Last Post/Moving On

Hey folks.

While I didn’t admit it to myself until recently, I’ve been slowly working towards closing down Polyamory on Purpose for a while. As much as I’ve loved my time here and am proud of the work I’ve done, I’m burnt out.

Unfortunately, I just got blind sided by some personal shit and I don’t have the spoons for anything but the bare minimum right now. So the gradual transition I intended isn’t going to happen.

Instead… well, this is it.

Going forward, you can find me on www.jessmahler.com. I’ve archived all the Polyamory on Purpose blog posts over there, and I’ll still be working on updating old posts when I can. And I’ll still be writing stuff about polyamory from time to time, because, hell, it’s too much of my life NOT to include it.

But I’ll be writing other stuff as well. Mental illness and autism and yarn crafting and nerdery and politics and kink and all kinds of stuff.

I don’t know what I’m gonna do about the PoP books I have in process right now. I mean, I’ve got the entire Safer Sex book written, it just needs some heavy revision and shit. So I’ll probably finish it and get it out eventually. Just… not on any specific schedule right now.

In a week or so I’ll be setting up re-direct so folks who come to this website will end up at the PoP archive on jessmahler.com. I hope you’ll follow me there.

Thanks for being part of a great part of my life.

All my best,

Jess Mahler

STIs Protection (Introduction)

Minimal changes here. Mostly just changed STD/STI to STI. The biggest change is the last sentence of the post, which wasn’t there in any form in the original. I intend to spend a bit more time directly addressing STI stigma this time around, starting with a new post inserted into the series next week.

The bit at the end about a trip is from when this post was first written. I’m leaving it there bc it’s part of the history of the blog and why the hell not? updated 11/16/17

Protection against STIs

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s you likely heard the refrain of ‘barrier method’ (a euphemism for ‘condom’) as the only way to have sex without risk of STI. Like many simplistic answers to complex problems it is partly accurate, but leaves out a whole lot.
In theory, the best way to avoid STI is to not have sex with anyone who has an STI. If you and all your sexual partners are regularly tested for STIs, you shouldn’t need to worry, right? Unfortunately, this only works in theory.
The truth is that while STI testing is available at reasonable cost or free in most areas of the US, Canada and Europe (can’t comment on the rest of the world) that it is rare for STI testing to cover all possible infections. For instance, most don’t bother testing for herpes unless you have visible lesions. (Why? Because the test is notoriously unreliable otherwise. More on that another week.)
In addition, as mentioned last week, there are STIs that can infect you without any sexual contact. So even not having sex at all doesn’t provide 100% protection. The most important thing you can do, for yourself and your sexual partners is get it through your heads that there is no such thing as fully protecting yourself from STIs. All you can do is manage your risks.
The second most important thing you can do is understand that most of the time, getting an STI is not the end of the world. Or even your sex life. (More on this next week.)
—————————————————————————–
Sorry for the late (and short) post. Getting ready for this trip has cut unto my time and sanity, I’m afraid. So rather than write a shitty post, I’m stopping here and I’ll continue the topic next time.
Be well all, I’ll be back in two weeks.

Polyamory and Finance: Risk or Safety?

Building on previous posts, today we’re talk about the first of your financial priorities: risk or safety.

Risk or Safety

At first glance, you might ask why anyone would prioritize risk. The short version is that in money stuff, risk is usually tied to opportunity.

As a general rule, the more you have, the more you can afford to risk. When you realize that risk is tied to opportunity, you begin to understand who it is easier for the rich to get richer than for the poor to get rich.

Starting a new company is a risk–but if that company is successful you can have more money AND set your own hours.

Switching jobs is a risk–but if that risk is successful you can have a better paying job, or a healthier work environment, or be at a company that offers better advancement opportunities.

Investing is risk, taking a loan is a risk, paying for a certificate course so you can try for a different career is a risk.

