Sunday, June 28, 2009

UUPA Compares and Contrasts Polyamory and Polygamy

I am a member of the Board of Trustees of Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness, and in preparation for this week's annual UU General Assembly in Salt Lake City, trustee Jasmine Walston and others drafted the following language for a brochure to be used to answer anticipated questions at UUPA's booth in the exhibit hall and elsewhere regarding the differences between polygamy and polyamory. It is exceedingly well done and provides a lot of food for thought. I share it with you here.


Polygamy and Polyamory

Q: Polygamy and Polyamory – Are they really the same thing?

Polyamory and polygamy can look similar on the surface. Deeper examination reveals this question to be complicated by factors such as community, language, religion, gender equity, sexual orientation, abuse concerns, and experience.


The polyamory community and the polygamous community in the United States are separate groups that know very little about each other. Furthermore, neither group is one cohesive community. Both the “polyamory community” and the “polygamy community” in reality consist of a variety of diverse communities and independent families. To further complicate matters, some independent families practice polygamy or polyamory without any connection to either community.


The term “polygamy” is marriage based, historically and sociologically. The term includes both polygyny, a husband with more than one wife, and polyandry, a wife with more than one husband. Throughout human history and across cultures, both polygamous and monogamous marriages have occurred, with polygamous marriages acceptable in the majority of cultures. Both types have at times included marriages arranged for political, economic, religious and/or familial benefit.

In the U.S., the general public associates polygamy with fundamentalist Mormonism. These families prefer the term “plural marriage.” However, polygamy can20also be found in other types of communities. An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Muslim immigrants living in the U.S are polygamous (NPR, May 2008). Information about immigrant polygamists of other religions is difficult to find. Another example is Christian polygamy, neither fundamentalist Mormonism nor immigrants. The idea that polygamy is limited to fundamentalist Mormons is deeply rooted in the American imagination, but it is inaccurate.

The term “polyamory” is relationship based, but it is not necessarily tied to marriage. It is a new term with a short history, just beginning to make its way into sociological literature. The term covers a variety of multi-partner relationship styles, that might or might not involve one or more marriages;=2 0and each of those marriages, if any, might involve two or more individuals. Polyamorous relationship structures might include open marriage, open relationships, group marriage, intimate networks, or combinations of the above.


The most well-known polygamous communities are associated with a religious doctrine that supports it. Muslims practicing polygyny refer to the ve rse in the Quran (4:3) which states that a man may take up to four wives. Fundamentalist Mormons describe plural marriage as commanded by God and necessary to receive specific blessings in the afterlife, including eternal marriage (Mary Batchelor et. al.; Voices in Harmony). Christian polygamists, claiming to come from conservative churches, quote Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and cite Biblical patriarchs to support their understanding of polygyny as “clearly only a matter of believing the Scriptures, believing what the Scriptures actually say and have always actually said.” (The Christian polygamy "Movement").

Within polygamous communities, religious doctrines shared with other individuals provide support and encouragement. Neighbors, co-workers, and sometimes extended family members within the group are likely to be supportive. At the same time, societal hostility dictates caution about visibility outside the polygamous community.

Polyamory is associated with no religious doctrine, no commandments from God or prophets, no promises about the afterlife. Polyamory is a personal issue that each person, couple, or multi-partner family must sort out for themselves. No shared doctrines are availabl e to provide support or encouragement. Rather, quite the opposite is the case. Mainstream religions in the U.S. declare that monogamy is the only acceptable relationship form. Extended family, congregation members, neighbors, or co-workers might provide condemnation rather than support. People in polyamorous relationships often stay “in the closet” about their family structure to the people they spend the most time with. Alternatively, a few people in polyamorous relationships “come out” completely.

Religion still matters immensely for some people in polyamorous relationships. Despite mainstream hostility toward multi-partner relationships, individuals of faith in these families may feel a need to reconcile these two parts of themselves and understand their relationships and their faith in terms of each other.

