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I support polygamists’ lawsuit

Timothy Kincaid

July 12th, 2011

Get ready to hear the anti-gays shriek, “I told you so!” A reality celebrity polygamist family from Utah is suing that state to have its polygamy law found unconstitutional. And I support them. (ABC)

The polygamist family portrayed on the TLC reality show “Sister Wives” said all along its main goal in going on national television was to gain public acceptance of its lifestyle.

Now family patriarch Kody Brown, his four wives and 16 children and stepchildren are moving from the court of public opinion to the court of law, arguing that criminalizing their lifestyle is unconstitutional.

This lawsuit may seem to support the contentions of Maggie Gallagher and the others who spend their energy obsessing over my life and campaigning to keep me inferior. And it may seek peculiar that I would support such and endeavor.

But here’s the thing. They are not suing to have their family structure given legal recognition; that I would oppose.

The legal bonds of matrimony uniquely empower one person to be the sole caretaker and decision-maker over another in times of trouble, the primary heir with unique right at death, and encompasses a whole host of entanglements that become complicated beyond possibility when more than two are included. While the State can step in to a family squabble and say we recognize the spouse, chaos would result from multiple spouse with equal claim or, worse yet, some hierarchy of squabbling spouses.

But their lawsuit is about something else, the effort by the state to control their sex life. Unlike other states which do not recognize multi-party marriage, Utah has banned multi-party cohabitation.

The state law reads: “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.”

Kody Brown is legally married to one woman, Meri, but also calls the other three women his spouses.

And while I do not wish to open legal marriage to multiple parties, I am a big fan of leaving people live how they want, love whom they want, and in general be as stupid as they want to be (and, believe me, I think any non-bisexual woman that enters into a relationship in which she is one of four women with one man is stupid). So if you want to live with the knowledge that you have no right to recourse should your man and his other three women tire of you, knock yourself out.

And this is not just a theoretical complaint against the state. The police in Lehi, Utah, launched an investigation into the Brown family’s lifestyle for a possible charge of bigamy.

So yeah, I side with the crazy people on this one. If you think that your god wants you to share your man with three other women (one of whom has all the legal rights) then I’ll support your right to sleep where you want and with whom. But fair warning, polygamists, don’t be marrying 14 year-olds or abandoning your male children on a street corner or I’ll happily lead the charge to throw your nasty ass in jail.

Comments

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Shofixti
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

Any idea how many people have been prosecuted under this law in the last twenty years?

CPT_Doom
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

I think the best way to put it is this – if Mr. Brown’s wife wants to allow him to have several mistresses, who are we to judge?

Manawolf
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

Those [gays/polygamists] can have their legal rights, but if they start [perverting my children/screwing in the street/marrying 14-year-olds/abandoning kids] we’ll throw the book at ‘em! Yeah!

… Wait a minute…

Russ Manley
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, if you do a little quick research on Wikipedia, I believe you’ll find that Utah was pretty much required to pass an anti-bigamy statute in order to be admitted to the Union. Might be a number of historical considerations there that you aren’t yet aware of.

Beyond all that – I’d like to suggest in a friendly way that at this particular moment when the dams of DADT and DOMA and others are spouting leaks and might be crumbling any day now – it might just be the best thing for us all to keep your thoughts on the polygamy issue to yourself? Is it really and truly necessary for you to stir that pot – I ask you. Can’t we just let the straights hash that one out amongst themselves?

We’re so close, and the haters are already calling for our blood. Don’t let’s fuck it up, shall we?

Ben In Oakland
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

Here it is, one more time. The very essence of bigotry. Straight people behave badly, and gay people get the blaime for their failures.

This is a case of HETEROSEXUALS challenging the cohabitation law, probably using Lawrence. It has nothing to do with same sex marriage, and very little to do with polygamous marriage.