There’s no one right answer

Whether you choose to risk of play it safe is ultimately a personal choice. There are very valid arguments to focus on safety if you are poor–but there are also arguments for risking if you pick your risks carefully.

And the same applies no matter how much money you have.

It’s not binary

Like most things, this isn’t a binary choice. It’s a spectrum with risk and safety on the two extreme ends. And your situation will change what is a risk and what is safety. For most people, going back to school will be a big risk, especially with what tuition is these days. But some companies have programs where they will pay for you to go back to school. In that case the going back to school may be safer than keeping your current job because you aren’t paying the tuition, your company will be less likely to lay you off (because they’ve invested in your tuition) and you’ll have a near-guaranteed higher paying job once you graduate.

So…. Polyamory?

How polyamory affects this decision is largely a matter of the decisions you’ve made about your polyamory. If you have kept your money completely unentwined and have made no financial commitments to or with your polyam partners, then risk or safety is entirely up to your personal preference.

Commitments

The more commitments you have made, the more you will usually need to lean toward safety to be sure you can keep those commitments. With no commitments, you can risk everything. With commitments, you can risk only what you haven’t committed or else you are risking breaking those commitments.

Again, this is easier for rich folks because their “everything is bigger. Someone with money can risk what would be “everything” for someone poor and have a cushion left over so they aren’t risking the commitments they may have made.

Entwinement

If your finances are entwined with other peoples–joint bank accounts, joint budgets, etc, then this decision isn’t yours to make alone. you need to talk with the partners you share finances with and come to an agreement on what level of risk and/or safety everyone is comfortable with.

 

This really isn’t a polyamory issue

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that nothing I’ve discussed here (or in the last three posts) is REALLY specific to polyamory. It could apply to any situation where you are (or aren’t) dealing with the questions of sharing finances and how to handle finances

Joreth is fond of saying that there are no polyamory problems, only relationship problems. I don’t entirely agree, but in this case it definitely applies. But it’s kind of like learning to do a math problem by rote without understanding it. In monogamy, everything works a certain way and people rarely talk about it and never really break down the individual decisions that are made. We know that 5*3=15, without understanding what that really means.

So when we’re presented with 6*4=?, or “how do we handle finances in a polyamorous relationship” we don’t know how to start figuring it out. Not until we break the situation down into individual pieces, the way I’ve been doing here.

What are STIs?

Expanded the “what are STIs” bit to make it clearer that there are infections which aren’t considered STIs that you can still get from sex, because language is weird that way. Other than that mostly cleaned up typos and grammar. Updated October 20, 2017
If I’m going to spend the next couple months discussing STIs, it seems like a good idea to start with what exactly they are, but first let’s take a look at terminology.

STD or STI?

STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. STI for sexually transmitted infection. STD is an old term, that many doctors no longer consider accurate. Basically, in medico-speak, a disease is something that causes symptoms which affect your health and well being. If you get hit with a virus, bacteria or fungus that doesn’t cause any symptoms, it’s an infection, not a disease. A lot of sexually transmitted stuff doesn’t cause symptoms, so many doctors now use STI instead.

Since this kind of change in medical terminology doesn’t make the headlines, non-medical websites, books and pamphlets that discuss sexually transmitted infections sometimes use STD, sometimes use STI and sometimes use both.

When I first write this blog series I used the slashy version ‘STD/STI’ on this blog, so that people who come into the series in the middle and might not have come across ‘STI’ would still know what I was talking about. Now that ‘STI’ has become more familiar, I’ll be changing the series to use just ‘STI’.

What Are STIs? And Why Do We Care?

STIs are pretty much just what the name says: infections that are transmitted sexually. Some viruses and bacteria really like the genitals. They are moist and warm and perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. They have mucus membranes, making them good places for viruses to invade cells.

And unlike the inside of the nose, other warm, moist mucusy areas come into contact with our genitals, making it possible for infections to jump from one person the another.

