Polyamorous relationships deserve equal legal protections, rules NY judge

While defending the rights of those in polyamorous relationships, NY Judge Bacdayan said: "Is 'two' a 'code word' for monogamy?"

Photo of a street protest where three people are holding an
Image: Nikolas Gannon via Unslash

In a recent ruling, New York Judge Karen May Bacdayan declared that the same law that protects two-person relationships should also protect polyamorous relationships.

Scott Anderson, Markyus O’Neill and Robert Romano were in a relationship in which Anderson and O’Neill lived together in an apartment, and Romano lived in a different location. Even though O’Neill and Romano did not live together, they were legally married.

When Anderson passed away, the building’s owner argued that O’Neill was not “a non-traditional family member” but rather just a “roommate” and could not renew the apartment’s lease. The case then proceeded to court, where the property owner’s attorney called the statement given by defendant Markyus O’Neill a “fairytale”.

However, Judge Bacdayan ruled in favour of protecting the rights of those in polyamorous relationships. And while stating her decision, she cited Obergefell v Hodges, the Supreme Court case that made same-sex marriage a constitutional right, calling it “groundbreaking”.

“In February 2020, the Utah legislature passed a so-called Bigamy Bill, decriminalizing the offense by downgrading it from a felony to a misdemeanor. In June [2020], Somerville, Massachusetts, passed an ordinance allowing groups of three or more people who ‘consider themselves to be a family’ to be recognized as domestic partners. The neighboring town of Cambridge followed suit, passing a broader ordinance recognizing multi-partner relationships. The law has proceeded even more rapidly in recognizing that it is possible for a child to have more than two legal parents”, she said.

Judge Bacdayan continues, “is ‘two’ a ‘code word’ for monogamy? Why does a person have to be committed to one other person in only certain prescribed ways in order to enjoy stability in housing after the departure of a loved one?” questioning the meaning of a “family-like relationship” dynamic.

According to LGBTQ Nation, the case will return to court as a result of the three individuals’ relationship being further investigated.

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