Comments about ‘Federal judge overturns part of Utah's law against polygamy’

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Published: Friday, Dec. 13 2013 9:25 p.m. MST

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sandy, ut

The early mormons who practiced polygamy in the 1800's didn't care that it was illegal, why would the church care now even if it was legal (it isn't).

Bountiful, UT

Go read the 90-plus page ruling. The judge did his homework! Unless we are ready to begin locking up adulterers, there is little way he could have judged otherwise. In this case, only the first marriage was legal. All others were "religious" marriages and not recognized by the state. In the state's eyes, this is a man who is committing adultery with the full support of his legal wife. The only difference is that all involved consider the relationships as marriages. If I take my girlfriend to the woods, we exchange vows, but don't do the proper paperwork with the county, I am not legally married. That is basically what Mr. Brown did. He had ceremonies with three additional women and lives with them as husband and wife, but they are not legal marriages. In the eyes of the state, they are not married therefore he only has one wife and three mistresses. Are there anti-adultery laws in the books? Bigamy is still against the law, "religious" polygamy or "legal" adultery is not.


There are a whole variety of issues that people should be concerned about regarding polygamy.

Many/most polygamists are experts at gaming the system. They apply for (and receive)welfare while doing their best to hide whatever assets or incomes they have. The polygamists in Colorado City even had their OWN welfare office because they had so many "claims", yet the assets of the church (who were supposedly taking care of them)were numbered in the tens of millions of dollars. It is very difficult to monitor these groups due to the closed society in which they exist.

The "lost boys" who are kicked out of the clan; usually with very little education. They basically become wards of the state even when they're 19 or 20.

What happens when the "husband" dies and (apparentally)his wife who has the marriage license gets ALL the assets?

If we're going to acknowledge and legalize polygamy, there are a whole variety of other laws that should be changed also.

Just "going along" with polygamy has gotten us the problems we are now seeing in Colorado city.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

Two things: same sex marriage is still between only two people and most laws still define marriage as between two people. Polygamists don't necessarily want legal marriage. They would then have to combine incomes and assets when filing for government benefits and paying taxes. It is better off financially to have one legal wife and then a number of "spiritual wives" because the spiritual wives are single parents and their incomes are probably low enough that they can get WIC, SNAP, and the holy grail, the Earned Income Credit on their federal tax returns.

Al Thepal
Salt Lake City, UT

This was a good decision by the judge. But I agree with some that plural marriage can potentially lead to problems so their should be some laws to avoid these things. Plural marriage in and of itself does not necessarily demean women. If a woman wants to marry a man who is already married to another woman or other women and the other woman or women consent, that is their choice. However, the problem with plural marriage is that it can lead to situations that are demeaning to women, and can lead to abuse of teenage girls, if it goes unchecked. Thus, I wouldn't be opposed to additional laws that increase the age of consent to around 21 for someone entering a plural marriage or something along those lines. This age would be set in stone regardless of what the parents say (ie a mother and father can't "allow" their daughter who is younger than this age enter a plural marriage. WIth all this said, I don't see why anyone would want to enter in to a plural marriage. My hands are full enough with one wife, and I am sure she would say the same about me!

boise, id

Cohabitation has not been illegal in the United States for the most part from the beginning. Even when the church practiced polygamy, multiple marriages weren't done, simply sealings in the hereafter. Couples have often chosen to simply cohabitate rather than marry legally for any number of reasons from tax benefit to not feeling tied down forever. I know what I believe is right in the eyes of God, but when I want to impose what I believe is correct as the law, I would be acting as Satan to take away others free agency. That I believe is the whole purpose of our mortal existence. We are told as a warning of the abominations of the last days, but we are told to steel ourselves and protect our loved ones. If we try to take others agency away we are acting contrary to heavenly father's plan for which a war was waged in heaven.

Salt Lake City, UT

I understand how people would think that "anything goes" now and I don't approve of that at all. But I am one that can understand marriage only if it involves TWO people. This practice is hurtful to women and has caused much heartache. It is just an excuse for adultery and has been a brainwashing technique to women making them think that they have to do it to "get to heaven". This is untrue and hurtful and I don't believe it will become the norm. After all, women are around 50% of the world and it only makes sense that each woman deserves her own spouse.

Saint George, UT

Founder effect and bottlenecks are only a genetic issue when the population becomes isolated (like Colorado City where you find many fumerase deficiency cases). As long as there is gene flow, there will be little to no founder effect or bottleneck genetics associated with having lots of offspring; the alleles dilute into the general population.

However, by making polygamy illegal, and forcing these groups to isolate themselves then you're absolutely right, you will run into a genetic bottleneck and in the right circumstances (like Colorado City) you get a founder affect and genetic issues such as fumerase deficiency. But if polygamy was able to be more open, the gene flow that comes with being able to mix with the rest of society would significantly reduce any type of founder affect and eliminate the bottleneck.

Also, look up "effective population size" and you'll see that virtually all organisms everywhere are minimizing the number of males that contribute to the population genetics; that's the whole point of sexual selection.