An infection whose primary means of moving from person to person is genital contact is caused an STI. That means there are many infections (mononucleosis, for instance) which you can get from sex but are not considered STIs, becuase usually people are infected some other way. And there are some STIs that have other means of jumping from person-to-person.

It is a basic fact: a person who never lets anyone else touch their genitals will probably not get an STI. Similarly, if people (of what ever number) who have no STIs are sexually exclusive for their entire lives, it is unlikely that any of them will ever get an STI.

Please note ‘probably’ and ‘unlikely’. As mentioned above, there are several STIs that can infect a person through other avenues. Blood borne STIs are the classic example of this.

It is, however, a reality of non-monogamy that having multiple sex partners makes STI infection easier. Thankfully, openly non-monogamous folks are pretty good at taking precautions against STIs.

Next week I’ll be taking a look at ways you can protect yourself and your partners against STD/STI infection.

STIs

Biggest change here is removing references to “safer sex” where ever possible. As I discussed Sunday, I’ve recently come to the realization that by equating “protecting against STIs” with “safer sex” we’re missing a big part of the safer sex discussion. So I am no long referring to discussing STIs as discussing safer sex, etc etc. Probably when I’m done with the Finances blog series I’ll start writing about the wider aspects of the safer sex discussion that are usually forgotten or ignored. YOu may notice that I’ve also stopped doing “STD/STI”. When I started this blog series “STI” was a relatively new and unknown term and I felt I needed to use both to be everyone understood. These days STI is well known and the most used term in the polyam communities I am part of. So I can stop using STD and just go with STI, which is the term I prefer. I’ll note here that the medical community is not in agreement about which term to use and both terms are perfectly acceptable. Updated oct 20, 2018.

If you’ve been involved in polyamory for any length of time, participated on any forums, read any blogs or books, eventually you will have come across topic of STIs. It is a medical fact that by having more than one sexual partner, you increase your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection. If by some chance you haven’t already run across a good discussion of the hows and whys of discussing STIs, I suggest you take a brief detour to More Than Two’s Negotiating Safe Sex. It’s on the short side, but hits the basics of discussing STIs very well. You might also find some other good info there on dealing with jealousy and other relationship-related polyam stuff (as opposed to practical-type stuff I try to focus on here).

Still, even most polyam folk who know and follow standard s and staying healthy. Just as a for instance, I had a first meeting with a potential partner once, who when we discussed safer sex said he had no objection to getting regular STI testing if I could pay for it – since it cost over $100 a person. What he didn’t know, and I turned up in a 5 minute web search, is that the local health department offers STI testing for $10 a person.

I’ve also run across a frightful amount of misinformation over the years on polyam forums about STIs, how they are prevented, how common they are, and, oh, lots of stuff.

So, next week I’m beginning a new series on STIs. I’ll be covering what STIs are, finding places to get tested in your area, and brief introduction to the various STIs, how they are treated, and just how much of a concern they are. Along with some other semi-random stuff.

In the meantime, if you want to do some research of your own, the American Sexual Health Association is a decent place to start.

Polyamory and Money Stuff: Entwinement or Autonomy

A few weeks ago, I spent some time riffing on polyamory and finance and I ended with the idea that both polyamory and money stuff require us to set priorities, and which priorities we set affects the decisions we make. For polyamory, I mentioned three choices we make:

Today we’re looking at the third of those choices: entwinement or autonomy.

To be or not to be (entwined)

Entwinement is a term for combining your stuff with your polyam partner’s stuff so that your lives are twined together.

Living together is one way to be entwined. So it having kids together, sharing vehicles, and going on vacations together. Entwinement can range from minimal (We have agreed to have dinner together every Tuesday.) to intense (The classic mortgage/kids/retirement plans common to monogamous relationships.)

The more entwined you are, the less you are able to do what you want, when you want. If you have a standing dinner with one of your polyam partner’s on Tuesdays, then you can’t last minute decide you want to go to a concert Tuesday night.

Or, you know, you can, but that’s a hit thing to do to your partner who may have turned down other invites and is sitting at the restuarant staring at your last-minute-cancel text going “WTF?!”