Gender Equity

Polygamy can include practices in which a woman may have more than one partner, but the U.S. has no known examples of any such polyandrous communities. Christian and Muslim polygamy and Mormon plural marriage are polygynous by doctrine, restricting the privilege of multiple spouses to the man.
By contrast, the polyamory community insists on gender equity. Individuals of any gender are permitted multi-partner relationships within the negotiated agreements of their partnerships.

Sexual Orientation

The lang uage of polygamy is geared toward heterosexuality. In polygyny, a man marries two or more wives; in polyandry, two or more men marry one wife. Same sex relationships do not easily fit with this language. The response of the diverse polygamous communities to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender people in their groups is not well known.

The language of polyamory maintains neutrality toward sexual orientation, and the polyamory community generally is welcoming toward bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. For example: If one man and two women have a “vee” relationship (where one person has two partners), the general public will typically assume that it is the man who has two partners. However, the person with two partners might very well be one of the women instead of the man. Similarly, if two men and one woman have a vee relationship, the person with t wo partners might be one of the men instead of the woman. Polyamorous same sex relationships occur as well. The polyamory community welcomes same gender multi-partner families.

Abuse Concerns

Although most of the general public associates polygamy with non-consent and child abuse, abuse occurs in every community, including monogamous and polyamorous ones. UUs have learned from social justice work that painting all people in any community with the same brush is simplistic and unjust.

UUs have also learned that closets and isolation allow abuse to flourish, leaving people too afraid to re port abuse directed at themselves or their neighbors. Abused immigrant women in Italy in polygamous marriages were afraid to seek help because the law in Italy does not protect polygamous wives in the manner that the law protected them in their country of origin (“Italy grapples with polygamy”.

The Attorneys General of Utah and Arizona have recognized this reality. They spearheaded the creation of the Safety Net Committee, which helps people20in polygamous situations have access to social services, whether they leave or stay. Representatives of the plural marriage community serve on this Safety Net Committee and participate fully in creating and maintaining safe avenues for reporting abuse “Funding approved for polygamous 'Safety Net'".

Abuse must be dealt with separately from family structure. As in monogamous families, only sensational abuse makes the headlines. Polygamous families don't want to be defined by the offenders in their communities any more than the rest of us do.


From the standpoint of behavior alone, certain types of polyamory and certain types of polygamy appear identical. A multi-partner, loving marriage of adults, entered into with the consent of all, meets the behavioral description of both polygamy and polyamory.

From the standpoint of culture, considerable differences exist. Two similarly configured families, one=2 0belonging to each community , will likely have tremendously different responses from their extended family, faith community, and neighbors. The polygamous family might put a much different emphasis on “marriage” and the importance of restricting intimacy to the marriage relationship. The polyamorous family might or might not consider their family group a marriage, and might allow intimate relationships outside the group.

The stereotype has often been voiced that a polyamorous family and a polygamous family are interchangeable. This idea is mistaken. Two similarly configured families, one belonging to each community, will develop an identification with their respective communities. Supposing their personal experiences to be largely identical, their communities of identification will still vary significantly in myriad ways. Each family would likely feel like a fish out of water if they suddenly found themselves transported to the other community…which brings us full circle back to community as a distinguishing characteristic.

Speaking Out

In the past decade, some fundamentalist Mormon plural wives have stepped out of their hundred-year isolation, obtaining a seat at the table with state government and a voice in determining their own destiny. Muslim polygamists and Christian polygamists have yet to be heard from to the same extent. In this same decade, polyamorists have stepped out of their closets, seeking to raise awareness and acceptance of polyamory. Polygamous and polyamorous communities provide=2 0informational resources for themselves and the general public.

Considerable differences exist between polygamy and polyamory. The desire to live their lives openly, confidently, without hiding in fear is common to both communities.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Loving More Sanford Press Release

Loving More Non-Profit
June 25, 2009

LOVING MORE® non-profit is all too familiar with Governor Mark Sanford’s challenging situation. We are an organization that helps and supports people in finding ethical, mutually agreed-upon ways for loving more than one person in honest multi-partnered relationships. We help partners consciously negotiate their relationship styles and agreements, whether monogamy or polyamory, with ethics and integrity.

