Skip to comments.Of Course the Law Should Tolerate Plural Marriages
Posted on 12/19/2013 12:43:28 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Last Friday, a U.S. District Court struck down a central part of the Utah statute that outlaws polygamy. The ruling was not just a victory for the husband and wives who had brought the suit to courtKody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown, who belong to a Mormon splinter church called the Apostolic United Brethren and star in a reality TV show called Sister Wives. Nor was it merely a victory for families with more than two spouses. It was a victory for sane public policy.
The case is drenched in the politics of polygamy, but in one important way it isnt about polygamy at all. The Browns all live together, but only one of the wives has a marriage license. To the extent that their family departs from American marital norms, it is a private arrangement unrecognized by the state. The Browns household is more like the informal and contractual gay unions that have existed for decades than the fully recognized same-sex marriages that many states are beginning to allow today.
And thats all that is now legal. Previously, Utah considered a person guilty of bigamy if, knowing he [or she] 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. It is the final part of that restrictionthe bit about cohabitationthat comes into play here. If a dozen roommates in San Francisco decide to set up a polymorphous polyamorous partnership, the law would have nothing to say about the matter. (The building code enforcers might object, I suppose. But thats a separate issue.) Utahs rules are different, and they are different because of a long legacy of prejudice and religiously targeted persecution. Pointing to this persecution and to a history of selective enforcement, Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that the portion of the statute prohibiting cohabitation violates the First Amendments guarantee of religious liberty. Pointing to other matters of law, such as the fact that Utah no longer has common-law marriages, he ruled that the ban on "purport[ing] to marry another person" should apply only to someone attempting or pretending to acquire more than one marriage license. That puts households like the Browns in the clear.
So Utah is not about to start recognizing group marriages. It's just going to stop bringing criminal charges against people who have done nothing more than establish their own unlicensed big-love homes. Whether or not you agree with Waddoups legal reasoning, as a matter of policy the new order is vastly preferable to the old. Indeed, this case demonstrates just how misguided a crackdown on polygamy can be.
The most common argument against tolerating plural marriages is that they are often associated with abuse. There are stories of desert sects forcing women into marriage, of girls raped by their elders, of boys being abandoned instead of letting them grow up to compete for scarce wives. Terrible, unconscionable stuff. Yet the Sister Wives case makes it clear that, no matter how exploitative some plural marriages may be, that does not mean they all are. The courts decision notes that There has been no allegation of child or spousal abuse by members of the Brown family and that No member of the Brown family has ever been charged with a crime. To punish the Browns because of crimes committed by other polygamists would be discriminatory and perverse. Indeed, it would divert resources that could be spent ferreting out the genuine abusers.
This ferreting, in turn, was harder to do because plural marriage was a felony. That broad bigamy statute drove entire subcultures underground. It gave non-abusive polygamists an incentive not to come forward when they learned about abuses in other homes. It exacerbated the problems that the law was supposed to solve. By tolerating plural marriage, Utah will allow more sunshine to fall on it.
Nor does this decision stumble into the thorny issues raised by the idea of licensing these marriages. There are non-trivial questions of how the tax, welfare, and immigration systems would handle a world where the state recognizes, as opposed to merely tolerates, polygamous and polyamorous unions. I dont think those issues are insurmountable, and I think a strong case for fully legal plural marriages can be made; but in this case, you dont need to make it. The state of Utah isnt being ordered to revamp its family law. It is being ordered to revamp its criminal code. It will now be both easier to combat genuine crimes and easier for nonviolent nonconformists to live their lives without fear of arrest. Thats two reasons to cheer the decision.
Marrying and giving in marriage is a very blatant sign of the end, is it not?
Plural homosexual marriages next, followed by Pedophile marriages, people marrying their pets and so on.
All of these will be ‘cheered’ by ‘reason’ too I’m sure.
And civil society collapses outright.
“because wickedness shall abound - the love of many, will grow cold” - Matthew 24:12
Yeah. Reason. Polygamy is sane public policy.
Reason. Oh yeah.
The extreme left are creating a backlash against themselves... one that is of Biblical Proportions... you wait and see.
“informal and contractual gay unions that have existed for decades”
This guy thinks the history of sodomites shacking up only extends “decades” into the past?
Polygamy has been widespread throughout history, including early Christianity. Charlemagne had three official wives and many concubines.
Homosexual marriage has never been practiced anywhere at anytime until now.
I’ve said that time after time over the years and have been attacked frequently.
Polygamy only puts the stamp of approval on man’s polymorphous sexual appetite. For instance, the idea of marrying a tree might make sense to someone with a sexual fascination for knot holes. Releasing the constraints of the male libido has never been a good idea for society.
Silver lining has been pointed out before, no more more inheritance taxes when pleural marriages in name only occur with parents and children.
Remember when they used to say it wasn’t about polygamy and boys using girls bathrooms? That these were scare tactics?
Legalization of prostitution, bestiality, and lowering of consent laws are next folks. The society is beyond sick and getting worse.
If the law allows polygamy, then the law should also allow each additional spouse to be a tax deduction.
So, one would then expect people to enter into fake marriages strictly for tax reasons.
If the slope isn’t slippery enough, throw some grease on it.
I don’t consider this ruling “a big win” for polygamists regardless of the hype.
The case was not about polygamy, but bigamy.
In bigamy, when the bigamist cohabits with another, they’re doing it in a different location and w/o knowledge of wife #1.
Since wife #1 is living w/the group, and not somewhere else, there’s no bigamy going on.
Heck yeah—in Jerry Springer’s Amerika a fella ought be able to divorce his wife and marry his TV set—or his favorite dog.But this is NOT the nation established in 1776
actually, let's ditch the tax code that dictates public policy instead. In fact, marriage is supposed to be a religious union. Gov't should have nothing to say in the matter, and the law should recognize such. Civil unions are for contractual obligations.