Similarly, if you live with someone (no matter what your relationship), you can’t just decide to blow the rent money on a new suit.

Not if you want to have a place to live next month.

The flip side is, entwinement merges your resources with another person’s. Whether those resources are as simple as “time spent together” (for Tuesday night dinner’s) or as big as “money for a rent deposit so we can get a bigger place”, the more entwined you are, the more you have to draw on.

The opposite of entwinement is autonomy.

The more entwined you are, the less you are able to make decisions without consulting others. The more autonomous you are, the less resources you have outside your own.

How can you twine you money?

There are several ways you and your polyam partners can put your money together. You can have joint bills. You can have a joint budget. You can have joint bank accounts. You can have joint retirement plans. Lots of options here.

And these options can be independent of each other. You can have a shared car bill but not a joint budget or bank account. You can have a joint bank account but separate car bills. You can have a joint budget and not live together. You can have a joint retirement plan and no other money entwinement.

As with most things, it’s up to you how entwined you want to be.

Building on Past Decisions

Logically, folks who prioritize the individual will be in favor of more autonomy and less entwinement. Folks who priotize the group will be in favor of more entwinement and less autonomy. But it doesn’t need to work that way. If you think that you as an individual will benefit more from entwined finances, and your polyam partner(s) agree with you, twine away! If your group would do better with separate finances, then autonomy it is!

Prior decisions should inform each other–if you are prioritizing the individual then you should keep what is best for you as the individual in mind when deciding if entwinement or autonomy are best. But prior decisions don’t dictate future decisions.

And it should go without saying, but even if you want entwinement, if your partners don’t agree, it isn’t happening.

Legal Status of Polygamy/Bigamy: US N-Ne

Again, mostly just adding links to Jason Cherry’s much better summaries, just click the state names to go to the relevant summary. And fixing some typos and such. Edited Oct 20, 2018)

Dealing with craziness this week. Posts may be short or erratic. Happy new years all.

The following is not intended as legal advice.

Nebraska: Bigamy is a misdemeanor in Nebraska, and only applies to multiple legal marriages, so unlike some states given the appearance of being married to multiple people isn’t a problem as long as there is no more than 1 legal marriage. There are no laws against fornication or adultery. One source lists a law against cohabitation, though I couldn’t find it on a quick search of the Nebraska legislatures website.

Over all, polyam folk in Nebraska won’t have any problems as long as they don’t seek multiple legal marriages. If there is a cohabitation law, than polyam folk who are not legally married are better off not living together.

Nevada: Bigamy is a felony in Nevada, other wise the laws are pretty much the same as Nebraska’s above. Bigamy only applies to multiple legal marriages, and there are no laws against fornication, adultery or cohabitation.

Another good place to be polyam, just don’t try and get legally married twice and you are good.

New Hampshire: Bigamy is a felony in New Hampshire, but it applies only to the person with multiple marriages, and not to their spouses. Like Nebraska and Nevada it applies only to legal marriages. There is a law against adultery, but no law against fornication or cohabitation.

Overall, if no one is legally married, than a polyam family or network in New Hampshire shouldn’t have any problems. Once there is a legal marriage there is a possibility of charges being brought for adultery.

New Jersey: Bigamy is a misdemeanor in New Jersey, and applies to the appearance of multiple marriages, as well as actually being married more than once. There are laws regarding adultery, but they only apply in situations of divorce, basically putting an adulterer in a worst position in divorce and custody cases. There are no laws against fornication or cohabitation, and common law marriages are not recognized.

Anyone who isn’t legally married, and doesn’t present themselves as married should be alright in New Jersey. The adultery laws applying only to divorce cases means that polyam folk who are married should be alright as well, as long as they are careful to not act like they are married to more than one person.