Erin
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, and anyone else who wants to speak on this is allowed their opinion. I agree with him. No one in this country should be arrested for having multiple partners who are all aware of the arrangement, when it is not a criminal offense for a man to run around on his wife with as many different women as he wants. It’s none of the government’s business who we sleep with. And no, Timothy’s opinion on this does not echo anti-gay arguments. In some sects that practice polygamy, underage girls have been married off to older men, and Timothy simply and rightly pointed out that that is still wrong and should still be legal. He’s merely arguing that consenting adults should not be criminalized for their sex lives. Period. Those bigamy laws were passed in the 19th century. This is the 21st century. I don’t believe a one-man with multiple wives scenario is a gender-equal relationship, and I don’t believe it’s conducive to an emotionally healthy relationship, but if this is what these people chose, they should not be criminals for it.

Erin
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

Correction: I meant to say underage brides should still be *illegal.*

Fergie
July 12th, 2011 | LINK

I have always wondered if a lot of the venom directed at gay marriage (or civil unions) here in Utah by the LDS Church, wasn’t just a proxy fight against recognizing polygamy.

Us gay folk are a minor problem for the LDS Church compared to the briar patch that is polygamy, prophetic visions within the LDS Church, revisionist history, and “traditional marriage”.

Let their Public Relations blitz, and whining begin….

Kristie
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve been watching “Sister Wives” since it first began airing on TLC and when I started watching it, it was from a sense of morbid curiosity, but I have really grown to like and respect the Browns over the last two years. Sadly, Utah is not the only state in the US that makes “co-habitation” a crime and this case could change that not just in Utah, but all over the country. I really hope that the Browns are able to win their case because who they choose to form their family with is not the state’s business and as long as they are all consenting adults and no one is being harmed in the relationship, they should not be treated as criminals.

I do disagree with your view on not allowing those in plural marriages to have legal recognition, though, because if people love more than 1 person at a time, they should have the right to legally bind themselves to those people at the same time, if they are all agreeable to it.And if their religious institution wants to sanctify that marriage, it should not be the state’s place to say it’s not a valid marriage. People should have the right to love and marry whom they choose as long as they are consenting adults making the choice of their own free will. A marriage contract should not be treated any differently than any other contract and if contracts can be entered into for business by multiple parties, why should multiple parties not be allowed to enter into a marriage contract? If a man has 1 wife, she gets his social security benefit when he dies and if he has 4 wives, they each get 1/4.If there are 4 LEGAL spouses then no one wife would be entitled to more than any other legally, because they would all have an equal claim.

Derrick
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

I am closely watching this case so that my husband and I can start living the principle of polyGAYmy again, just as our Mormon ancestors did.

Amicus
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

But here’s the thing. They are not suing to have their family structure given legal recognition; that I would oppose.

The provision they are challenging has to do with enforcement. If you take away the ability to enforce a law, any law, I’m not sure this needle that you are threading makes much sense.

Those who locate polygamy as just another neutral choice on the menu of sexual acts/options ignore the social dimensions of it. (Why they do is an interesting question.) But, it’s not just another private choice, is it? It’s not swinging couples or even casual marital infidelity (or the infamous Texas dildo law). It’s a whole new way to organize society.

werdna
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

“It’s a whole new way to organize society.”

Not that new, of course!

Lucrece
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

How about the government stops privileging one peculiar family structure with a host of rights, and simply gets out of the marriage business?

Married people should not be getting any perks over other family/friendship settings and single people.

Matt
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

I am a big fan of leaving people live how they want, love whom they want, and in general be as stupid as they want to be

The idea that you can “leave people be” to “be as stupid as they want to be” and that it doesn’t affect society generally and ALL of the individuals that live in that society is mistaken. But, you know, you get to be “tolerant,” and the effects of people’s bad decisions will mostly be endured by the poor, who can’t move away from failed neighborhoods and schools where people being, as you put it, “stupid” have destroyed their communities.

People should have the right to love and marry whom they choose as long as they are consenting adults making the choice of their own free will. A marriage contract should not be treated any differently than any other contract and if contracts can be entered into for business by multiple parties, why should multiple parties not be allowed to enter into a marriage contract?

Because it doesn’t affect the kids at all when divorce happens and 29 different parents have custody claims.

Michael
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t know. I may be completely off, but I just see it as a return of “Traditional” marriage. Poligamy is nothing new and for much of human history has been legal and even revered. I just don’t get our American obsession with regulating the relationshiips of others. Again, it’s just my view, and I may be crazy but that’s the way I feel.

