectman who said he was once involved in a three-way domestic relationship first raised the possibility of officially recognizing polyamorous relationships during a public meeting in June 2020, as NewBostonPost reported at the time.


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