New Mexico: Bigamy is a felony and applies to both the person with multiple marriages and the second person they marry. The law is only concerned with actual marriages, but not with the appearance of marriage. There are civil laws regarding adultery – specifically it can be used against a person in a divorce case, and the person the adulterer was in a relationship can be sued in civil court for ‘alienation of affection’ – basically ‘you ruined my marriage and now your going to pay me for it’. There are no laws against fornication or cohabitation.

Polyam folk who are not married or who do not seek multiple legal marriages generally will not have problems in New Mexico. If a legal marriage ends, than polyamory may lead to civil law suits and a bad divorce settlement.

New York: New York considers bigamy a felony and adultery a misdemeanor and both can land jail time. Oh – and presenting yourself as married to multiple people is just as bad as being married to multiple people. There is no law against fornication or cohabitation.

Best bet for polyam folk in New York is just don’t get married.

Polyamory and Money Stuff: How Prioritizing the Individual or the Group Affects Money

A few weeks ago, I spent some time riffing on polyamory and finance and I ended with the idea that both polyamory and money stuff require us to set priorities, and which priorities we set affects the decisions we make. For polyamory, I mentioned three choices we make:

  • to prioritize our need or desire for multiple relationships over society’s push for monogamy
  • to prioritize the individual or the group in our relationships
  • to prioritize entwinement or autonomy

This week we’re talking about the choice to prioritize the individual or the group.

Is your polyamory individual or group focused?

I wrote about prioritizing the individual vs prioritizing the group extensively in The Polyamorous Home. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, I’m using two quotes from the book to summarize:

The Individual

What does it mean to prioritize the individual?
It means each member of the family is responsible for their own well being. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask for what you need. But it does mean that no one has a responsibility to give you what you ask for. They are not responsible for you, you are.

The Group

Essentially, when you agree to put the community first you are creating a symbiotic relationship. You agree to give up some of your right to self-determination, and the group agrees to be responsible for and take care of you, as long as you abide by the rules and take care of the group. If this symbiosis is forgotten, then prioritizing the community quickly becomes dangerous to the individual.

Most of the current polyam leaders strongly favor and support prioritizing the individual. In general, I agree, but there are people for whom prioritizing the group is the right choice. For more on both (and how not to be an ass to your polyam partners no matter which you choose), pick up the Polyamorous Home.

How Does Group Vs Individual Affect Money?

The decision to prioritize the group vs the individual has a big impact on how you handle your money.

If you prioritize the individual, then decisions about money are based on what is best for YOU. If you prioritize the group, then decisions about money are going to be based on what is best for the GROUP.

This post is part of the Polyamory Finances blog series

See you next week!

Legal Status of Polygamy/Bigamy: US M

It was in writing this post that I first discovered Jason Cherry’s work. In addition to his state law reviews he has a number of other essays and reviews of US law re: non-monogamy. If you have any interest in legal status of non-monogamy or potential to change laws regarding non-monogamy, Jason’s blog is a good place to check out.

Once again I’m just updating for typos and grammar and putting in the direct link to Jason Cherry’s review for that state. Updated September 28, 2017

For those who celebrate, wishing a Merry Christmas.

As always, not intended as legal advice, just general info, consult a lawyer, etc etc.

For anyone interested in more detail on the laws and what not, Jason at Non-Monogamous Discourse has been much more thorough than I have in digging out exactly what the relevant laws are and say. He does tend to be a bit heavy on the legalese, which includes citations of relevant laws so anyone interested can look them up for themselves.

Maine:

Jason Cherry’s review

If I am reading the legalese right, only the person with two spouses is guilty of bigamy under Maine’s law, his or her second spouse is not criminalized, which is different from most states. Bigamy is a misdemeanor in Maine. The state has laws against adultery, but none against fornication or co-habitation and does not recognize common-law marriage. The adultery law only comes into play if your legal spouse brings charges, or during a divorce, otherwise it isn’t an issue.

Over all, Maine is one of the better states for polyamory, just make sure your spouse (if you have one) is on board, and you are good.