Equal
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Polygamy is a separate argument because it changes the rules and relationship dynamics for straight people, while allowing gay people the same rights straight people currently enjoy does not change the rules or relationship dynamics for straight people.

Polygamy is not a sexual orientation, but a lifestyle choice. As practiced, it restricts the availability of women, denying some men the opportunity for marriage, which would have a destabilizing effect on society, whereas allowing gay people to marry has a stabilizing effect on those relationships and society in general. As it is usually one man and as many women as he can afford, it would result in rich men having many wives with poorer men having none. That would also result in older men having more wives while putting pressure on women to marry younger, as is currently the practice. This dynamic limits the ability of women to have equal opportunities for education, employment, and status.

It also changes the genetic balance by limiting the gene pool, which history has shown is not in the interest of survivability of the species. Allowing gay people to marry does not limit the gene pool, but possibly expands it. Additionally, gay couples often adopt, and often take in the hard to place children that have been abused and discarded by their straight parents, which is another stabilizing influence on society. There are other problems with polygamy including problems with child abuse, spousal abuse, child custody and property divisions, and inequality of relationships, but I hope these examples help to point out why polygamy is a separate argument, and far from an inevitable consequence of marriage equality. Allowing gay people the same opportunities and dignity straight people have however, is a matter of fairness.

Priya Lynn
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Kristie said “A marriage contract should not be treated any differently than any other contract and if contracts can be entered into for business by multiple parties, why should multiple parties not be allowed to enter into a marriage contract? If a man has 1 wife, she gets his social security benefit when he dies and if he has 4 wives, they each get 1/4.If there are 4 LEGAL spouses then no one wife would be entitled to more than any other legally, because they would all have an equal claim.”.

I don’t think all legal issues entailing from polygamy are as easily solved as you suggest. Taking your example of 1 man and 4 wives, suppose the husband falls ill and becomes incapcitated, the right to make medical decisions normally falls to the wife, but who would have that right in this marriage? They could vote, but if 2 wives want one option and 2 wives want another option does the husband simply do without treatment until he dies?

Regan DuCasse
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Equal is reiterating all the discernible and recorded NEGATIVE consequences of plural relationships. Especially the gender imbalance here. Would this guy accept his wife, or the other wives taking ANOTHER HUSBAND? And not consulting HIM about it?

I doubt it.
This IS about a lifestyle choice, and one that involves EXCESS.
This arrangement isn’t essential to their material and physical comfort. In fact, one might argue that such resources are stretched quite thin because they CHOSE to have it that way.

And I just read the basic statistical information the government could get on these families based on the WELFARE they receive.
Most of these men CAN’T afford these children, they either obtain welfare, or work these children illegally in family businesses.
So, since they involve the state in giving them money to support these extra women and children, then the state deserves to reserve in what way the support him having this arrangement.

I might agree that they shouldn’t get arrested for this, with the exception of forcing an underage girl into this, or discarding the boys who’d compete for them.
But such issues WILL occur if this is accepted more widely and there is no oversight into a problem that can be prevented with the kinds of restrictions Utah has now.

Which I believe is the point of Utah having this law in the first place.

Amicus
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

How about the government stops privileging one peculiar family structure with a host of rights, and simply gets out of the marriage business?

I’ll suggest a few reasons why, just to jog some people’s imaginations.

First, access to marriage protects individuals from the state. While this might seem trivial in a society where that right is taken for granted, allowing people to focus on the ills and not the benefits, that fact remains (and is perhaps paramount, in the big picture).

Second, having kids is a really big burden, financially, sexually, emotionally, etc. Having an system that recognizes that, perhaps by tipping the field, is not such a bad thing, except if it gets done in untoward ways.

As with many things, too much of a straightjacket on these matters is no good either.

cd
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Yeah, the problem here is the one that adultery laws have. It limits peoples’ ability to negotiate/live their personal relationships too greatly.

I just don’t get our American obsession with regulating the relationships of others. Again, it’s just my view, and I may be crazy but that’s the way I feel.

