Cambridge To Consider More Legal Protections For Polyamorous Relationships

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Cambridge city councilors are considering an ordinance that would provide more legal protections for “diverse family and relationship structures,” including polyamorous relationships involving three or more adults.

The measure, which would add “family and relationship structure” to a list of protected classes in the Cambridge municipal code, says that people in polyamorous relationships experience discrimination “due to prejudicial misunderstandings related to the validity and moral fitness” of the relationships.

Cambridge became the second Massachusetts municipality to recognize polyamorous relationships in March 2021.

“When we amended the Domestic Partnership Ordinance in ‘21 to include people in polyamorous relationships for the first time, it was amazing to see and eye-opening how many of our constituents quietly approached us with immense gratitude,” city councilor Quinton Zondervan, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Mayor Sumbol Siddiqui, said during a city council meeting on Monday, May 22.

Zondervan mentioned that advocates have told him that the council “shouldn’t expect people to speak in public comment because those who would be impacted the most by these changes are uncomfortable outing themselves in such a public way.”

“But trust me,” Zondervan continued, “that many of our constituents and city employees would benefit from these protections.”

The full list of relationships to be protected by the ordinance include “multi-partner/multi-parent families and relationships, step families, single parents, diverse family structures, multi-generational households, consensually non-monogamous relationships, and consensual sexual and/or intimate relationships, including asexual and aromantic relationships.”

“Consensually non-monogamous relationships” refers to so-called open marriages, in which partners may live together but do not aim to be sexually faithful to one another.

The city council did not vote on the proposed ordinance on May 22 because city councilor Denise Simmons exercised her charter right to delay voting for one meeting so she could talk privately with the sponsors of the ordinance.

Councilors Simmons and Zondervan and Mayor Siddiqui could not be reached for comment by NewBostonPost.

Three Massachusetts municipalities recognize polyamorous relationships:  Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville.

Somerville took a similar action to the one Cambridge is considering this past April.


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