Leave Them Sister-Wives Alone!

Now that Big Love is over with, I’ve started watching Sister-Wives on The Learning Channel. This is a show about a polygamous family: One husband, four wives, 16 kids. It’s actually very interesting and I’ve been enjoying the show.

A recent plot line is that the police in Lehi (or is it Nephi?) have been investigating them and looking to charge them for their polygamy, which has put a lot of pressure on the family. I saw a teaser for an upcoming episode that suggests the family is toying with moving outside of Utah to avoid that sort of problem.

And as I watched that I couldn’t help but wonder, why is polygamy a legal problem in this day and age? I understand why it was originally, back in the Victorian-era 19th century, how it was an affront to the morals of society. But this is 2011, and society gave up that high ground long ago. Even if they’re still on the books, adultery statutes aren’t enforced, and polygamy is tantamount to adultery (there is only one legal marriage; the other wives are basically unmarried lovers in the eyes of the state, even if they consider themselves married for religious purposes). We don’t haul people who live together off to jail anymore. So why is polygamy still a crime?

The Attorney General of the State of Utah has taken a policy position not to enforce polygamy itself as a crime, but rather to concentrate on substantive abuses that sometimes accompany polygamy, especially in its FLDS guise (child abuse, sexual abuse, welfare fraud, tax fraud, etc.). This seems to me the way to go.

Prosecuting polygamists for nothing more than living in a polyamorous relationship is ridiculous and high hypocrisy in this day and age. It is time to decriminalize polygamy.

Comments

  1. Prosecuting polygamists for nothing more than living in a polyamorous relationship is ridiculous and high hypocrisy in this day and age. It is time to decriminalize polygamy.

    Amen, preach it brother . . .

  2. I used the think that the Church didn’t want to ever see polygamy legalized as it would force them to deal with the Manifesto and other statements from Church leaders that the only reason that polygamy–God’s celestial law–ended was because it was illegal.

    However, seeing that the Church is able to turn a blind-eye and cognitive forgetfulness to much of its past, I don’t think that is the case anymore–though I am absolutely certain that the Church will never endorse polygamy again

  3. Except that it’s so difficult to assist women who are trying to escape from the polygamous lifestyle. The law is a necessary fiction so law enforcement can assist those who need help for related reasons.

    You know, like in towns where the Sheriff and other secular authorities are part of the polygamous culture, and so the cars are not registered with the state, so that the women can’t get in the cars and drive out of town, where the vehicle would be confiscated for lack of registration.

    And, to break the cycle where underaged or barely aged women are persuaded to enter into polygamous relationships, having been culturally isolated from other options.

  4. Ironically, in countries where polygamy is legal, those in polygamous relationships cannot be baptized into the LDS Church. They can, however, become members of the Community of Christ.

  5. A man can sleep with more than one woman and that’s their business, but if he marries more than one, that’s disgusting.

  6. My family law class discussed polygamy a couple of months ago, immediately following a discussion of homosexual marriage. It’s a large class, and my participation was minimal, but it was interesting to see how inconsistent other students were. Every argument they made for supporting homosexual marriage could be used for polygamy, and every argument they made against polygamy could be used against homosexual marriage.
    Eventually, a student who admitted to watching Sister-Wives pointed this double-standard out.

    Rational thought can’t win out over prejudice, not even in a room full of law students. The only way for polygamists to overcome prejudice is to hold themselves out to the world like the family in Sister-Wives, or to integrate themselves more fully into normal communities. It’s an unfortunate reality.

  7. madhousewife (5),

    I like it. This way, as long as I maintain that men sleeping with multiple women is disgusting, I can oppose polygamy. Done AND done!

  8. MikeInWeHo says:

    I disagree with the assertion that “the law is a necessary fiction” to assist women trapped in polygamous sects. Like the (now long-gone) sodomy laws of yore, unenforced laws are intrinsically problematic. They are subject to inconsistent enforcement and terrible, terrible abuses.

    It sickens me to think that the Brown family might be driven out of Utah as a result of this TV series. How utterly ironic, when you think about it.

  9. What is the difference between the show Sister-Wives and Hugh Hefner’s show where he lived in the same house with multiple girlfriends. At the time of Hugh’s show he was separated, but legally married and living next door to the mother of two of his children, while cohabitating with three girlfriends in the Playboy mansion.

  10. There is a big difference between decriminalizing and legalizing. We can do the first without doing the second. i.e. Bigamy can continue to be a crime.

