Harvard Law pushes “polyamory and the law”

Harvard Law Today 3 August 2021
Family First Comment: As predicted…. Here it comes:
“Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, also known as PLAC, was established in the fall of 2020 by a psychologist and five lawyers focused on LGBTQ+ issues. Among them was Harvard Law Lecturer on Law Alexander Chen ’15, founding director of the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic. While polyamorous relationships come in a wide variety of forms, at their core is the idea that people should be able to choose how they shape their families, including how many consenting adults they wish to be included. These types of relationships are becoming increasingly common, according to PLAC, which notes that 4 to 5 percent of people in the U.S. are in a consensual non-monogamous relationship… In 2020 and 2021, three Boston-area municipalities — the city of Somerville followed by Cambridge, and the town of Arlington — became the first in the country to extend the legal definition of domestic partnerships to include polyamorous relationships.”

Alexander Chen ’15, director of the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic at HLS, is working with students to offer legal protections for people in polyamorous relationships

Natasha Aggarwal LL.M. ’21 didn’t know much about polyamory until last spring, when she became a clinical student in the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. But after working at the clinic with the newly created Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, Aggarwal, a corporate lawyer from India who came to HLS last year to study feminist theory, says: “Now I feel very, very strongly about it.”

“People have been fired from work because their boss discovered they were polyamorous,” says Aggarwal, who is continuing her work as a summer fellow in the clinic. “It’s a problem for health insurance, for living arrangements such as leases and deeds,” she says, naming “a few of the areas that need legal protection.”

Polyamory is a form of non-monogamous relationship involving more than two adult partners at the same time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved, according to Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, also known as PLAC, which was established in the fall of 2020 by a psychologist and five lawyers focused on LGBTQ+ issues. Among them was Harvard Law Lecturer on Law Alexander Chen ’15, founding director of the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic. While polyamorous relationships come in a wide variety of forms, at their core is the idea that people should be able to choose how they shape their families, including how many consenting adults they wish to be included.

These types of relationships are becoming increasingly common, according to PLAC, which notes that 4 to 5 percent of people in the U.S. are in a consensual non-monogamous relationship. Polyamory stands out from other such relationships, PLAC explains, because polyamorists tend to be open to falling in love with more than one person. (Polyamory is different than polygamy, in which one husband has multiple wives — a practice frowned upon as patriarchal and one-sided by many polyamory advocates.) Yet despite the emphasis on love among its adherents, polyamorous relationships have few legal protections and people and families face discrimination in such basic needs as jobs, housing, and obtaining health insurance for more than one partner.

Formed as a coalition of academic and legal professionals, PLAC works to advance the civil and human rights of polyamorous people, communities, and families through legislative advocacy, public policy, and public education. Now, after years of stasis in the movement for rights, the past year has seen unprecedented success.

In 2020 and 2021, three Boston-area municipalities — the city of Somerville followed by Cambridge, and the town of Arlington — became the first in the country to extend the legal definition of domestic partnerships to include polyamorous relationships. PLAC worked on both the Cambridge and Arlington efforts, and is now working with advocates in California on domestic partnerships and non-discrimination legislation.
READ MORE: https://today.law.harvard.edu/polyamory-and-the-law/

 

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