Maryland:

Jason Cherry’s review

Bigamy is a felony in Maryland, another one that seems to only charge the person who marries twice. The statute (again, if I am reading the legalese right) states that a second marriage ceremony is grounds for bigamy charge, so even if you aren’t legally married to two people, if you have a ceremony of some sort you will be in violation. Also like Maine, there is a law against adultery, but not fornication or co-habitation, and no common-law marriages. Adultery gets a $10 fine and grounds for divorce.

I think it is safe to say that as long as you don’t have ceremonies celebrating your relationships in Maryland, you can do pretty much whatever. Personally, I’d consider a $10 fine and grounds for divorce on adultery a non-issue. If someone wants to divorce me they can whether or not there has been adultery, and $10 is not that big a deal for most people.

Massachusetts:

Jason Cherry’s review

Another felony state that only charges the person with two spouses, except that Mass also considers it bigamy if you cohabit with the second partner, whether or not there is a marriage or any claim of the second partner as a spouse. Unfortunately, Massachusetts fits its uptight, puritanical stereotype with laws against fornication, adultery and ‘lewd and lascivious  behavior’ any or all of which may be used against polyam folk.

The laws aside, there have been several poly family in Massachusetts who have gone public and spoken with the media about their lifestyle, and to the best of my knowledge not have any legal consequences. So while technically polyam living in Massachusetts are in a bad place, in actuality you may be alright, even if you don’t fly completely under the radar.

Michigan:

Jason Cherry’s review

Michigan is something of an oddball with a bunch of not-quite related laws that add up to a mess I wouldn’t want to begin to decipher. For instance, on bigamy – it is illegal to contract a second marriage, next section of the law says that a second marriage is automatically void; yet this marriage that is voided even as it happens is still a felony. Oh – and an interesting twist that doesn’t apply to polyam families but shows someone in Michigan used their brain once upon a time: if a person enters into a second marriage believing their first marriage was over (due to divorce, death, etc) and it turns out that the first marriage hadn’t ended, than the children of the second marriage are legitimate, even though legally the marriage never existed.

In addition to bigamy laws there are laws against fornication, adultery and cohabitation, and from what Jason dug up an interesting law against teaching people about polygamy. Makes me wonder how Sunday Schools in Michigan address all of Solomon’s wives. The law against adultery only comes into play if the adulterer’s spouse objects.

Over all, Michigan is a good state to try and keep under the radar. There doesn’t seem to be any way to legally pursue a polyamorous relationship in the state. However many of the laws against it are the sort that have been on the books for ages and are rarely used any more. (Otherwise half of the college students in Michigan would be on first name basis with the judge for fornication charges.)

Minnesota:

Jason Cherry’s review

Bigamy is a felony in Minnesota, and includes an odd cohabitation clause. Basically it is illegal to cohabit with a spouse you have married bigamously in another state. I would assume this is because they can’t prosecute you for what you do outside the state’s borders (ie the marriage). There is a law against adultery, though it only comes into play if the spouse objects. The fornication law is an odd ball – it is illegal for man to have sex with an unmarried woman. So as long as the woman is married, it isn’t fornication. Of course, then it is adultery. While I didn’t find it my review of laws that apply to polygamy/bigamy, I expect there was a sodomy law at some point that covered sex between people of the same gender.

Given that adultery only comes into play if the spouse objects, a married woman is in the best situation as far as polyamory is concerned in Minnesota – as long as her spouse is ok with it she shouldn’t be able to be charged with anything. Similarly a person who is involved with a married woman is ok, and two married couples or similar set ups should get by fine as long as they don’t live together (that cohabitation clause technically only applies to bigamy from out of state, but no reason to take chances). As soon as there is an unmarried woman, a spouse who objects, or a second marriage, the law will theoretically take issue.