  11. Kevin, is this your way of outing yourself? ;)

    Or are you just a serial polygamist anytime there is a show on television about it?

  12. john willis says:

    Justice Christine Durham of the Utah Supreme Court agrees with you. See her dissent in State V. Holm 137 P.3d 726 (Utah,2006)

    Just goes to show you that great legal minds all think alike.

  13. Kevin–I’m so with you. My wife and I have enjoyed watching Sister Wives and I feel the same as you.

  14. Prosecuting polygamists for nothing more than living in a polyamorous relationship is ridiculous and high hypocrisy in this day and age. It is time to decriminalize polygamy.

    I agree with you, but given Utah’s past, they would have to be the very very last to decriminalize for reputations sake. I’m not applying any morality to this as I say it, just saying thats the way it is.

    It sickens me to think that the Brown family might be driven out of Utah as a result of this TV series. How utterly ironic, when you think about it.

    Possibly hypocritical, but I don’t know about ironic. In reality it makes complete sense when it is understood just how far the church (and thereby most of Utah as a consequence) wants to distance itself from it’s polygamous reputation and past.

  15. Kristine N says:

    Mike–I believe Tom Green was also prosecuted after going on several national talk shows to publicize and de-sensationalize the polygamist lifestyle. He turned out to not be the best spokesman (since his wives were abusing the welfare system), which was unfortunate, but I remember when his trial started if anyone would have cared if he’d just kept his mouth shut.

    Although I haven’t seen Sister-Wives, I agree it would be a shame if they were forced to leave Utah because of the show. It seems problematic that polygamy more or less allowed–as long as you don’t publicize the fact that you’re practicing.

  16. Tim (6), I am also a law student whose class recently treated polygamy, and in my seminar-sized class no one supported the continued criminalization of polygamy in light of Lawrence v. Texas (though state recognition of plural marriages was a much stickier subject due to the unique issues that would arise in divorce, etc.). The majority opinion in State v. Holm uses the absurd logic that polygamy can be criminalized while same-sex relations cannot because marriage is a public action – even when it is not a real marriage! By the court’s logic, you can legally live with numerous partners as long as you don’t participate in a wedding ceremony that you readily admit has no legal authority.

    Johnna (3), I respectfully disagree. Currently polygamous families have to live under the radar and don’t want to draw any attention to their lifestyles, resulting in a hesitancy to get the law’s help in cases of incest, underage marriage, etc. If polygamists could contact authorities about problems in their families and communities without fearing that they were simultaneously divulging a criminal act of their own, they would be much more cooperative in preventing serious crimes.

  17. Re: 6

    Tim, you say

    Every argument they made for supporting homosexual marriage could be used for polygamy, and every argument they made against polygamy could be used against homosexual marriage.

    I question the rigor of that discussion. Polygamous marriage and homosexual marriage simply do not work the same in terms of the law.

    Here is a link containing an argument which briefly outlines the reasons for why there is a significant legal difference between these two types of marriage. This position sure seems to disrupt the slippery slope argument sometimes made by gay marriage opponents that gay marriages would naturally lead to polygamous marriages.

    http://volokh.com/posts/1156371992.shtml

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Craig M., I agree. Also, I don’t think polygamists are angling for legalization (a la gay marriage), just decriminalization.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Rameumpton, you nailed it, I’m a serial polygamist show viewer. I only stared watching Sister-Wives in the vacuum that came from the cessation of Big Love. Not sure why, that’s just the way it worked out.

    As Sistas in Zion, exactly. The existence of a marraige ceremony–that the state doesn’t recognize–makes one situation criminal and the other fine? Seems ludicrous to me.

  20. 17: That entire argument revolves around the question of whether sister-wives are married to each other. I admit I don’t know any polygamists, but I’m pretty sure that most sister-wives don’t consider themselves married to one another, but just to their husband. I admit the issues raised could become thornier if we’re talking about group marriage–but we’re not. So it’s not much of an argument.

  21. I should add that even if we are talking about group marriages (as opposed to polygamous marriages), just because things get thorny do not mean we should automatically disallow the marriages. It seems to me marriage is more of a fundamental right, and something that the law should work its way around rather than prohibit. Would there be issues that we would need to iron out? Certainly. So what?

  22. James,

    One of the comments on that link you provide makes a great point:

    “…”marriage,” as a cultural artifact gets defined by public sentiment, and public sentiment is under no obligation at all to be rational or fair. Gays and lesbians who would like to get marriage typically come from “our” culture. They’re our siblings, our cousins, etc. They are sympathetic.

