“From Boston to Berkeley Unitarian churches have opened another front in the liberal crusade to expand the definition of marriage and family in America.It’s the new polygamy,” writes Don Lattin in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 20).
At the forefront of the movement is the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness, which advocates the “philosophy and practice of loving or relating intimately to more than one other person at a time with honesty and integrity,” says Sally Amsbury, an official of the group. A spokesman for the 183,000-member Association of Unitarian Universalists, says the views of polyamorists are not necessarily endorsed by the denomination’s board of trustees.
Polyamorists themselves are divided over whether to push for formal recognition from the denomination and create their own ceremonies for partnerships, or to lobby for some of the same rights granted to heterosexual couples. “We’re where the gay rights movement was 30 years ago,” Amsbury said.
Some polyamorists are concerned that their cause will be used by opponents of same-sex marriage. Rebecca Parker, the president of Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, says many Christians find polygamy even more sinful than homosexuality. Many of the students and faculty at Starr King see the polyamory movement as a threat to gay and lesbian couples. “In the Protestant denomination, the movement to accept same-sex couples was built on the idea that they, too, can have lifelong monogamous relationships,” Parker said.
Few polyamorous Unitarian Universalist ministers are “out of the closet,” since they fear it will threaten their chance of finding or keeping a job with a congregation. Jim Zacarias, interim minister at the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, recently came out to his congregation as bisexual. “Some people in polyamory are bi, and some are homosexual, some are heterosexual. We are serving their needs,” said Barb Greve, a transgender person who is a program associate with the Association of Unitarian Universalists’ Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns in Boston.