This country was founded as the place where people of European descent would for once and all time be free and try to get it all right. Which entails that all usual human errors and traumas and defects and variation, flagrant and subtle, would arrive on American shores and somehow manifest. Our history is one of struggling and slowly unraveling them, of showing that in fact it can be done. The struggles are rarely pretty. Every story of redemption is a story of horrible suffering and cruelty, of discerning truth, and finally grace.

We try to remember the grace.

cowboy
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

I was raised in a rural Utah town. I had associations with polygamists (more correctly: with the adolescents of the group). However, I’m not an authority on polygamy…far from it.

And, I’m actually surprised someone from one of the myriad of polygamy sects has not commented here.

I can tell you they are just like us. They have the same conflicts with jobs and marital problems (times two or more). Plus, I don’t doubt there are gay polygamists. Though children of these sects generally would be rather repressed…much more than in a regular Mormon culture.

They are discriminated against. I have witnessed a few times where people would not frequent any businesses owned by a polygamist. Some people would point to some polygamist big compounds with their huge homes behind tall fences and say: “They don’t need the money. They have enough already.” Some peoples’ bigotry in relating to polygamists are not rooted in fact but mostly hearsay.

We’re all strange in some manner. We need to judiciously determine what should be our concern with whom does what in our society and what government laws/policies should be enacted or redacted

Regan DuCasse
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Cowboy,
It’s been said, there ARE serious negative and discernible results to this arrangement.
And it’s not a marriage of equals, as the single spouse issue is, but a marriage that benefits the male unequally to the females. As I asked, do the women get to have multiple HUSBANDS?
And it’s a LIFESTYLE choice. Not an orientation.
A lifestyle with negative consequences BECAUSE it’s planned that way. It’s no accident of existence, but a system of indoctrination that allows patriarchal control over females. THAT is why it’s not accepted as something valid and supportable. And why these families aren’t widely accepted.
There is serious gender imbalance going on that negatively affects other males, leaving less options for a wife for the others.
I think someone might have mentioned it, but I’ve stated it before too that serial divorce and remarriage is the only thing that is similar, at least to how expansive a family can get. Particularly if first spouses never remarry, but are the custodial parents to their children.
This situation is hardly something people LIKE and PREFER, because the emotional, physical, material and financial resources are stretched over so many people.

If you’re in a relationship, it’s hard enough for one spouse homes to have enough time with each other, or parents with their own children. Ever around a house with a LOT of children? Ever heard of horrendous sibling rivalry?
These people are putting on a happy face for a camera, but these plural homes break up too. They just leave MORE people behind to handle the wreckage.

cowboy
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Ms. DuCasse,

I don’t have much time to respond but let me just say:

By far the polygamy sects I know are very patriarchal. No minimizing that aspect.

There is a whole lot of mental manipulation within the very closed-communities of polygamy. I so marvel at how people are still being influenced by the weirdo Warren Jeffs. There is some kind of psychological manipulation at play with these people.

B John
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

This is a very interesting discussion. We don’t have kids, but my significant other has three nephews, and they are a handful. I know why kids do better with two parents over a single parent. (Note, I did not say a man and a woman.) So does that mean having three parents is better than two…probably not if there are six children instead of three.

The math just says there is a point of diminishing return. But, let us not forget that we have resented all along NOM and the others bringing children into the discussion of gay marriage. So what if there was a family of 1 man and three women and no children. All four work, so there’s no welfare…is that OK?

I just don’t know the answer, but I think he’s correct in wanting the law declared unconstitutional on the ground Timothy notes…cohabitation. We have seen how dangerous it becomes as the government begins to intrude into the bedrooms of consenting adults.

Now, once children are in the picture, and you require the government subsidize the care and feeding of your children, we have a right to have a say, but who you’re sleeping with should be your business.

All that said, I wonder if Newt Gingrich ever visited Utah with his mistress while still married to his wife? Wouldn’t that merit an arrest warrant?

justme
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Polygamy has worked across the world since the dawn of time. It’s nothing new, but the persecution of it relatively is. Obviously underaged brides, incest and the abuse of women are all crimes perpetrated by polygamous criminals, but polygamy itself harms exactly no one.

