A Massachusetts City Officially Recognizes Polyamorous Relationships

The city of Somerville, Massachusetts passed an ordinance officially recognizing polyamorous relationships, making it one of the first cities in the nation to do so. Attorney Ben Barry of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with WIZN discussing the implications of this new ordinance. Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.

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Joe: 106.7 WIZN and Aerosmith, it’s “Janie’s Got a Gun,” I heard The Cars and “You Might Think” before that. Joe Vega here with you on your Wednesday Rocking Ride Home. And I’ve got Ben Barry on the phone right now from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Ben.

Ben: Hello, Joe.

Joe: So, Ben, I’m calling you in regards to the story coming out of Somerville, Massachusetts which has basically legalized polyamorous relationships, meaning that you can have more than one legal partner. And I was just wondering, you know, what can you tell me about this law? What do you know?

Ben: What I can tell you is that generally speaking municipalities can grant certain rights. In this particular circumstance, Somerville, I presume… Well, let me go back. The grant of this recognition is going to be limited to Somerville. It’s not something that will apply to the State of Massachusetts, and certainly doesn’t apply to the United States. It’s a recognition of a certain contract between more than two people. And so the rights that would flow from that recognition are going to be limited in their scope. I presume that it probably mostly would impact employees of that municipality because they probably are going to obtain a benefit, for example, a health insurance benefit that will be paid by the municipality for that second partner.

Joe: Property ownership, that sort of thing, right?

Ben: Yeah, exactly. That’s probably where the rubber meets the road on this particular circumstance. So what that means for the larger State of Massachusetts, I don’t know, but again, it’s whatever they’re doing there is going to be limited in terms of the effect that it would have on other people, other tax-paying members of Massachusetts and the larger public.

Joe: How easily could this law get abused? I mean, they didn’t accidentally legalize polygamy, did they?

Ben: It absolutely can but marriage is in and of itself to the traditional notion of marriage can also be abused. So I think that an abuser will abuse and it doesn’t matter what context they’re in.

Joe: Sure, sure.

Ben: I think that we run the same risk, either way. The question I think really has to do with what are the collateral consequences? If people love each other, fine, that’s great. But oftentimes that comes with a cost, and the question is whether or not that cost is going to be borne out by people who just absolutely do not recognize or cannot recognize what it is that the municipality is going to recognize.

Joe: All right. Thank you very much, Ben Barry.

Ben: Thank you, Joe.

Joe: You can call Ben at any time at 1-800-LAW-1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. All right. Mel Allen is taken over from here. He’s got music from ZZ Top and the Rolling Stones next.

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