    Polygamists are not.

    When polygamists are prevented from marrying and get themselves chucked in jail for bigamy, they’re definitely the “other” to the American cultural norm. Maybe they’re Muslims, maybe they’re members of some Mormon sect, or maybe they’re just a bunch of people who wanted to get married to each other. But we still see them as deviant, in a way that we don’t see gays/lesbians. And until we stop seeing them as deviant, we won’t acknowledge their marriages.

    They can file all the court cases they like, but judges know perfectly well how to read around prior caselaw, if they don’t like the result it will bring. That’s what lawyers do, after all. While polygamy continues to be seen as icky by the public at large at pretty much every level, judges are highly unlikely to reach the result polygamy advocates want.

    And when polygamy ceases to be seen as icky, and comes to be seen as sympathetic (as I am sure it will) I don’t think these arguments about practicality and whatnot will amount to anything at all. Arguments about practicality and how to work out the technical details just are not terribly persuasive, against an argument that an injustice (replete with echoes of Western bigotry) awaits undoing.”

    What I’ve been trying to say, but said more clearly.

  23. I’m not sure what prosecuting polygamists is all about. Protecting children? Protecting women? Brand dilution of the term “marriage”? It’s certainly not about sex, because anything goes in our society (except prostitution, for some reason), and it’s not about legal privileges, because polygamists have none.

    In a society where divorce is no-fault divorce, where legal marriage is irrelevant to legal sexual relations, where same-sex marriage is over the horizon, and where men and women have equal standing before the law, I just can’t see prosecuting polygamists.

  24. Amen, Kevin. Sometimes humans simply think too much.

    My fundamental issue in topics like this that deal with law is consistency – especially consistency of justification. If a law is going to be enforced or eliminated (or ignored) for a particular justification, that same justification needs to be upheld in other situations to which it applies.

    I have yet to hear a rational argument for or against polygamy that also can’t be made reasonably for or against gay marriage – and, as others have pointed out, if serial adultery / fornication aren’t punished within the law, punishing polygamy (in and of itself) is the very definition of hypocritical.

  25. Amen, Kev. I agree heartily with everything you said.

  26. What of the fact that the federal act allowing Utah to set itself up, required Utah to prohibit polygamy?

    If Utah changes its law, does it lose statehood and revert to territorial status?

  27. Why can’t we just simplify and say marriage has to be between 2 consenting adults. And group marriages are recognized as ‘unions’ but have the same legal standing and require the same paper trail as marriages–just a bunch more signatures to correlate with the bunch more participants and weird “What if I die?” scenarios.

    Personally, I do not see myself accepting the call of godparent to 16 half-related children. But I’m sure someone out there screams for the idea of having a huge family that requires more than one super van to go anywhere.

    Then again maybe we should just get rid of the idea of marriage all together and say folks that have rings are religious, the rest of America has a will.

  28. Maybe someday, Dubois, Idaho could be changed to Brown, Idaho. Can you imagine if the Idaho senator, Dubois, lived today? He has got to be rolling over in his grave.

    Seriously, I have got a scripture text question(s), Kevin.

    Adelphein gunaika ( a sister, a wife) in I Corinthians 9 – Isn’t this the only time that we see this kind of phrase in the Greek N.T.? Do LDS scriptures use the expression “sister wife [wives]?

    I am going to delve into I Corinthians 9 with my church family this Sunday. And it’s ironic, because of the biblical expression in the text, the show “Sister Wives” has been on my mind this week.

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    Todd, the words sister and wife occur in the same verse together 19 times, but most of these are in a genealocial context. Several derive from the stories of Abraham telling Pharaoh that Sarah (his wife) is his sister. Leviticus 18:11 is the legal prohibition against marrying one’s own sister due to close consanguinity.

    AFAICT, you are right that 1 Cor. 9:5 is the only passage where sister and wife are used in apposition together in that manner.

    I like the way the NET takes that verse, understanding “sister” in the sense of one who believes in the Gospel:

    “Do we not have the right to the company of a believing wife, like the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?”

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    Oh, and I forgot to add that I’m unaware of the term “sister wife [wives]” occuring in LDS scripture.

  31. John Mansfield says:

    Kevin, take a look at Leviticus 18 a little further down at verse 18.

  32. observer fka eric s says:

    My wife and I catch Sister Wives on occasion. One conversation three of the wives had on one episode is whether they would have prefered poligamy over what they felt was the highly likely prospect of never marrying or having children. So they made their choice.

