Judge Strikes Down Part of Utah Anti-Bigamy Law; ‘Slippery Slope’ Gay-Marriage Opponents Have a Field Day

United States District Court judge Clarke Waddoups got a lot of people’s attention yesterday by striking down a portion of the Utah anti-polygamy ordinance as unconstitutional.

Readers who get their news by skimming the headlines aren’t going to get this one, because what happened requires ten seconds of careful reading.

(Image via PopSugar)

The court left the part of the law intact that says you can only be legally married — with a license — to one person at a time. If you’re already married, obtaining any subsequent license is still illegal. Waddoups’ ruling doesn’t change that. So why the handwringing and the cries of “Gomorrah”?

Utah Code Ann. § 76-7-101(1) (2013) 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.”

It’s only the second part, the phrase I bolded, that the District Court found unconstitutional. And with good reason: Mormon or not, it’s none of the government’s business who individuals choose to live with.

The case is Brown v. Buhman, and Waddoups’ 91-page ruling is here.

TL;DR: Polygamy — the kind theoretically sanctioned by the government, with marriage licenses — is still against the law.

David Kopel, writing for law professor’s Eugene Volokh‘s blog, breaks it down:

Judge Waddoups upholds the first part, about marrying a second person, as a straightforward application of Reynolds. If X has a marriage license to A, then X can’t obtain a marriage license to B. If X tricks a county clerk into issuing him a marriage license for B, then X [is] guilty of bigamy. This is the same in Utah as everywhere else in the United States. Thus, the State of Utah has no obligation to treat X+A+B as all being married. The plaintiffs in Brown sought no legal recognition for plural marriage.

Jazz Shaw on the conservative blog Hot Air also has a surprisingly level-headed, no-hysteria take:

The court didn’t strike down rules against actual polygamy — the practice of being licensed and married to more than one spouse — but rather laws prohibiting one from saying they are married to additional people. You can say you’re married to your lawn mower, but that doesn’t mean the government is going to recognize it or grant you any benefits based on it.

But not everyone gets it. For culture warriors who’ve been battling gay marriage, yesterday’s ruling is like manna from heaven — a perfect opportunity to advance their slippery-slope argument and to crow “I told you so.”

Consider Stephen Bainbridge, who, his UCLA law credentials notwithstanding, took to Twitter to inform the world the sky is falling:

… and who wrote on his blog:

You have got to be fraking kidding me. … Next stop on the slippery slope express, I assume, will be consensual adult incest marriages.

At least Bainbridge didn’t debase himself with the “now-pedophiles-will-be-marrying-toddlers” argument. For that, we turn to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer:

Et cetera. I’d propose a drinking game (one shot for every upcoming spiteful comment on the inevitability of marriage between man and penguin, woman and goat, etc.), but I’m afraid we’d all die of alcohol poisoning.

Blogger Eric Ethington put his finger on the main issue:

The struggle for same-sex marriage has only been, and will continue to only be about one thing: equality — that joyful little word that fills our hearts and keeps us pushing. It’s about leveling the playing field and being able to say without any doubt that no other human being in our country has rights that we do not. We were born Gay, or Lesbian, or Bisexual, or Trans*, and we will always be so. We have every bit the same right to marry the person we fall in love with that our neighbors have.

Polygamy? It’s not an innate characteristic, it’s a choice. The struggle for polygamy is not about equality, but about privacy. It’s a fight to keep government away from the choices of consenting adults. It’s an important distinction to make.

And an important discussion to have. Fischer, Bainbridge, et al are invited to take part — as soon as they stop trying to use the limited, sensible polygamy ruling to whip their constituents into another moral panic.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Well, it’s a tiny nudge towards the sensible position of the state recognizing that actual families may be richer and more complex than the limitations of recent tradition allow for.

  • Stacy Thacker

    I for one am actually okay with legal polygamy as long as all parties are consenting adults. So this is definitely okay in my book.

    Seems like the bible thumpers would be okay with it since it adheres to all their literal bible principles. The bible is full of polygamy.

  • 3lemenope

    Polygamy? It’s not an innate characteristic, it’s a choice.

    Polygamy itself (being intrinsically attached to marriage, a social construct), perhaps, but it could be responsive to a more fundamental biological orientation to deviate from the predominant pair-bonding model, and so that deviation may not be entirely a volitional choice. At the least, some people seem to be driven, despite heavy social and personal cost, to seek multiple sexual partners while others do not seem to have that drive. If one were able to control for the large social subsidies that exist for monogamy and marital fidelity, I suspect that one would find a somewhat weak overall species commitment to lifelong pair-bonding.

