Polyamory as a Sexual Orientation

55 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2010 Last revised: 29 Aug 2011

See all articles by Ann E. Tweedy

Ann E. Tweedy

University of South Dakota School of Law

Date Written: June 29, 2010


This Article examines, from a theoretical standpoint, the possibility of expanding the definition of “sexual orientation” in employment discrimination statutes to include other disfavored sexual preferences, specifically polyamory. First, it examines the current, very narrow definition of sexual orientation, which is limited to orientations that are based on the sex of those to whom one is attracted, and explores some of the conceptual and functional problems with the current definition. Next the Article looks at the possibility of adding polyamory to current statutory definitions of sexual orientation, examining whether polyamory is a sufficiently embedded identity to be considered a sexual orientation and the degree of discrimination that polyamorists face. After concluding that such an expansion would be reasonable, the Article briefly outlines some issues for further investigation, including potential policy implications and the conflicting evidence as to whether polyamorists want specific legal protections.

Keywords: Sexual Orientation, Polyamory, Sexuality, Anti-Discrimination Law, Employment Discrimination, Identity, Queer Theory, Fluidity, Bisexuality, Lesbianism, Homosexuality, Equal Protection, Bill of Rights, Liberty, Marriage, Polygamy, Monogamy, Non-monogamy, Relationships, Feminism, Women and the Law

JEL Classification: J70, J71, J78, J79

Suggested Citation

Tweedy, Ann E., Polyamory as a Sexual Orientation (June 29, 2010). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 79, p. 1461, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1632653

Ann E. Tweedy (Contact Author)

University of South Dakota School of Law ( email )

414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD SD 57069
United States
57069 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.usd.edu/faculty-and-staff/Ann-Tweedy

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