My Home Town Finally Makes Good!

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.


15 thoughts on “My Home Town Finally Makes Good!

  1. All sarcasm aside…this is another classic example of the progressive mania for engaging in vast, irresponsible social experiments to overthrow structures and institutions that have proven their worth for eons. So because one freak—yes, having two “spouses” is freakish—wants to assuage his conscience or ego or something, a Greater Boston town puts its seal of approval on an inherently unstable family template with no data or experience whatsoever. What happens to kid in families with three daddies, five mommies, and a whatsis? What the law recognizes as valid, society encourages. How many people will be screwed up to teach the lesson that , “Gee, there was a good reason why Western civilization didn’t encourage this mess”?

  2. I don’t understand what is accomplished by the new law “allowing” these domestic partnerships. If they were not previously “allowed,” what were the consequences? Shunning? Tarring, feathering, and being ridden out of town on a rail? Branding with a scarlet “P”? Pressing? Burning at the stake? (Hey, it IS Massachusetts.)

  3. I don’t care if they want to live with two spouses (which is probably by itself a sign of mental instability), but there is absolutely no point, and lots of complications, in recognizing it in law.

    Can’t they just sign a couple of POAs and be done with it?

  4. I’m gonna be MAYBE a bit contrarian here but in the interests of freedom of association I think this is a good idea and I would support it.

    1) Basically, I’m of the opinion that any two (or more) people should be able to enter into any sort of agreement they like so long as it’s voluntary. This includes agreements that carry all of the legal aspects of a marriage. Call it whatever you like, and I guess Arlington went with Domestic Partnerships.

    2) I don’t like the idea of any government changing the definition of a word like “marriage” to suit political motives and goals. The concept has been around for at least thousands of years, and I dispute that the government has the authority to change the language by fiat. (By the way, the same goes for the word “Vaccine”, CDC!)

    I’ve written here before that I would much prefer that government get completely out of the marriage license business and issue legal contracts that carry all the same terms as a marriage (e.g. inheritance, medical proxy, etc.) instead. In this way, anyone can have the legal advantages, and “marriage” would be understood to be one specific version of a Domestic Partnership–the one entered into by one man and one woman. No one’s religion has to be contradicted and no one is prohibited from forming a similar family unit under the law.

    This could be a step in that direction, but time will tell.


    P.S. I still have not forgotten about how, on this same topic, TGT called me a bigot for saying something that I did not actually say–and he, of all people, should have known better. This is why I do NOT miss him and probably never will. There was a time when he could employ logic with the best of them, but he could also be unbelievably (willfully?) obtuse about understanding someone else’s point when it differed from his own. Brevity, the soul of wit, seemed to forever be his enemy.

    • I’ve written here before that I would much prefer that government get completely out of the marriage license business and issue legal contracts that carry all the same terms as a marriage (e.g. inheritance, medical proxy, etc.)

      But of what advantage is this to all but the minutest of minority of people entering irregular relationships in good faith? How many partial spouses have to be denied access to their significant other at their death bed because they filed a right of inheritance, but not a medical proxy? Why should anyone have to be concerned they they haven’t filled out the correct combination of “contracts”, when today a single license confers all of these rights explicitly?

      • Unless I’m misunderstanding YOU, I think you’ve misunderstood me. My point is that if the State issues a simple SINGLE contract that does all of the things a marriage does, then there’s no need for multiple separate legal actions like you describe–if I understand what you’re asking.

        Rather than CREATE the problem you’re describing, it would be the SOLUTION to the problem you’re describing.

        I’m guessing that the misunderstanding is in my use of the plural “contracts” in the section you quoted. My intended meaning is that the State would issue this type of contract to everyone instead of marriage (meaning: lots of different people) rather than that the State would issue multiple different types of contracts to a given set of “spouses”. If I’m incorrect about this, feel free to tell me.


  5. Arlington’s closest thing to a legitimate claim to fame before this is that it is where Cyrus Dallin (1861-1944), the celebrated Utah-born sculptor, educator, and Indigenous rights activist lived and worked for over 40 years. His many public sculptures commemorating historical events, Indigenous peoples,and Anglo-American figures can be seen in cities and towns across America, including in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Syracuse, and Kansas City. Arlington has an elementary school named after him, and “Native Hunter,” a sculpture in bronze depicting a Menotomy Indian dipping his hand into a brook (the work includes flowing water) was my favorite place in the town to just sit, listen to the water, and think.

  6. Born in Boston, starting out in Watertown, we thought Arlington was so conservative, a ‘dry town’ w/o liquer stores.
    I guess they want to break free and be a trendsetter. Family law will have a heyday when poly families separate in strife and acrimony.
    Agh, Arlington, no other claim to fame?

  7. I have been living in the Boston area now for 7 years, currently in Medford. I know Arlington best for the beginning of the Minuteman Bike Rail Trail. That Uncle Sam statue is along the trail, in the busy downtown part. I find it funny, how I went to college in Troy, NY, so I also know the Uncle Sam statue there as well. Though, I think Troy, NY’s claim to fame would be Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, my alma mater.

    • Was thinking of Troy when I read this, Aleksei. I visited a high school buddy who’d enrolled at RPI (and would graduate from there) during our freshman or sophomore year in college, 1969 or 1970, depending. My God, Troy was horrid. It was as if it had been bombed by the Germans during the war and never rebuilt. The RPI campus sat in the middle of what appeared to have been a large target area. It was by far the most devastated upstate industrial town going. Made towns along the Mohawk Valley and the Erie Canal look like boom towns. Mrs. OB’s family lived in Arlington when she was born. A neighbor and friend here in Arizona lived on the same street in Arlington, Rangely Road. Small world stuff.

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