The children and wives of polygamy exist and they deserve the same legal protections that all children and wives deserve. Why should they be in legal limbo? Why, especially, should children suffer because their parents can only have one legal spouse?

There is simply no logical reason to say that one wife is inherently superior to four. Logic, in fact, would dictate the opposite. We know also that children benefit from having as many loving adults in their lives as possible.

Outlawing polygamy has never stopped polygamy. Regulating polygamy would only help polygamous families and society. So, of course I’m for the legalization of polygamy.

I’m just not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

Priya Lynn
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Justme said “Obviously underaged brides, incest and the abuse of women are all crimes perpetrated by polygamous criminals, but polygamy itself harms exactly no one.”.

I disagree. Any relationship with a huge power imbalance (as is the case in virtually all polygamous relationships) is inherently abusive.

justme
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn, I don’t disagree exactly, and some polygamous structures have that power imbalance at its core, but 1) if a wife chooses to be subordinate to her husband, I may not think it’s the best choice but I do think it’s her choice and 2) one way to be rid of the power imbalance in polygamy is to legally empower each of the wives through legal marriage.

Richard Rush
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Here is a little anecdotal story relating to this topic:

During my teenage/young-adult years from the 1950s into 1970s I was very close to a family were a woman cohabitated with two men, one of which was her husband. During those years I visited their home many, many times. I know for a fact that the arrangement worked out very well for everyone, particularly for the seven children who benefited greatly by the presence of the second “husband.” After the death of the legal husband (in his 70s), the woman married the other. There was a lot of love in that family. The woman and two men are now all deceased.

Priya Lynn
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Justme, when a there’s a huge power imbalance it may not be entirely the wife’s uncoerced decision to enter into that marriage.

Priya Lynn
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Also, justme, when there’s one husband and many wives there’s going to be a division of power amongst the wives and legal marriage is never going to be able to even that out in all circumstances.

Regan DuCasse
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

@ Just me

“polygamy has worked across the world”.
You’re kidding, right?
Define ‘worked’, because the historical record of such situations across the world absolutely DIDN’T work, especially for the FEMALES.
Arranged marriages, in which the female didn’t have a say in who she married, nor in who the additional wives would be. And if they were all widowed, they got traded like so many cattle to ANOTHER man (who they didn’t choose either) who took them.

There have been very recent articles in National Geographic, the NYTimes, Time magazine and articles online regarding child brides. Which reflects more the practice as it’s always been. More between a child and a grown man. And the girl would be traded for her dowry, which would be paid to her father.
Girls have been prepped to be wives and are indoctrinated into accepting plural wife life.
Because of their young ages, girls have NO control or say in these situations. Rapes occur, they become pregnant and suffer devastating injury or infection or death from birth or pregnancy complications.

Polygamy has ‘worked’? Depends on who you ask. There is a devastating book about a girl in Afghanistan who ran away from her marriage, and at risk to her life, petitioned a legal court to get a divorce. She was ten years old and trying to get a divorce!
And I’d like to see some honest reporting on the jealousies, rivalries, sabotage and so on that occurs in these homes. I read a novel called “A Thousand Splendid Suns” about a woman trapped in a plural marriage.
There are books out there about the realities of FLDS plural homes in America. And btw, religious plural homes are that way SPECIFICALLY to bear as many children as possible.
Perhaps even against her better instincts a female is required to have a child to have acceptance in her sect, even if she’s not equipped to be a mother.

These polygamists might be petitioning not to have the government intrude on their privacy and family arrangement.
But the point of the state sanctioning marriage the way it does, is STILL to keep it simple so that all parties understand it and the state can cover it’s own obligations.
Excess and redundancy isn’t a NECESSITY to these families. This IS about EXCESS and creating a convoluted and complicated family network that the government would be limited to cover anyway.
So, no…this isn’t a deserving situation because of it.
Mores the point it creates an unfair imbalance of opportunity.
If I were a single woman, and really wanted to be married. I’d think it a completely outrageous thing for ONE woman to have three husbands and I have no one.
And vice versa when it comes to men and having wives.

Polygamy actually doesn’t work. There is such a thing as having too much of something to the point of it becoming bad.