    So my question for the YSA women folk here is: if the church un-suspended (reinstituted) plig practice, and you perceived (for whatever reason, whether accurate or not) that the probability of monogamous marriage for you was slim, would you consent to a polygamous relationship?

    YSA guys: if plig was reinstituted, would you feel more motivated to get married any more than you are now?

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    Oh, yeah, John, the Mosaic Code doesn’t want you to marry literal sisters, apparently on the premise that they won’t like it. Interestingly, though, for Mormons in the 19th century plural marriage to biological sisters was fairly common, and actually seemed to be preferable to many wives than adding a stranger to the arrangement.

  34. My great/something grandfather had seven wives. He married two women who were sisters on the same day.

  35. What’s interesting wrt Leviticus is that the passage is used as an argument for the antiquity of the patriarchal stories. No one making up a story about one of the venerable patriarchs would have him violate Torah by marrying sisters, yet it happens.

  36. For those interested in more detail…

    “All Torah legislation forbids marriage with half sisters. This is explicitly stated in Leviticus 18:9 and 20:17 and in Deuteronomy 27:22. Yet, according to Genesis 20:12, Abram claimed that Sarai, his wife, was his half sister—his father’s daughter from another wife. In 2 Samuel 13:13 we read of Tamar’s appeal to her half brother, Amnon, not to rape her. She insists that David, their father, would not deny her to him as a wife, perhaps indicating that a father might have permitted such a marriage at certain periods of biblical history. In effect, the above biblical sources know of no prohibition against marriage with half sisters of the same father.
    Both Leviticus 18:12–14 and 20:19–20 forbid marriage with any of a man’s three possible aunts. Yet Exodus 6:20 records, as part of a priestly genealogy, that Amram married his aunt Jochebed, who bore him Moses and Aaron.
    Finally, Leviticus 18:18 forbids marriage to the sister of one’s wife while that wife is alive. Yet Genesis 29:21–30 relates that Jacob married Leah and Rachel, who were sisters.2
    It is likely, therefore, that the rules governing incest underwent considerable development. In the earlier periods of Israelite history it was permissible to marry a half sister with whom one shared a common father. (There is no explicit evidence to allow for marriage with a half sister from the same mother.) Similarly, one must conclude that the prohibition against marriage with a woman and her sisters is a later development, as is the injunction against marrying aunts (at least of the kind Jochebed was to Amram). Absent from the Torah legislation is any prohibition against marrying cousins; indeed, marriage between patrilineal cousins or between a man and the daughter of his patrilineal cousin was a preferred arrangement. Rebekah was the granddaughter of Isaac’s uncle, Nahor, according to Genesis 22:22–23 and 24:24. Jacob’s relationship to Laban, his father-in-law (and, of course, to his wives) was even more complex: Laban was Jacob’s patrilineal relative, descended from Nahor, but he was also a matrilineal relative—the brother of Jacob’s mother, Rebekah. Marriages with cousins and their children within the patrilineal clan produced other such cross-generational situations as well. Genesis 28:9 recounts that Esau, in an effort to please his father, Isaac, married his uncle Ishmael’s daughter, Mahalath, in other words, his patrilineal first cousin.” -Baruch A. Levine, Leviticus, The JPS Torah commentary, 253-54 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989).

  37. Susan W H says:

    I do not understand how polygamy could be legalized unless polyandry is also legalized. We’re not living in Biblical times now–women have rights too. Talk about a slippery slope.

    Marriage laws aren’t just about people having sex and children. They are about property rights and inheritance rights as well. If my husband of 40 years wants to marry a second wife, do I have to give up my rights to half the community property, or does he have to divide his half into smaller portions?

    We’ll need a lot more lawyers and accountants to sort it all out.

  38. My great/something grandfather had seven wives. He married two women who were sisters on the same day.

    Isn’t this the setup to something that ends with the question, “How many were going to St. Ives?”

  39. I do not understand how polygamy could be legalized unless polyandry is also legalized.

    Well, that’s because polyandry is icky. ;-)

  40. One thing that hasn’t been discussed is how the fact that polygamy is and has been illegal may have actually enabled and caused the secretive and isolationist nature of many polygamous communities – in which a variety of systematized abuses (ala FLDS) thrived.

    It’s similar to the argument about Prohibition – the illegality of alcohol sales in the US didn’t stop drinking – it merely gave rise to violent organized crime.

