Thursday, January 13, 2011

Carolyn Jessop’s Testimony Supports Freedom to Marry

Carolyn Jessop testified in the Canadian poly trial, claiming that she lived in a polygynous community that had a climate of fear and abuse. The community was in Arizona, however, not Canada.

When she was 18, she was forced to marry a 50-year-old man she didn't know and who already had three wives. She eventually had eight children with him, Jessop said.

Nobody should be forced to marry. Those who support full marriage equality support the requirement of the consent of all spouses.

Still, Jessop said, polygamy should be decriminalized. She said neither the courts nor the police are enforcing the polygamy law, and she hopes decriminalizing the practice would at least raise the possibility women and children living in polygamy could get help.

She is right about this. If there is abuse, it will be easier for the authorities to stop the abusers if the law hasn’t already made criminals out of the victims.

It is entirely possible that there are problematic communities in which polygyny is practiced. That doesn’t mean polygyny, or polygamy in general, is the problem. Any more than the conclusions that monogamy must be criminalized because of domestic violence in those marriages.
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