Jesse
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

@Regan DuCasse

Like Richard Rush, I also know a woman who cohabitates with two STRAIGHT men. She is legally married to one, but considers the other equally part of the family.

Within my social circle I’m familiar with three separate triads of gay men in which at least two of the partners are spiritually or legally married and the third has been cohabiting for more than two years.

I also know one trio that consists of a bisexual man, his straight wife, and his live-in gay partner.

All are as reasonably happy and normal as any other family.

You assertion that all polygamists are members of patriarchal religious cults seeking to dominate and oppress women is stuck in another era.

This is the 21st Century.

pax58
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

I will admit that I have personally added more to the human population than just replacing myself when I have passed. One of the biggest moral issues of this type of arrangment is the number of children born into these families. In a world of limited resources, with thousands dying all over the world for lack of enough food, is it moral for one man with multiple wives to produce so many offspring? I went to school with African persons who were children of these arrangements, in those country only men who can support the wives and children are generally allowed to do so. Just a thought.

Erin
July 13th, 2011 | LINK

Wow, I see a lot of negative comments about polygamists on here, and I must say, all of you make valid and some not so valid points about the negative aspects of such a family structure. Yet none of you demonstrated a legal argument why polygamy should be a criminal offense. The simple answer is it should not.

Those arguing that polygamists should have a valid marriage license for multiple partners at once completely missed Timothy’s valid point about the structure and purpose of marriage according to the law. A legal marital status grants married people one default legal next of kin for purposes of property rights, inheritance, medical decision-making and visitation, funeral planning, etc. A straight man with multiple partners still has the same right as a straight man with one partner to one legal spouse. And this statement continues to baffle me:
“How about the government stops privileging one peculiar family structure with a host of rights, and simply gets out of the marriage business?
Married people should not be getting any perks over other family/friendship settings and single people.” This ridiculous argument irritates me like no other. The government enforces contracts and sets rules for divorce. Without some level of government, there is no way to ensure hospitals, employers, funeral homes, nursing homes and lawyers respect and recognize spouses. And to say that single people are being discriminated against is ridiculous. Why does someone without a spouse need the government to recognize their spouse, in other words why does a single person need the legal function of marriage. The opportunity to marry is available to single people. There is no discrimination in that regard as far as straight people go. LGBT people are another story. In most states they don’t have the right to marry their partners, and unlike polygamists and single people, those LGBT folks who wish to marry have one partner they wish to protect under the law.

Regan DuCasse
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

@Jesse,
Well, big whoop that you know some people in a poly AMOROUROUS situation. Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT put out inaccuracies about what I said regarding TRADITIONAL polygamy in other countries, practiced to THIS day in the 21st century.

And let me make it very clear if you didn’t understand me the first time: comparing the situations you and Richard know where a woman had two men in her life, does NOT compare to the TRADITIONAL arrangement, (which IS determined and motivated by religion), that prompted this discussion in the first place.

And still, it WOULD suck for a woman longing to have someone in HER life, to witness a woman having so much excess of men in one home.
The way it must suck for gay people to be starved of marrying at all, while forced to watch heteros GORGE themselves on the privilege.
Inherently, this arrangement has a major imbalance of opportunity and primacy for people to at least LEARN and respect how to arrange their lives around loyalty to THE most intimate relationship one human can have with another.
We’re already suffering the negative affects of recreational sex and superficiality in not only marriage, but PARENTING too.
Leaving WAY to much dissipation of STRONG connection and trust, and reinforcing it. In Kobe Brown’s home, I wonder how much time he can really give each of those 16 children to the point THEIR needs are really met in full?
You might say that’s up to the individuals to decide what they can handle. But essentially they are forcing OTHERS to handle it too by way of a widespread trend when one person takes on a lot of lovers, and leaves not enough for anyone else.
Two is company, three is a crowd. Even more than that, is being greedy.
And no, there isn’t enough to go around, despite a crowded world.
So, although some might say it’s unrealistic to expect monogamy, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage it, or that poly-whatever arrangements are a GOOD thing.

