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"‘Polyamory’: the next civil rights movement?"

on Tuesday, 30 October 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

They used to call them “swingers.”  Not anymore.  These days, like most “alternative lifestyle” groups, they’ve adopted a new, more clinical-sounding description – polyamorist – and incorporated it into the names of a small but growing number of advocacy and social networking organizations.

As the battle over the true definition of marriage heats up nationwide, they want a place on the front line.

“Polyamorist” means “lover of many,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.  Polyamorists maintain more than one sexual relationship at a time, with the full consent and knowledge of all partners.  Some are married to one partner but maintain a rotating stable of lovers.  Others join together in more lasting unions between multiple partners – for example, a threesome or foursome (which they call ‘triads’ and ‘quads,’) wherein all parties enjoy sexual relations in various combinations – heterosexual, homosexual or both.

In the midst of Minnesota’s raging debate over gay ‘marriage,’ the Minneapolis-area City Pages recently featured two articles highlighting the polyamorist “lifestyle,” in which they interviewed some of its practitioners.

One such interview was with a mother of two young children, Julia Janousek.  Julia, who has been married for 12 years to her husband, Jim, told the City Pages they decided to “open [their] marriage up” three years ago.  She quickly met another man, Justin, and became sexually involved with him, a relationship that continues to this day.

Justin often spends nights at the couple’s house.  At first, says Julia, they tried to hide the nature of the relationship from the children, claiming that Justin was just a “friend” who came for “breakfast,” but they soon gave up the charade.

“My kids get up way too early,” she said, “so I just couldn’t keep that up.”

“Jami,” a 31-year-old practitioner of ‘polyamory’ who asked the City Pages not to use her real name, blamed reality television for her interest in the lifestyle. “Back in college, I saw an MTV True Life special that was all about polyamory,” she said, “and I was like, ‘This is interesting,’” Later, fictional television would continue to shape her views.  “Then I watched the show Big Love that was all about polygamy,” she explained, “and that got me thinking a lot more about my own life, even though it’s a little different.”

The Twin Cities, according to the City Pages, has an active polyamory scene.  The paper described it in the intro to its coverage as “the metro community that believes love is too big for just two.”

Same-sex “marriage” advocates have been adamant in their denial that a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples could lead to a “slippery slope” of legalized polygamy or even bestiality.  Polyamorists, however, appear to disagree.  Those interviewed by the City Pages drew direct parallels between themselves and homosexuals, believing that their relationships are no less valid. ...

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