We always knew Arlington, Massachusetts would do something special eventually.
All the years that my family lived there, poor Arlington, nestled anonymously between Lexington and Cambridge, a hop and a skip from Concord, searched in vain for some way to be famous like the cities and towns around it. Sure, it was (and is) the largest municipality to have a town government, but really, so what? Paul Revere didn’t even ride through Arlington (that was William Dawes) which was then called Menotomy.
In the run-up Revolutionary War, our little town—-heck, we couldn’t even say that, because it was a BIG town, though irrelevant…was the site of a shooting skirmish while the British marched through to Lexington and Concord. Arlington’s big event was the massacre of some Minute Men while they hid in the closet in the Jason Russell House, the town’s one historical spot of note. You could see the bullet holes! Cool! Our classes visited the place every damn year.
For a while, the town tried to get recognition for being “the birthplace of Uncle Sam,” because, the legend went, the character originated with Samuel Wilson, a meat-packer who lived in Troy, New York and supplied rations for American soldiers during the War of 1812. They joked about the “U.S.” he stamped on the meat as standing for “Uncle Sam,” and then Thomas Nast drew the tall, bearded guy in the striped pants and hat, and the rest is history, sort of. Because Wilson was born in Arlington before ending up in Troy, the town spent money to commission a statue of old Sam, have it cast and then erected. Pretty thin. Another whiff for Arlington: No mobs even thought that statue was worth tearing down.
But now! Nobody’s laughing any more, no sir. Arlington’s Town Meeting members—my dad was a Town Meeting member for years—just made it the first place on the U.S. map to legally recognize polyamorous partnerships!
A bylaw had an amendment introduced by Precinct 3 Town Meeting member Amos Meeks, who said he has TWO longtime domestic partners. It allows allows domestic partnerships of “two or more” people—Three! Forty-one!—and was adopted by a vote of 192-37. The bylaw it was latched to passed by a vote of 221-11.
Now the fun new law will be sent sent to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who will determine if the bylaw conflicts with state law. (Fat chance! You can probably marry a squirrel in Massachusetts.)
Be proud, fellow Arlingtonians! Be proud. Maybe they can add a couple of domestic partners to that statue—three to be safe. Let’s see: there needs to be at least one male in the group (other than Sam), an African-American, a Latinx, and an Asian-American. One has to be in a wheelchair, and one needs to be obviously trans. Yeah, you can do all that in a group of four.
I just wish my parents had lived to see it.