  • JT Rager

    For me, a gay-equality advocate, it is difficult for me to state that I don’t see a problem with polygamy. I really don’t have a problem, but again it is the “slippery slope” anti-gay arguers who will be prone to outcry as evidenced in this post. To the religious right anything other than heteronormative male-female marriage that can never be divorced is automatically bad because their book says so. It’s like they can’t see any reasons why alternatives may be good, bad, or just ok. The concept of consent comes to mind easily.

  • Kira

    How can anybody blame this on gay marriage? Utah doesn’t have marriage equality, or eve n civil unions. They’d be better off blaming it on heterosexual marriage, Mormonism and the Bible.

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor

    He forgot to add having sex with that hot bitch down the street. How could any normal man so no to that?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    So how do you recommend cleaning tea out of a keyboard?

  • Garret Shane Brown

    Is polygamy even a bad thing? I don’t see a problem with it, however unrealistic I think it might be.

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I would replace the keyboard :-)

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    It’s just really legally complicated. The only reason I think it’s fine to keep it illegal is that the legal headaches from legalizing it are … immense. Really, really big. Ethically, I see no issues whatsoever with polyamory as practiced by consenting adults.

    For example, if A and B are both married to C, who is also married to D, what is D’s legal relationship to A and B? If A, B, C, and D are all married to each other, and A gestates and bears a child, who is primarily raised by C, but whose biological father is B, and D divorces the group and still wants some custody rights- does D get any? How many? And so on, and so on, and so on.

  • Alice

    And fundies usually love an excuse to blame co-habitating straight couples for everything; I can’t believe they passed this one up.

  • momtarkle

    Yeah, mammals go everywhere from one night stands, to pair up ’til the kids leave home, to one on one together for life, to male led harems, to everybody does everybody else. (I’m not talking just humans here.) Only people have laws to govern marriage.

  • Whitney

    I have this particularly sneaky friend, who has more than once suggested that the government should just flat get out of marriage entirely. Rip it out of the tax code, pull it out of all other legal entanglements, and go on from there. The only place he’d leave it in is in anti-discrimination laws.

    He might be on to something here. I still haven’t decided.

  • Terry Firma

    That’s the libertarian position, which I’m very much drawn to in this case (as I often am when it comes to socio-political rather than economic issues — prostitution, the drug war, and so on). What’s “sneaky” about it, or about your friend?

  • blondein_tokyo

    A common mistake is to conflate polyamory and polygamy. Polygamy is when a man marries several women. Most often, it’s religiously or culturally inspired. And, it’s illegal since you cannot marry more than one person.

    Polyamory on the other hand, is when consenting adults of either gender have outside romantic sexual relationships. It’s a personal choice made by people who do not believe in monogamy, and it has nothing to do with either religion or culture. Additionally, they may or may not be married to one of their partners.

    I’m polyamorus, but not polygamous. My bf has a wife, and his wife has a bf. I’m not married to anyone.

    I personally don’t believe in marriage, but I do think the government should not have the right to discriminate in regards to who can marry whom.

    I do, however, have some ethical problems with polygamy considering that it is religiously inspired. Those born into polygamous societies, particularly women, often grow up believing it is not a choice but an edict from their god. If you grow up being told that you MUST allow your partner to marry other women, is it truly consensual?

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    I find myself more drawn to a socialist position on that sort of thing. Decriminalize, of course, and straight-up legalize in the case of prostitution, but still regulate and license and all those other government “intrusions” in the market. For drugs, high taxes, safety inspections, etc.

    The libertarian position is government getting out entirely. Libertarianism just is not a very realistic or healthy view of the world IMO because it’s based on laissez faire capitalism, which is pretty bad.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Eh, I consider polygamy and polyandry to be subsets of polyamory. Some people advocate for polyamorous relationships to have the option to be government-licensed, just like monogamous marriage. I have no ethical problems with the idea, but the legal headaches are immense.

    But if a bunch of adult, consenting women wanted to marry the same man, and he wanted to marry them, that is the exact same ethically as your arrangement. It’s all just humans dealing with other humans in the ways that work for them.

  • baal

    I know women who keep harems of men…just sayin. I usually think of humans as mostly monogamous. With the non-paternity rate ~10%, there is a lot of extramaritial sex going on.

