The city of Somerville, Massachusetts is now recognizing polyamorous and platonic relationships – likely making it the only city in the US to do so.
The new domestic partnership ordinance will allow people to register themselves as domestic partners, even if there are more than two of them.
Once registered they’ll be able to visit their partners in hospital if they are sick. Moreover, the city will allow its employees to register all their partners on their health insurance policies. It will be up to private companies to decide if they will do the same.
The issue came up because of the coronavirus pandemic. One city councilor became concerned about people in committed relationships who couldn’t visit their loved-ones in hospital because they are not married.
The city passed the new domestic partnership ordinance unanimously and Mayor Joseph Curtatone has now signed it.
Moreover, the councilor who sponsored it said the feedback so far has been positive.
Councilor Lance Davis told the Boston Globe: ‘I got an email from someone at my church that said, “Wow, this is amazing. Thank you so much for doing this”.’
Families with more than two adults are nothing new
Other cities in Massachusetts had their own way of recognizing LGBT+ couples before the state allowed marriage equality in 2004. Indeed cities including Cambridge and Boston were years ahead of their time as the US Supreme Court didn’t rule in favor of marriage equality until 2015.
But unlike them, Somerville didn’t have a domestic partnership ordinance before.
Councilor JT Scott however felt it was important to recognize the full range of relationships in the city. He told The New York Times:
‘People have been living in families that include more than two adults forever.
‘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.’
So he contacted Davis. He asked why his proposed bill defined partnerships as being between only two people.
‘I said, “I don’t have a good answer for that”.’
So after some discussion they adjusted the language before putting it to the full council. In turn their colleagues agreed and voted it in without further discussion.