Mississippi:

Jason Cherry’s review

Bigamy is a felony in Mississippi. There is also a law against adultery, which also covers fornication between people who aren’t married (how that fits under adultery I doubt I’ll ever understand). There is a caveat that the adultery law can only come into play is it is habitual, so a one night stand won’t get anyone in trouble but a regular partner might. Like Michigan there is a law against teaching polygamy, and a law against having children outside of marriage.

The no teaching polygamy technically shouldn’t apply to polyamory, but there is no guarantee a judge will see it that way. Overall, Mississippi is very inhospitable to polyam folk, though in theory most cops have better things to do with their time than chase down fornicators and adulterers. (Of course in theory most cops have better things to do with their time than harass people for walking while black. It will be easier for some folks–white, financially well off, hetero, etc, to avoid legal trouble.)

Missouri:

Jason Cherry’s review

In Missouri it is bigamy whether you actually get married to a second person, or simply act like you are married to a second person. On the other hand, bigamy is a misdemeanor, so it isn’t as big a deal as it might be. I have one source saying there is a law against adultery but it is only a crime if the spouse objects, another source says there is no law against adultery. In general I consider the source saying there is no law more reliable, but better safe. There is no fornication law, and no mention anywhere of a law against cohabitation.

Missouri is a decent state for polyam folk, over all. If no one in the polyam network/relationship/whatnot is married you are good to go. If someone is married make sure that any spouses are happy with the set up and that the legally married folks are in no way presenting the appearance of being married to another person and it should be good.

Montana:

Jason Cherry’s review

Another state where bigamy is a misdemeanor. Also no fornication or adultery laws, though one source mentions a law against cohabitation. Like Missouri acting like you are married (purporting is the technical term) can get you in trouble over the bigamy law. Purporting can include calling a partner husband/wife/spouse, claiming to be married to them, filing taxes together, etc.

Generally decent spot to be polyamorous. Living in separate residences, or living just with a legally married spouse avoids any cohabitation law that may exist, and then just make sure to keep from presenting as married to more than 1 person and everything is good.

Ok, there are a lot of M states here, it’s late and I’m exhausted. So stopping here for the night. Be well all.

Legal Status of Polygamy/Bigamy: US H-L

As noted last week, instead of trying to update this series myself, I’m linking each state to Jason Cherry’s much more thorough and cited reviews. Some changes for grammar/typos/etc. Updated 9/28/17

As usual, this is for general info purposes and is not intended a legal advice.

Hawaii:

Jason Cherry’s review

Okay, Hawaii is a damn good place to be polyamorous. It has no laws against fornication, adultery or cohabitation. There is also no specific law on the book against bigamy.

The law does specify that a marriage license will only be granted to a person who is not already married, so getting legally married to a second person would require lying when filling out a government form. I’m not sure what the technical offense would be, but my sources say it will earn you 30 days in jail. However, as long as you don’t apply for a marriage license under false pretenses and don’t get legally married to a second person, you can live together, have a religious wedding ceremony, have sex with whoever, and generally have your relationship in any configuration, living arrangement, or polyamorous snuggle any way you like.

Idaho:

Jason Cherry’s review

Bigamy is punishable by a fine of at least $2000 and/or jail time that may be up to 3 years. Adultery is also against the law, though fornication is not. Idaho used to recognize common law marriages, it now recognizes common law marriages formed before 1996 but will not recognize new ones. As far as I can find it does not have laws against cohabitation.

In Idaho you are okay to be polyam as long as you don’t get married. Throw marriage in the mix with polyam and you are in violation of the adultery statute (which like many such is almost never used) or the bigamy statute, which has flexible requirements for proving that a second marriage took place: “Upon a trial for bigamy, it is not necessary to prove either of the marriages by the register, certificate, or other record evidence thereof, but the same may be proved by such evidence as is admissible to prove a marriage in other cases” – whatever that means.

Illinois:

Jason Cherry’s review

Adultery and fornication are both illegal in Illinois, but only if they are ‘open and notorious’. Illinois does not have a specific law against cohabitation, but only because if you cohabit while married you are guilty of bigamy whether or not there was ever a second ceremony. Illinois considers bigamy to be a felony.

