Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Ally For the Freedom to Polygamous Marriage

I’ve been meaning to get around at looking at how TLC’s “Sister Wives” show has been received. I’m not doing that yet. However, the show and the legal fallout did prompt this write-up by Sara on the feminist blog Silence is Betrayal.

While I understand the legal reasons for differentiating between relationships and common law marriages (for example, a common law partner can seek spousal support), I was upset that the investigation could lead to the prosecution of freely consenting adults. All five were over the age of 18 and each consented to enter into this kind of relationship. With so many larger issues affecting society, why should the State care about what happens between consenting adults? By maintaining the ban on polygamous marriage, we are continuing to force these families to be closeted and to leave non-legally married spouses without important rights and protections that come with marriage.

Bring people out of the shadows. This will bring more protection to those who are being abused, and more people will see that most are not being being abused, but having a warm family life.

For the majority of states, a marriage license can be given to any male and female couple over the age of 18.

Almost true, but not quite. Some states prevent first cousins and any relatives closer than that from marrying. Virtually all states prevent all closer relatives from marrying, and most of them even prosecute them for having consensual sex. But I understand the focus of the write-up is on poly.

There have previously been sodomy laws and even adultery laws used to prosecute the behavior of consenting adults, but over time we've matured to see these as personal matters and not matters for the State to intervene on. So why can't we extend that to all sexual minorities?

We can and we should.

Until then, the State should stop playing morality police. Utah and other states should leave alone what consenting adults choose to do and focus their time and money on more important issues. There are an estimated 38,000 fundamentalist Mormon polygynist marriages currently in Utah today, many who are closeted and live in fear of being outed. We don't have to necessarily like these kinds of relationships or choose to enter into one ourselves, but we should let them live freely.

I urge you to read the whole write-up. It displays clarity and intelligence that is so rare in today’s discussion of marriage.
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