Loving More Executive Director Robyn Trask issued the following statement.

"My heart goes out to Mr. Sanford, his wife and kids, and to his lover in Argentina. In my job I am contacted by people from all walks of life going through similar challenges of loving more than one. It is painful and heart-wrenching for all involved. We live in a culture that is in denial of the fact that many people are capable of, and do find themselves, loving more than one person, and we laden them with guilt for loving. People are calling Gov. Sanford's case a "sex scandal," but if you listen to Mr. Sanford and read his words, it is obvious this not about sex but about love and connection; it would be better described as a love scandal. Is he a hypocrite? Yes, but he is also human. The real scandal is denying the impossibility for some of monogamy. What would happen if in our culture, ethical, agreed-upon polyamory were as acceptable as monogamy??

Politics aside, this is a man in crisis because we as a society have decided there is only one right way to have a loving relationship. We ignore the statistics and heart ache that say otherwise and even the Bible. Many of our greatest leaders have followed this trend in the past from John F Kennedy to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Isn’t it good for people, especially our leaders, to be loving people and have a big heart? Isn’t this why many go into politics, and isn’t it natural that many of these people can truly love more than one person?”

One of our members, Michael Rios, said it well in a comment he made about the story in the Washington Post.

“I'm no fan of Sanford, nor the hypocrites of either party, but the real story here is that monogamy is *not* the right choice for a lot of people. Even with such strong convictions and so much to lose, these "family values" types keep stepping out of line. They aren't *that* weak-- a weak person couldn't have gotten to where they are.

It would be a lot better for the children, and for the spouses, if non-monogamous types (which by any measure seem to be a majority), whether politicians or not, could acknowledge who and what they really are. Sanford fell in love with one woman while married to another. In Biblical times, this would not be a problem -- polygamy was practiced by many of the foremost Biblical figures.

A sexist institution of that sort would not be acceptable to most folks today, of course. But there are millions of Americans of both genders who have found a way to be honest and responsible while loving more than one romantic partner. The practice of this is called "polyamory". When many people first encounter this idea, they realize that their style of loving is not immoral, disturbed, or inferior. Many of these people have been living this way for decades, having long-term stable relationships, raising children, and being responsible members of society. Of course, most of them have to keep this hidden, for fear of being attacked or having their children taken away.

I keep waiting for some politician to have the guts to say (as a number of European politicians have done), “Yes, I love both of them, and intend to keep both of them in my life.” ”

Loving More is aware of one politician who did just that, Colorado Governor Roy Romer in 1998. When questioned about his relationship with former aide B. J. Thornberry, he admitted to a 16 year relationship. Denying that it was an affair, Governor Romer explained that he had a close and complex relationship with Thornberry, and he further clarified that his family and wife were aware of the relationship all along and that it would continue. Romer defined to the press that marital fidelity was about “openness” and “trust”. Although there was some shock at his statements, it is interesting to note that when he acknowledged the relationship openly the press quickly lost interest.

With these latest developments involving a high level politician who has a long standing rhetoric of “traditional family values”, Loving More is even further committed to educating people from all walks of life about open, honest loving alternatives to monogamy. There is no one-size-fits-all model of relationship.

Our Director Robyn Trask asks, ““When will we all wake up to these realities, or are we as a nation too addicted to scandal and drama to allow people to be real and human, and to talk about the need for wider loving arrangements that can -- if there is understanding and free agreement all around -- work?”

About Loving More®

Loving More Non-Profit Corporation
PO Box 1658
Loveland, CO 80539

Board of Directors/Staff
Robyn Trask, Managing Director and Editor
Jesus V Garcia, IT Director/Board Member
Anita Wagner, Board of Directors Member

Friday, June 5, 2009

Join Me for Reid's Day of Jealousy Teleclasses

Reid’s Day of Jealousy with Guest Jealousy Experts! Three Calls! Amazing Experts!

Get the 411 on How YOU Can Beat Jealousy on this by-donation teleclass!

Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Times: Three calls throughout the day @ 10am; 2pm; 8:30pm EDT

Location: Dial-In from Anywhere Teleclass

How: Register for Call in Codes by ordering tickets to this by-donation teleclass via Eventbrite

Where: Across the nation


Tuesday, June 9th has been declared a Day of Jealousy. What does this mean?

It means that sex and relationship educator Reid Mihalko is hosting three, by-donation teleclasses that are going to be jammed packed with relationship experts, therapists, educators and specialists who are going to share their thoughts and life experiences on dealing with the Green-Eyed Monster!

It means that Reid’s wrangling up some “jealousy black belts” (she says modestly) to brain-dump and share as much useful info, perspectives, wisdom and advice that we can on one of the most feared, debilitating, and misunderstood emotions in relationships: Jealousy!

In fact, there are so many amazing experts to have on this call that he's hosting three teleclasses: one in morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, all with completely different panels!

On these calls, you will learn…

• Different ways of looking at and understanding jealousy
• Tools, tips, and tricks for effectively battling the Green-Eyed Monster
• How to stop fearing jealousy and living and loving boldly
• Ways you can use jealousy to actually, believe it or not, IMPROVE your relationships!

We will also cover…

• Techniques for dealing with a jealous partner
• How to create teamwork in your relationships when it comes to jealousy
• Things you can do to make your relationship-world a less jealous one!

Can’t make any of the three calls or afraid you might miss one? No problem. All three calls will be recorded and everyone who registers for these teleclasses will receive links to download each recording.

Call info…


Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Call 1 - 10-11:30AM EST/7-8:30AM Pacific
Call 2 - 2-3:30PM EST/11AM-12:30PM Pacific
Call 3 - 8:30-10PM EST/5:30-7PM Pacific

COST: By donation. Pay $1. Pay $30. Or register for Free. It’s all good!

Register to receive the dial-in numbers and access codes for this amazing resource for information on one of the most feared emotions in relationships, and begin getting over your fear of jealousy today!

Questions? Email Reid at reid (at) or call him at 917.207.4554

Day of Jealousy’s
Guest Panel of Jealousy Experts
(With More Panelists Being Posted Soon…)

10-11:30AM EST/7-8:30AM Pacific

DR. YVONNE K. FULBRIGHT: Currently the “sexpert” for, Yvonne, founder of, was identified by the U.S. Secretary of Health as an expert and key leader in the area of sexual and reproductive health and became consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action on “Promoting Responsible Sexual Behavior” at just 23-years-old.

DIANA ADAMS, ESQ: Diana Adams of is a relationship educator who also runs her own sexual civil rights law practice in New York City. She teaches workshops on effective communication, tools for healthy nonmonogamous relationships, physical self-defense, and more, and offers individual and relationship coaching.

LEN DALEY: Len Daley has 50 years of experience helping people. His education in Psychology, Education, Bodywork and experience as a family and couples’ therapist, consultant, leader and problem solver, as well as being the father of 12 and grandfather of 16 have prepared him to be of valuable service to humankind.

MARCIA BACZYNSKI: Marcia Baczynski is director of relationship programming at An extraordinarily talented workshop designer and facilitator, teacher, coach and leader who is passionate about providing the world with better tools for relationships and sexuality and empowering people to use them, Marcia landed herself in the international media spotlight as co-creator and spokesperson of the unique communication and intimacy workshop Cuddle Party.

2-3:30PM EST/11AM-12:30PM Pacific

NINA HARTLEY: Nina Hartley of is one of the most endearing and enduring performers and sex-positive educators in the adult film industry. A published author, director, performer, activist and educator, Nina got her start in 1982, during her sophomore year of nursing school when she started working as a stripper at Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theater. In 1984, during her junior year, Nina made her foray into the world of pornographic movies debuting in the massive adult film hit Educating Nina. After graduating with her nursing degree, Nina went into adult film full-time, going on to feature in over 650 adult films and become one of the most recognizable adult performers and sex educators in the industry.

