Somerville, Mass. Unanimously Passes Law Recognizing ‘Polyamorous’ Domestic Partnerships

Photo Credit: Katy Black

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — The city council of Somerville, Massachusetts has unanimously passed an ordinance recognizing “polyamorous” domestic partnerships as they could not find a “good reason” to limit romantic relationships to two people.

“It validates their existence. It validates the way they love,” council member Lance Davis told NBC Boston.

Polyamory is defined as “the practice of … participating simultaneously in more than one serious romantic or sexual relationship with the knowledge and consent of all partners.” The arrangement may include heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual plural relationships.

According to Wicked Local Somerville, Davis was approached by fellow councilman J.T. Scott last month to ask why a proposed ordinance on domestic partnerships — that is, those who are in a committed relationship but choose not to marry — was written with only two people in mind.

Davis had already been working with his colleagues on writing the legislation, nixing language requiring those in the partnership to live together and to notify the City of a change of address.

The ordinance had been initiated out of complaints from unmarried residents who expressed concern about not being able to visit their significant other in the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic, NBC Boston reports.

The law was therefore crafted to grant hospital visitation rights to those in domestic partnerships, as well as health insurance benefits, among other perks commonly afforded to married couples.

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An hour before the June 25 city council meeting, Scott posed a question about the monogamous character of the ordinance.

“[He] reached out and said, ‘Why is this two?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have a good answer,’” Davis told Wicked Local. “I tripped over my words a bit and played devil’s advocate, but I had no good reason.”

“So, I pulled it out, went through quickly, making whatever word changes necessary to make it not gendered or limited to two people,” he said.

The ordinance then passed without objection. Mayor Joseph Curtatone signed the measure into law on June 29.

“I’ve consistently felt that when society and government tries to define what is or is not a family, we’ve historically done a very poor job of doing so,” Davis opined. “It hasn’t gone well, and it’s not a business that government should be in, so that guided my thinking on this.”

Scott told the New York Times that he knows of at least two dozen households in Somerville that are polyamorous.

“People have been living in families that include more than two adults forever,” he stated. “Here in Somerville, families sometimes look like one man and one woman, but sometimes it looks like two people everyone on the block thinks are sisters because they’ve lived together forever, or sometimes it’s an aunt and an uncle, or an aunt and two uncles, raising two kids.”

Davis said that he has received positive feedback from the community, including an individual who attends his “church.”

“I got an e-mail from someone at my church that said, ‘Wow, this is amazing. Thank you so much for doing this,’” he told the Boston Globe.

Photo Credit: Susan Cipriano/Pixabay

While some contend that non-monogamous relationships are not prohibited by God because there were those in the Old Testament who entered into relationships with multiple wives or concubines, Roger Patterson of Answers in Genesis notes that men committed all kinds of sin throughout the Scriptures — hence illustrating mankind’s need for the Savior, and just because such practices were recorded as occurring, does not mean they were acceptable to God.

“The Bible is an incredibly candid book … Rather than covering up the faults and flaws of its key figures, the Bible frequently shows us humanity in its deepest sin,” he outlines in an article on the ministry website. “Likewise, the Bible records many instances of polygamy in the Old Testament, involving even some of the patriarchs of Israel.”

Beginning in Genesis, Patterson explains that God created the woman for the man for the purpose of a committed, lifelong marriage — not polygamy or polyamory.

“First, God intended to make ‘a helper’ for Adam, not several helpers,” he advised. “Second, from one rib God made one woman for Adam. Genesis 2:24 reveals the pattern of a man leaving his family to ‘be joined to his wife,’ not wives. This union is then described as becoming ‘one flesh.'”

“Jesus confirmed this understanding of marriage when he was asked about divorce by the Pharisees. This is recorded in Mark 10:1–12 and Matthew 19:1–12. In His response Jesus quoted from Genesis 2, confirming that His understanding of marriage was one man for one woman. Confirming the covenantal nature of marriage, Jesus said that divorce was only allowed because of the hardness of the hearts of man. God intended, from the beginning, for marriages to consist of one man and one woman for the duration of their lives.”

The late preacher Lee Roy Shelton (1923 – 2003) once mourned, “We are living in a day of great lawlessness and ungodliness, and just about every man, woman, and child is doing what seems right in his or her own eyes, giving no heed to the righteous demands of God’s holy Law. Wickedness abounds in every stratum of our society.”

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