An Opening Up read-along!

Blogger Kit O'Connell has launched an Opening Up read-along! O'Connell is encouraging readers to follow along in Opening Up and engage in discussions about the various chapters -- and non-monogamy in general.

Here's how it will work: each week or so, O'Connell will post about a new section of the book and his thoughts on it, using that as a launching pad for more broad discussion of non-monogamy. He will also share his own experiences in the polyamorous lifestyle.

In this first post, O'Connell writes about the introduction in Opening Up:

In addition to talking about her background and the creation of the book, the introduction to Opening Up takes a look at the state of relationships in our culture today. Most of us grow up believing that lifelong monogamous marriage is not only the current default, but always has been for everyone . . . Countless events (the Stonewall riots), technological developments (birth control), and cultural changes have shown that there is no normal relationship and a lifetime of emotional & sexual monogamy is a rarity and not always a worthwhile or realistic goal.

. . . Opening Up attempts to cover a wide gamut of relationship styles, from polyamory of many kinds, to swinging, to pairings where one person is monogamous and the other poly. It has chapters devoted to major issues which confront us as we explore these new relationship styles, and profiles of how others have shaped their relationships. Remember as we go through this book that, quoting the author, "there is no formula for an open relationship." There is not even one definition of polyamory. Instead, approach your relationships as you would a toolbox -- choose from what works for you and your lovers, without worrying about what you perceive as normal.

The read-along will continue next Thursday, January 26th, with chapter 1, which examines the history of non-monogamy since the 1950s. Go contribute your voice to the discussion and follow along on O'Connell's blog, Approximately 8,000 Words.

“Monogamish” couples speak in Savage Love

In Dan Savage's recent Savage Love column, entitled "Meet the Monogamish," he hopes to squash the stereotype that non-monogamy is a recipe for disaster -- by simply sharing the stories of non-monogamous folks. Savage writes,

Why do most people assume that all nonmonogamous relationships are destined to fail? Because we only hear about the ones that do. If a three-way or an affair was a factor in a divorce or breakup, we hear all about it. But we rarely hear from happy couples who aren't monogamous, because they don't want to be perceived as dangerous sex maniacs who are destined to divorce.

. . . "You know lots of couples who have had three-ways and flings who aren't divorced," I told the skeptics a few weeks ago, "you just don't know you know them." In an effort to introduce the skeptics to some happily monogamish couples, I invited coupled people who'd had successful flings, affairs, three-ways, and swinging experiences to write in and share their stories.

Seven different letters are printed, ranging from threesomes to semi-open relationships. One reader writes in succinctly:

I agree with you that we rarely hear about successful marriages that are open. How do I know? I just discovered that my parents are swingers -- and they have been married for 26 years!

Read the rest of the stories in Savage Love.

What the Canadian ruling means for polyamorists

It's been a month and a half since the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding Canada's anti-polygamy law and narrowing its scope. In the poly community, nobody was quite sure how to react to the ruling. Now that the dust has settled, the attorney who represented the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association in the case has released an open letter to the Canadian polyamory community.

The attorney, John Ince, is poly himself, and although he thinks that the "scope of the prohibition" is too extreme, he believes that the decision is an overall positive one for polyamorists.

In general terms, I think that the decision allows us to do virtually anything the vast majority of polyamorists would want to do . . . His decision makes it clear that polyamorists are not criminals and this is a major step forward for our community to gain social acceptance and become more integrated into mainstream Canadian culture.

The reason for this, Ince explains, is that the ruling only criminalizes institutionalized marriages that are non-monogamous. Due to the definitions of the words "institutionalized" and "marriage," this law does not apply to poly relationships.

I conclude that given the lack of polyamorous history, sanction or support for "polyamorous marriage," that polyamorous people cannot form the type of marriages that the judge found are prohibited.

I go so far as to say that even if polyamorous people wanted to form such relationships, they cannot. The whole structure of institutionalization that the judge emphasized over and over again as key to his decision is simply lacking in our community.

. . . Because there is no polyamorous institution of marriage, how far can polyamorous people go in celebrating and formalizing their relationships? In my view: probably as far as they want.

So, polyamorists are free to have ceremonies, take vows of love, and exchange rings. To remove any legal risk, Ince suggests that any commitment ceremony refrain from using the word "marriage," or if that is not possible, avoid including any "official" in the process. A marriage is not a marriage under the law unless it is enforced by an institutionalized sanctioning authority.

And there are other upsides to the ruling, Ince explains.

Because the court found that polyamorous relationships that are not institutionalized into a form of marriage are lawful, people in such relationships no longer have to face the chilling argument in child custody, immigration or other matters that they are criminals. That is obviously a very positive outcome of this case.

Further, nothing in this case prevents people in cohabiting polyamorous relationships from entering contracts with respect to most key family issues, such as community property and the care of children, and hospital privileges.

For more in-depth, specific information on the implications of the Canadian ruling for the poly community, read Ince's full statement.

A polyfi triad on ABC’s “Private Practice”

Thursday's season premiere of ABC's "Private Practice," a medical drama that chronicles the lives of a group of doctors and patients, contained a surprisingly sympathetic poly-oriented subplot! Alongside other subplots, there's a polyfi triad -- two women and a man -- who want to have a child together, and the doctors assist them in their journey.

Alan M. describes the poly subplot in full:

In comes a nice, seemingly conventional lesbian couple, Kendra and Rose, to interview with the fertility specialist. They've been together six years and want a child -- one woman will be the egg donor, the other will bear the baby. Also along for the interview is the intended sperm donor, Evan . . . When the counselor advises the women that they need to have him sign away parental rights, they balk, and the truth comes out: they're not actually conventional at all.

"We're all in love," they reveal, holding hands.

"We know it sounds crazy—"

As they're explaining: "That first night was amazing. And, so was the next morning. And, every morning after that. Most mornings."

. . . The docs in the practice discuss it among themselves. "A what?" "A polyamorous triad." They debate. "...That's the same argument that said interracial and same-sex couples shouldn't have children." The docs come to agreement: they will do the egg fertilization and implant, as the three wish.

But this is a TV drama, right? An ultrasound reveals a problem.

Read the rest of Alan M.'s account to find out how the storyline resolves itself. Or better yet, check out the 43-minute episode on ABC's website or on Hulu.