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It's these dynamics that have made polyamory, as longtime poly advocate Anita Wagner puts it, "the political football in the culture war as it relates to same-sex marriage."Polys themselves are not visibly crusading for their civil rights.
But there is one policy issue rousing concern: legal precedents concerning their ability to parent.
In the process, they rearrange themselves: Matt's hand touches Vera's leg. The child, seemingly unconcerned, puts his arms around his mother and digs into his meal.
Terisa and Matt and Vera and Larry—along with Scott, who's also at this dinner—are not swingers, per se; they aren't pursuing casual sex.
Custody battles among poly parents are not uncommon; the most public of them was a 1999 case in which a 22-year-old Tennessee woman lost rights to parent her daughter after outing herself on an MTV documentary.
Anecdotally, research shows that children can do well in poly families—as long as they're in a stable home with loving parents, says Elisabeth Sheff, a sociologist at Georgia State University, who is conducting the first large-scale study of children of poly parents, which has been ongoing for a decade.
Terisa, 41, is at the center of this particular polyamorous cluster.Keep up with this story and more It's enough to make any monogamist's head spin. Researchers are just beginning to study the phenomenon, but the few who do estimate that openly polyamorous families in the United States number more than half a million, with thriving contingents in nearly every major city.Over the past year, books like Open, by journalist Jenny Block; Opening Up, by sex columnist Tristan Taormino; and an updated version of The Ethical Slut—widely considered the modern "poly" Bible—have helped publicize the concept."This group is really rising up from the underground, emboldened by the success of the gay-marriage movement," says Glenn Stanton, the director of family studies for Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian group."And while there's part of me that says, 'Oh, my goodness, I don't think I could see them make grounds,' there's another part of me that says, 'Well, just watch them.' "Conservatives are not alone in watching warily.