So ostracizing a group by making their behavior illegal is what exacerbates the problem; decriminalizing it would only help improve gene flow.

Saint George, UT

I compare polygamy to alcohol; I have no interest in either but I see prohibition as a bad idea. I'd love to see alcohol become non-existent, think of the lives it would save. But as history teaches us, outlawing something doesn't always work. In fact, in some cases it makes it worse.

So it is, I believe, with polygamy. If people were allowed to live polygamous lives, there wouldn't be so much isolation, so much oppression from within and demonizing of those outside the population and there wouldn't be the genetic problems. Hopefully, with time, there would be no more polygamous "communities" where people have been forced to gather so they can worship the way they want.

This is my opinion, of course.

layton, UT

RE; Diligent Dave, Polygamy continued despite the promise to abandon it. In 1899, then Apostle Heber J. Grant President would plead guilty to unlawful cohabitation and be fined $100. In 1906, sixth LDS President Joseph F. Smith "pleaded guilty before Judge M. L. Rictchie in the District Court Friday to the charge of cohabitating with four women in addition to his lawful wife." He was fined $300, the maximum allowed .

RE: rick122948 Jesus, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, … “you shall not commit adultery”… , honor your Father and Mother(not Mothers), Mt 19:17-19. God distinguishes father and mother from all other persons on earth, chooses them and sets them next to Himself, occupying the highest place in our lives next to God. Commandments not suggestions.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

The LDS Church isn't going to recognize or support polygamy. Not going to happen. Don't get your hopes up if you are a critic and would love to have one more thing to throw rocks at the Church for, or if you are a man who secretly would desire such a thing.

Ain't gonna happen.

Kalispell, MT

I find it interesting that the impetus for Utah's anti-polygamy law was...........Federal law. 150 years (give or take) later, the impetus for over-turning Utah's anti-polygamy law is.....Federal law. So have the courts ever ruled on the constitutionality of the Edmunds-Tucker act which was passed for the express purpose of outlawing polygamy as practiced by the LDS church at the end of the 19th century?

Salt Lake City, Utah

All government attempts to control who mutually consenting adults love, how they experience passion, and how they choose to associate are doomed to fail as a practical matter. We should all respect each consenting adult's free agency in choosing his/her individual path. We should hope that all people experience true love, great romance and passion. I have been blessed to find those experience within a traditional marriage. I am not so narrow-minded however to believe that my path chosen path is the only way. I do not believe it is my right, or the govenment's to impose that structure on others. If you have experienced: love, romance and passion in your life you should not want it withheld from anyone else.

Everyone Gets a Gun
Salt Lake City, UT

So what’s changed? After and years of distancing itself from polygamy the CoJCoLDS is not about to embrace polygamy. Utah won’t embrace same-sex marriage --and other than a very rare exception -- Utah will continue the non-enforcement of the polygamy laws on the books.
Will Utah appeal the decision? A non-appeal would maintain the status quo. (Polygamy? What polygamy? Not us.) A high profile appeal would only spotlight Utah’s peculiar institution.

Draper, UT

@Contrariusier: I disagree with your last statement. If polygamy were legalized, why would it be any more difficult for a woman to get out of a plural marriage than it would be for her to divorce in a monogamous marriage?

Furthermore, your inference that incest, abuse, rape, etc. is synonymous with plural marriage is also lacking any sort of factual basis. There is no reason to conclude that plural marriage would breed such behavior any more than monogamous relationships would. Those sorts of people simply are, regardless of the sort of relationship they are in. I know several polygamist families who have loving and nurturing relationships with their spouses and children, and tying words like "incest" to these relationships seems quite unfair and unjustified. To claim that gay marriage is "safer" than a polygamous marriage for these reasons seems as ignorant as those who claim that all gay men are child molesters, don't you think?

Larry Chandler

In another case Utah is defending the right of religious people to bypass secular law, defending the right of a baker to not have to provide a wedding cake to a gay couple. If this approach works, wouldn't the Fundamentalists claim their religious rights are being violated if they are not permitted to actually marry more than one person?

York, SC

It is just wrong.

Los Angeles, CA

The reality is that this is not only opening the door for men with multiple wives, but women that want multiple husbands. Apparently, it's not legal for multiple 'legal marriages.' This ruling only at least right now allows them to openly cohabitate in the various groups or life styles without recriminations. This is going to be a legal mess when these groups begin to separate, and their are children and properties connected to 'all.'

Clifton Palmer McLendon
Gilmer, TX

The only proper marriage is between one man and one woman, because that is what the Lord has decreed in our time.

Comes the day He approves of plural marriage, or marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, He will so state through His prophet.

The only proper thing for anyone who disagrees to do is to take it up with the Lord Himself, not with any mortal or group of mortals.

Saratoga Springs, UT

Polygamy is not, in and of itself, immoral or evil. Some of the great prophets of the Old Testament, including Abraham and Jacob, had more than one wife, as well as some of the modern prophets.

I personally believe that plural marriage was given to the early saints to help prepare them for the eternities, as that is the kind of union that will be practiced there.

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