A Massachusetts city this week passed a groundbreaking ordinance recognizing polyamorous relationships, broadening the definition of domestic partnerships to include three or more people.
On Thursday, the city council of the left-leaning city of Somerville unanimously voted to pass the new domestic partnership policy, which will allow partnerships of multiple people to have the same rights as married couples, according to The New York Times.
The policy does not specify that the relationship between domestic partners needs to be romantic.
The ruling marks Somerville's first domestic partnership ordinance, Councilor Lance Davis told CNN, adding that it may be the first policy of its kind in the U.S.
Councilor J.T. Scott told the Times that he knows of at least two dozen polyamorous households in the city of approximately 80,000 residents.
“People have been living in families that include more than two adults forever,” Scott said. “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.”
He added to the Times, "This is simply allowing that change, allowing people to say, ‘This is my partner and this is my other partner.'"
David told CNN that the ordinance was brought to the city council as many residents who are unmarried struggled to visit their partners who are sick with COVID-19 in the hospital.
The ordinance now allows polyamorous groups to share health care benefits and see one another at the hospital.
In 2004, the state was the first in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage, CNN reported.
"Folks live in polyamorous relationships and have for probably forever. Right now, our laws deny their existence and that doesn't strike me as the right way to write laws at any level," Davis said, noting the positive feedback he's received about the ordinance.
Adding, "Hopefully this gives folks a legal foundation from which to have discussion. Maybe others will follow our lead."