    I think something similar happened with polygamy. Making it illegal merely caused it to go underground and morph into something far more abusive and ugly. In this sense, the current anti-polygamy laws are merely perpetuating abusive systems like the FLDS.

    I’m not naive enough to think that de-criminalizing polygamy will reform the FLDS overnight. But I view it as a necessary first step.

  41. Chad Too says:

    Perhaps someone more up-to-speed on the legalities can explain this to me because I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer:

    Say that fictional polygamist Heber Henpecked marries Sally Single at the Sanpete County Courthouse and then two years later his spiritual leaders tell him to take the three Triplett sisters to wife and they all “spiritually-marry” him in a private church ceremony. For argument’s sake, let’s say all five people are willing participants and are over the age of 21.

    Five years later, Sheriff I. Gotta Badge decides to arrest Heber on charges of polygamy. In court, the Defense asks for all charges to be dropped based on lack of evidence. The prosecutor laughs, especially since the wedding to the Triplett sisters was videotaped and he has the original. The Defense asks what marriage certificates, if any, will the State introduce into evidence. Since the original marriage to Sally was the only marriage that done through proper legal channels, the Defense claims there is no evidence that this man has married more than one person and the State fails it’s burden.

    If the “marriages” subsequent to the legal marriage were all “spiritual,” isn’t Heber basically a married man with three mistresses and a wife that doesn’t mind? Why would polygamy charges against him stand if he didn’t try to legally marry any of the Triplett sisters?

  42. The courts (at least in Utah) don’t see it that way, even though I think it’s the more logical, rational approach. Again, we come back to the idea that because people think it’s icky, they make faulty rational arguments to make it illegal. Even if they’re supposed to be intelligent and fair judges.

    And yes, if polygamy would be legal, polyandry would have to be legal too.

  43. Kevin Barney says:

    41, yes, that’s exactly the way it should be, in my view. Tim no. 42 is right that the Utah courts don’t currently see it that way, but I think they should.

    Polygamy is basically consensual adultery, and to make that a crime, but have nonconsensual adultery not be a crime, is an absurd result. The only difference is a marriage ceremony that is not recognized by the state anyway. It’s just stupid.

  44. Actually, if he’s living with them, he could be guilty of polygamy even in the absence of marriage certificates.

    Here is the statute:

    “(1) A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.”

    Note that you don’t have to legally marry the other person, you just have to “purport” to marry them or “cohabit” with them.

  45. Adultery is also a crime in Utah:

    76-7-103. Adultery.
    (1) A married person commits adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse.
    (2) Adultery is a class B misdemeanor.

    Fornication is also a crime in Utah.

  46. Left Field says:

    #26: The Utah constitution prohibits polygamous marriages, and contains a provision that the prohibition can’t be changed without the consent of congress. So simply changing the law in Utah would run afoul of the state constitution, barring an act of congress and a constitutional amendment. But I’m sure nothing would revoke statehood.

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    Right. But if we’re not going to enforce adultery statutes, and we’re not, then the old anti-polygamy laws are just plain stupid. Bigamy shouldn’t apply when there is full knowledge and acceptance of the multiple marriages by all concerned.

  48. I agree with that, Kevin. My point was only that it’s not a matter requiring marriage certificates or legal marriage in order to prove a polygamous relationship.

    We don’t enforce statutes criminalizing adultery, fornication or sodomy, as long as the actors are of age and the acts are consensual, but, as you note in the OP, that has been the policy of the State with regard to polygamy for some time as well. There have been no prosecutions for polygamy, per se, in Utah for quite a while.

    I think the problem is that this polygamist is on TV. The authorities are fine with leaving the polygamists alone as long as they are discreet. When someone shows up on TV flouting the law, then the authorities start to come under public pressure to enforce the law.

    Still, I doubt they will actually prosecute him for that. More likely, they will conduct an investigation that will find some tax problems, or other illegalities that they can use as cover.

  49. Chad Too says:

    Has the “purport” language ever been challenged? I can’t imagine getting away with driving without a license as long as I purport to have one.

  50. Kevin Barney says:

    MCQ, right, I’m sure the problem is that they’re being open and public about it.

  51. Chad, I don’t think so, only because the “cohabit” portion of the statute would still trip up a polygamist, even if they successfully got past the “purports to marry” provision.

    And remember, this statute is not allowing marriage if you “purport” to be married, it’s prohibiting a relationship that “purports” to be a marriage. That’s very different from your example of driving without a license when you puport to have one.