Erin
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

@ Regan: No one is saying Cody Brown’s type of family is the happiest, healthiest arrangement. This post only argues that Cody Brown should not be arrested or fined and charged as a criminal for it. Polygamy is not about to become a widespread trend anytime soon, and saying that letting others live that way somehow forces it on the rest of us sounds an awful lot like a certain anti-gay argument I hear all the time. I’m not saying that overall you’re wrong, because I agree with you in your negative ideas about polygamy. I’m simply saying you should stick to valid arguments against it. I know love usually doesn’t work too well when you have to share the person you love with other people. I don’t care what anyone says, jealousy, feelings of inadequacy and general hurt have to run rampant on the parts of the females in such arrangments. Yes I believe this arrangement is the result of misogynistic traditions made up for selfish, egotistical men that thankfully mostly died a while ago.

Priya Lynn
July 14th, 2011 | LINK

Erin said “Yet none of you demonstrated a legal argument why polygamy should be a criminal offense. The simple answer is it should not.”.

Well, you haven’t convinced me. I’m not sure if it should be a criminal offense or not, on principle I’d say not, but I can’t help but believe few if any women freely enter such an arrangement of their own volition with no coercion and that makes me think it possibly should be criminalized.

Justme suggests a legalized marriage might address help ameliorate the major power imbalance but I think it is more likely such a marriage will merely give this major power imbalance the force of law behind it.

melanieB
July 20th, 2011 | LINK

Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners. Polygamy and bigamy are illegal in the state of Utah, but the household in the television show “Sister Wives” is taking the state to the courtroom to challenge the credibility of those rules.

Erin
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Priya, why is it difficult to convince you a man should not be criminalized for his sex life in the United States of America. There are already laws to cover abuse and rape, so if the females weren’t consenting, he could be arrested for that. Just living with multiple women should not be a criminal offense in a civilized country. Period. I watch about 1 and a half episodes out of sheer morbid curiosity and all claimed they had chosen that life because of their religion. I personally opine they should come into the 21st century and see themselves as full citizens and not part of a collection of trophy wives, but I’m not about to take away their choice to share one husband. It’s not for me, but you better believe, if any of them get arrested for it, I’ll be quick to speak up on behalf of their FREEDOM.

Priya Lynn
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Erin because I’m not convinced it is a choice they make without coercion. I know a lot of abuse goes on in polygamous marriages despite laws against such abuse, the polygamous arrangement makes it much easier to perpetrate such abuse and the subservient attitudes of the wives make it much easier to hide. For me you also don’t help your case by saying they have “chosen” that life because of their religion – more coercion to me.

I believe that people should be allowed to do whatever they as long as they don’t harm others, I just am not convinced polygamy is harmless and freely entered into.

I also don’t know a great deal about polygamy and its ramifications which is why I’m undecided on the issue of criminalizing it. If polygamy was criminalized I think it should be solely the husband, or instigator that goes to jail.

Priya Lynn
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Erin, I forgot to add: As I see it that man wouldn’t be criminalized for his sex life, he’d be criminalized for his abuse and borderline enslavement of women.

Erin
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Priya, I’m afraid you’re wrong on this one. Unless abuse can be proven, the man should not be made a criminal. Again, I watched enough of the show to know this is a religious thing for them, and they knew from the time they were little girls that they would be in this situation when they got older. I’m not a fan of religion, even more mainstream ones, for one because it has this ability to keep misogynistic traditions alive. Perhaps peer pressure or the traditions of their families have led them to believe they should choose this type of life, but unless you can prove they are being held in this man’s house against their will or that physical or sexual abuse is occurring, all things that are already crimes, and yes should be subject to prosecution, they should be free to live as they wish. You seem to want to deem these people guilty before proven innocent, and that is not the way this country is supposed to operate. Again, I never said polygamy was harmless. Human beings are simply not psychologically-wired to want to share someone they love with other partners. But it is not the job of the government to police the emotional health of private relationships. And we don’t arrest a man who runs around on his wife with his secretary. It is completely hypocritical and unamerican to arrest the guy who has the multiple partners sharing him willingly. And I watched the show enough to know both he and his first wife were of age and chose one another to marry. No one was coerced. The women he unofficially married after that were all adults whom he courted and were aware of what they were getting into and did so willingly. If something went down differently than the accoutns they gave or something goes on behind the scenes of the show in terms of abuse, that is a different story. But until there is evidence, he should be a free man. In the Lawrence v Texas case, it was decided consenting adults could have whatever kind of sexual relationship they wanted in private. The bigamy laws should be repealed across the country and we should stick to prosecuting individual acts of abuse.

