New York Judge Grants Protection to Polyamorous Relationships

New York Judge Grants Protection to Polyamorous Relationships

A New York City civil court judge ruled earlier this week that polyamorous relationships are entitled to the same sort of legal protection given to two-person relationships. The judge’s opinion gives a push for legal polygamy, and critics note that predictions were correct that legalizing gay marriage would lead to an effort toward legalized polygamy.

The case, West 49th St., LLC v. O’Neill, involved three individuals: Scott Anderson and Markyus O’Neill, who lived together in a New York City apartment owned by West 49th St., LLC. Anderson held the lease but was married to another man, Robert Romano, who lived at another address. 

After Anderson died, West 49th St., LLC argued that O’Neill had no right to renew the lease because he was not married to Anderson. O’Neill disagreed, arguing that he was a “non-traditional family member.”

Judge Karen May Bacdayan sided with O’Neill, writing, “The existence of a triad should not automatically dismiss respondent’s claim to noneviction protections.” 

“The time has arrived,” she wrote, for polyamorous relationships to have legal rights. The problem with previous same-sex rulings is that “they recognize only two-person relationships,” she said. 

“Before gay marriage was legalized in any state, Braschi v. Stahl Assocs. Co., 74 NY2d 201 (1989) was decided,” the judge said. “The New York State Court of Appeals became the first American appellate court to recognize that a nontraditional, two-person, same-sex, committed family-like relationship is entitled to legal recognition, and that the nontraditional family member is entitled to receive noneviction protections. 

“What was ‘normal’ or ‘nontraditional’ in 1989 is not a barometer for what is normal or nontraditional now,” Bacdayan wrote in her decision. “Indeed, the definition of ‘family’ has morphed considerably since 1989. Specifically, many articles have been written about multi-person relationships in recent years, revealing a preference that for some has long been known.”

Bacdayan now says it may be time to move forward because the previous decision was “rooted in traditional ideology.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Bacdayan’s decision puts America on a “slippery slope.”

“The media laughed off the conservative movement’s concerns about the slippery slope when Democrats pushed to sexualize the military 20 years ago,” he wrote in The Washington Stand. “Now, almost two decades later, with American parents in the fight of their lives over transgenderism and judges paving the way for ‘plural marriage,’ it, unfortunately, proves we were right.”  

“The LGBT’s fight was never about marriage—it was about every social norm,” he added. 

Perkins points out that in 2003 the late Justice Antonin Scalia warned of a day when state laws “based on moral choices” against “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution … adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity” would all fall.

A recent Gallup poll shows that 23% of Americans now think polygamy is “morally acceptable.”

Katy Faust, founder of Them Before Us, contends the breakdown of traditional marriage and family is an attack on children.

“Every novel iteration of modern family infringes on the rights and well-being of children in a novel way,” she told The Washington Stand.

“Same-sex marriage denied children a relationship with their mother or father. Polyamory insists children share living spaces with an unrelated and often rotating, cast of adults. Far from simply having ‘more adults to love them,’ this household structure increases a child’s risk of abuse and neglect and starves them of the stability needed for a thriving life,” she said. 

Perkins warns that Democrats are pushing a law of “tolerance” that only spells danger for society. 

“If ‘love’ and ‘consent’ are all that define a relationship, then proponents of incest, pedophilia, and group marriage can follow the LGBT playbook all the way to validity,” he wrote.

Tatyana Olina/Alamy Stock Photo Illustration

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