Given the rarity of fornication prosecutions, you are probably alright in Illinois if you live together and are not married to anyone. If you are married and are polyamorous but only live with your marriage partner you will probably be alright as long as everyone is happy with the arrangement – while they can prosecute for adultery whether or not the spouse was in agreement with the relationship it probably won’t be an issue unless you end up in divorce court. Being married with one polyam partner and living with a second polyam partner opens you up to bigamy charges. As said regarding other states, you can probably fly under the radar and be alright but if you come to official notice there may be problems.

Indiana:

Jason Cherry’s review

One of the simplest bigamy laws so far, Indiana sums it all up in two sentences. If you are married, and marry again you are guilty of bigamy. Unless your marriage was legally over due to death or divorce. Bigamy is a felony in Indiana. Indiana has no law against fornication or cohabitation, and does not recognize common law marriage. It does have laws against adultery but they only come into play if your spouse charges you with adultery.

Basically as long you don’t try to legally marry two people, and everyone is happy with the arrangement, you can do polyamory anyway you like in Indiana.

Iowa:

Jason Cherry’s review

Iowa classes bigamy as a ‘serious misdemeanor’ which comes into play if a person marries more than one person. Since Iowa recognizes common law marriage, this can get complicated. If you live together, imply and/or intend that you are married, and present yourselves as married (refer to each other as husband and wife [or husband and husband, etc] – the gold standard for ‘presenting yourselves as married’ is filing joint tax returns.) you can be in a common law marriage, which may end up with a bigamy charge if you are already married, under common law or otherwise, to someone else. Iowa has laws against adultery, but they are not currently enforced and will only be an issue in the case of a divorce. There are no laws against fornication.

So, as long as you do not present yourselves as married, and are not in danger of ending up in divorce court, you can live together, live separately, opening be in relations with and generally have lots of fun with your polyam partners. Just be very careful about not ending up in a common law marriage if you are already married.

(As a side note, the legalization of gay marriage in Iowa opens some problems regarding common law marriage, as some gay and lesbian couples may be legally married under common law without realizing it.)

Kansas:

Jason Cherry’s review

Bigamy is a felony in Kansas, which comes into play when a person marries a second person. Period, no curlicues. Common law marriage is recognized in Kansas. You cannot end up in a common law marriage if you are already married, regardless of living together, intent, presenting yourself as married or anything else, so there is no chance of unintentionally ending up in a bigamous relationship because you live with two polyam partners or someone you are not married to. Kansas also has laws against adultery that only come into play in a divorce. There are no laws against cohabitation or fornication.

Generally, polyamory will not cause problems in Kansas as long as any legally married spouse is happy with the arrangements and you aren’t trying to get two legal marriages.

Kentucky:

Jason Cherry’s review

If you marry or claim to be married to a second person in Kentucky you are guilty of bigamy. Also, if you have married someone in another state and live with someone else in Kentucky you are guilty of bigamy whether you claim to be married to the second person or not. Kentucky does have laws against adultery, but no laws against fornication or cohabitation, and it does not recognize common law marriages.

Overall, if you are not married in Kentucky you can do pretty much anything you want, relationship-wise. If you are married as long as you don’t claim to be married to two people and your legally married spouse is happy with the situation you are good. The kink in the works: if you and your spouse married outside of Kentucky, you cannot live with another polyamorous partner without violating the anti-bigamy law.

Louisiana:

Jason Cherry’s review

The act of marrying a second spouse in Louisiana, or living with a second spouse you married elsewhere, both constitute bigamy and are illegal. Adultery is illegal but can only get you in trouble if your spouse objects. Fornication and cohabitation are perfectly legal.

So, don’t get married and you are good however, if you are married and your spouse is okay with polyamory and/or is also polyamorous, you are good however, if you to get legally married twice or you spouse does not agree with poly, or changes their mind at a later date, you may have problems.

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