  52. The correct analogy would be a statute prohibiting phony driver’s licenses. It might say that someone would be guilty of a crime if he or she manufactured a card that “purported” to be a state driver’s license.

  53. Chad Too says:

    But it does allow a purported marriage to count as a licensed one in terms of bigamy/polygamy prosecution. I can’t imagine that would really stand if challenged.

  54. Meldrum says:

    [Deleted by admin for inappropriate content]

  55. Meldrum says:

    Adultery not adultry. Sorry for other spelling lapses.

  56. Kristine says:

    Meldrum–the spelling was not your only lapse.

  57. Karen H. says:

    Meldrum, your comment is grossly inappropriate. Slandering a minor, BY NAME, on a public website and blaming her for being a victim of what the state deemed as a sex crime? Shame on you. Please take your immaturity and lack of judgment to another blog.

  58. @MikeinWeHo

    You wrote: “Like the (now long-gone) sodomy laws of yore…”

    I’m not disagreeing with the point you made in your post but —

    Unfortunately, those sodomy laws are not long gone. Yes, they are mostly unenforced, but they are still on the books in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and many of the Bible belt states.

    I won’t go into details here but Utah’s sodomy law actually prohibits a number of sexual acts between consenting, even married, adults (heterosexual and homosexual) punishable by up to six months in jail.

  59. Chad:

    “But it does allow a purported marriage to count as a licensed one in terms of bigamy/polygamy prosecution. I can’t imagine that would really stand if challenged.”

    I’m not sure what you mean. The law does not require a “licensed” marriage in order for the person to be successfully prosecuted, only a “purported” marriage OR cohabitation. In other words, it doesn’t require any marriage at all. You can be guilty of bigamy if you live with another person (presumably of the opposite sex) while being knowingly married to someone else. Or you can be found guilty if you “purport” to be married to someone while actually being married to someone else.

    It seems to me that there is a loophole in the statute, however. If you don’t legally marry anyone, but only “spiritually” marry several wives, would you still be guilty of this crime? I don’t think so. You could be found guilty of fornication, I suppose, but not bigamy/polygamy, or even adultery.

  60. Chad Too says:

    I really am trying to understand, MCQ… thank you for being gentle with me.

    I think what I’m trying to say is that if the layman’s definition of bigamy/polygamy is the act of being married to more than one person at a time, then it bothers me that the government could potentially try and convict a person who isn’t married to more that one person in the legal sense, but purports to be.

    …and if I’m understanding you correctly, I can adjust the original example I gave and have Heber legally married to none of those women yet still potentially guilty under the law of polygamy because in his mind he considers himself married.

    I suppose I like my laws cut and dried… this “purport” thing doesn’t sound like it would stand if challenged.

  61. Struwelpeter says:

    Rodney Holm’s conviction was for “purporting to marry” The opinion discusses the ceremony that was performed, and that for all intents and purposes, Holm and his underage bride believed they were being married in the religious sense, although they knew they had no state sanction. The conviction stood, over a dissent from Justice Durham.

  62. deborah says:

    madhousewife said that living in sin is ok,,,,in direct contradiction to the Lord and the General Authorities of the Church and that Celestial Plural Marriage is “disgusting”. Does she realize she is maligning the Prophet Joseph Smith, many of the early leaders of the Lord’s Church, and the gramma’s and grampa’s of many of our current General Authorities? Not to mention Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Gideon and many of the Old Testament Patriarchs? Does she realize that there will be plural marriage in he eternal worlds? Currently men can be sealed to second wives after a divorce in some instances or if the men lose their first wife in death?

  63. deborah, there’s this thing called “sarcasm” . . .

  64. Here’s the relevant section of the Utah constitution:
    Article 3 Section The following ordinance shall be irrevocable without the consent of the United States and the people of this State:
    [Religious toleration -- Polygamy forbidden.]
    First: — Perfect toleration of religious sentiment is guaranteed. No inhabitant of this State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; but polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited. .

    I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that Utah cannot amend its constitution to legalize polygamy on its own. It isn’t clear to me whether Utah can even decriminalize polygamy.

    Legalization would require an act of congress allowing Utah to then attempt to amend its constitution. Good luck with either step of that process.

  65. deborah says:

    I would think that if it is true as John said, that the Utah Constitution protects the practicing of all religions “except those that practice polygamy”, that it would violate the US Constitution’s Equal Protection clause and it clearly violates the religious freedoms our US Constitution grants. “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof.”

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