DOSSIE EASTON: Dossie Easton, Ph.D, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author of The Ethical Slut (published in 1997 and re-issued in 2009 in it’s 25% bigger, 2nd edition!). Dossie has also co-authored The New Bottoming Book and The New Topping Book, When Someone You Love Is Kinky and Radical Ecstasy: SM Journeys to Transcendence as well as numerous articles and essays the world over.

KELLY BRYSON: Kelly Bryson, MA is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Nonviolent Communication Trainer, Author, Public Speaker and Life Coach. Author of the best selling book, Don’t be Nice, Be Real - Balancing Passion for Self with Compassion for Others, COVER TEXT: A Handbook to Nonviolent Communication™, and contributor to the anthology The Marriage of Sex and Spirit (with Deepak Chopra, John Gray, Scott Peck, Margo Anand, Wayne Dyer, Thich Nhat Hanh, Riane Eisler, and Barbara Marx Hubbard), Kelly has been featured in Elle and Shape magazines and appeared on many TV and Radio shows speaking about relationships dynamics and effective communication skills.

BABA DEZ NICOLS: Baba Dez is a Daka, author, singer-songwriter, and transformational guide, trained in the Sacred Temple Arts of Tantra to teach, inspire, and support others in their integration of the divine masculine and feminine (Shiva/Shakti) energies within. He is the founder of the Sedona Temple and School of Temple Arts and the Annual Daka-Dakini Conferences for sacred sexual healers, Tantra teachers and practitioners. He has studied, assisted, and been blessed with the presence and wisdom of many masters around the world for over 30 years.

8:30-10PM EST/5:30-7PM Pacific

CAROL QUEEN, PH.D: Dr. Queen is a writer and cultural sexologist with a Ph.D. in human sexuality. She is a noted essayist whose work has appeared in dozens of anthologies. Her essay collection, Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, was published in 1997 and reissued in 2002; it is read in university classes across America. Her erotic stories can be found in several Best American Erotica volumes, among many other anthologies; her erotic novel, The Leather Daddy and the Femme, was published in 1998 and won a Firecracker Alternative Book Award the following year. Her first book, Exhibitionism for the Shy, published in 1995, explores issues of erotic self-esteem and enhancement and will be reissued with new material in 2009.

BARBARA CARRELLAS: Barbara Carrellas an author, sex coach, university lecturer, workshop facilitator, motivational speaker and theater artist. Her most recent books are Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century and Luxurious Loving: Tantric Inspirations for Passion and Pleasure. Barbara’s pioneering Urban Tantra® workshops were named best in New York City by TimeOut and New York Magazine. She is also the co-founder of Erotic Awakening, a groundbreaking series of workshops that toured the United States and Australia.

KAMALA DEVI: Kamala Devi of is a down to earth tantra goddess who has been studying and practicing yoga, tantra, sacred sexuality, and sexual healing during her extensive travels for the past eleven years. A prolific writer, Kamala is the author of Don’t Drink the Punch: An Adventure in Tantra, Sacred Sexual Healing with Baba Dez Nichols and Teaching Tantra the EROTIC WAY as well as numerous stage plays. She is currently working on a manuscript with Reid entitled, Free-Love, Can you Really Afford it? Kamala has recently appeared nationally on Tyra Banks’s Tyra, the Morning Show, Inside Edition, MTV and several programs overseas.

ANITA WAGNER: Anita Wagner of is a polyamory advocate, writer, spokesperson and educator. She has appeared on television in interviews on polyamory in Washington, DC and Baltimore, in newspaper articles in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and, amongst many others, and has presented educational programs on resolving jealousy and other topics related to polyamorous relationships at a wide variety of alternative relationship conferences.

MARK MICHAEL LEWIS: Mark Michael Lewis is the author of RelationDancing and Problems Are The Solution - two guides to creating thriving and fulfilling partnerships, as well as The Key Is In The Darkness: Unlocking The Door To A Spiritual Life. He has spoken before thousands of people, consulted with hundreds of businesses, and coached hundreds of individuals and couples on fulfilling relationships, communication skills, financial success, and personal development. Mark has a degree in Psychology and combines insights from over 20 years of helping clients.