Priya Lynn
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Well Erin, I’m not an expert on law but if I remember correctly an organization that’s been set up specifically to committ crimes can be legally disbanded even if there is no evidence that a crime has yet been committed.

You say there is no coercion yet you acknowledge that they knew from the time they were little girls that they would be in this situation. That doesn’t sound to me like something they’ve freely chosen as adults, its been ordained since they were too young to make an informed decision.

I admit that it may be that there are some polygamous marriages where everyone is a consenting uncoerced adult but it seems unlikely to me (and I could be wrong) that the majority of them are uncoerced. Criminalizing polygamy may be unfair to some marriages but one must ask which way benifits the most people and harms the fewest? From what I’ve heard and read, which isn’t a whole pile it seems to me it may be better to criminalize it and that will result in benefits to the greater number of people with fewer being harmed by the law.

If you want to convince me otherwise you need to present evidence that what I’ve said isn’t true but you don’t seem to have such evidence and in fact admit you haven’t said that polygamy is harmless.

Another strike against polygamy is that in polygamist communities it creates a shortage of marriageable women for young men who are often then forced out of the community and left to their own devices with no community supervision.

I can imagine that you find the TV show compelling but what reason is there to believe its typical of polygamous marriages? Surely they selected the best example they could find to display to the public and one family hardly creates a statistically signifant survey

Once again, I don’t know if it should be criminalized or not, I don’t know enough about it and the ramifications to make a decision one way or another, but if you want to convert me to your side I need evidence that the preponderance of such marriages are beneificial and the women in them uncoerced and having made the decision as adults, not as children.

Priya Lynn
July 21st, 2011 | LINK

Erin, if its any consolation to you I won’t be advocating for or against polygamist marriages. This issue is a red herring anti-gay bigots want to hang around the heads of the LGBT community and we should have no part in debating it.

The underlying “logic” of the anti-gays is “If we allow gay marriage what reason do we have to deny polygamists marriage?”. The fact that gay marriage is denied in no way justifies denying polygamist marriages, if that’s the only “reason” anti-gays have for opposing polygamy then they have no reason at all for such opposition. If they want to oppose polygamy the obligation is on them to come up with reasons why it should be opposed, rather than asking the LGBT community to. This is not our issue and the validty or lack of validity of polygamy stands or falls on its own merits and is seperate from the justification for same sex marriage. The denial of marriage to gays no more justifies the denial of polygamy than the denial of driver’s licenses to foreigners would justify denying them to Texans.

Erin
July 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Priya, the simple fact is that polygamy is an institution that has been around for a long time, and historically it has involved women being forced into it as a piece of property, which everyone can agree on. That doesn’t mean modern polygamous families can’t put a 21st century twist on it and make it so women have the free choice to enter into that situation or not. And the pressure of following tradition is not the same as forcing a woman to marry a man as one of multiple wives by kidnapping or raping her. Indoctrination is perfectly legal in this country. The govt cannot enforce something like that, it can only go after concrete examples of kidnapping, rape, or physical abuses. We all agree polygamy is a sexist institution, but I will stick to my strong belief that not only is there is no need for a law against it, such laws are not characteristic of a free country. Like it or not, this is their private family situation.

Priya Lynn
July 22nd, 2011 | LINK

Erin said “And the pressure of following tradition is not the same as forcing a woman to marry a man as one of multiple wives by kidnapping or raping her.”.

I’d agree that its not coercion to that degree, but as I see it its still coercion. You said it yourself – “pressured”.

As far as “private family situation” goes I think a child molestor might make the same claim.

You could be right Erin, I don’t know enough about it to say for sure one way or another. If the major mental health associations come out in favour of polygamous marriage I’d be much more likely to agree with you but at this point I’m not.

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