  • baal

    I don’t really find it all that hard conceptually to have a series of bilaterial marriages (no matter how many eventually are married) and the courts are adequate to the divvying up stuff problem as well as multiple party child visitation.

  • Terry Firma

    Which left-wing U.S. administration has been for those things, and followed through on its own campaign promises in that regard?

    No socialist government I’m aware of has ever legalized drugs, prostitution, or curtailed the surveillance state and government spying on its own citizens — or even held the line on free speech.

    I think we’d be a helluva lot freer under Gary Johnson than under George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    I’m … not so confident of that. They get just two parties wrong an awful lot of the time. Introducing additional complexities doesn’t seem like a great idea.

  • KrisDStar

    D has no legal relationship to A and B.
    D doesn’t, not biological, unless agreed upon by bio parents.
    There are some countries that allow up to three parents to be named at birth, on the birth certificate. So, that would help settle child sharing disputes.
    It’s really not THAT complicated.

  • baal

    Get two parents with kids by prior spouses and new shared kids and it’s nearly the same.

    I don’t see the courts getting confused by who is the parent or litigants wrong that often…and that’s why you have attorneys. Other governmental entities are more likely to get confused.

  • blondein_tokyo

    But by speaking so, you are in essence allowing ignorance about what polyamory actually IS to continue unabated.

    Now, how do you think it makes me feel to continuously have my open, honest, ethical, mutually-consensual egalitarian relationship conflated with the barbaric practice of forcing people into relationships that comply with their religious tradtions? A practice where the women are submissive to their husband and have no say in whether or not he has other wives?

    If you guessed “not good” then you guessed right.

    It gets quite tiring to keep having to explain the difference to people, only to have them turn around and try to tell me they are the same. They are not anywhere *near* the same.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Well, social democrat. Socialism itself is a pretty poor economic and political system, and I should have clarified that. I’d like to point out that the US doesn’t actually have a functional political left wing. The Democrats are a center-right party, and the Republicans are an extreme-right party. No set of people on the right side of the political spectrum is going to do those things. We’d need a “radical” like Bernie Sanders (still center-left in Europe, not even far left, let alone radical left) to do that, and yeah … that’s not gonna happen.

    I’m not so sure I’d like a Gary Johnson administration in a lot of ways, but he certainly would’ve been better than Bush. And while Obama has been terrible on civil liberties, and yeah, that’s really really important, I consider my own personal rights to my own personal body rather important too. Gary Johnson ran as a Republican. He’d be too beholden to his party on the “unimportant” stuff like abortion rights and women’s health and environmental protection and financial regulation. I think he’d have been a perfectly okay president, and certainly one I could have lived with, but the R after his name means I could never in good conscience vote for him. He chose to align himself with the party that terrifies me and objectifies me and deregulates everything and clearly doesn’t care about people at all.

    Not to mention that what we need really, truly is a big dose of Keynesianism right now, and I don’t think Gary Johnson would deliver on that either. He’s ideologically opposed to the very idea.

  • cary_w

    Unfortunately that’s not the reality where polygamist families exist. The first wives have the legal marriage and all the legal rights to the family assets, subsequent wives have nothing. If they leave the family they usually get nothing and have no legal grounds for claiming any assets or receiving alimony or anything. One of the main arguments for legalizing polygamy is to give these non-legal “wives” the right to a divorce and the legal right to a portion of the shared property.

  • Conuly

    “You have got to be fraking kidding me. … Next stop on the slippery slope express, I assume, will be consensual adult incest marriages.”

    It depends on how we define incest. If we’re talking first cousin marriages, they’re already legal in many states and much of the world outside the US.

  • Agni Ashwin

    “Polygamy is when a man marries several women.”

    Or when one woman is married to several men.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Serial monogamy is still easier for the courts to deal with, and again, they don’t do so well with complicated cases like that.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Ah, but I was talking about consensual polygamy. It is possible, you know. There is nothing inherently wrong with polygamy- the lack of consent in religiously enforced polygamy is the issue. And the misogyny. And the submission doctrine. But one man, many women is a perfectly valid subset of polyamory, as you well know (or at least damned well should!), so long as everyone is a fully informed, consenting adult.

    How do you think it makes me feel to know that you failed entirely to read what I actually said, and actually think that I’m ignorant about polyamory? If you guess “not good” then you guessed right. I get so tired of explaining to people to whom I have already explained that informed consenting adults only need apply for all forms of polyamory, but that yes, polygamy is indeed a form of polyamory.

  • Agni Ashwin

    Well, most Christians believe serial polygamy is OK anyways.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Nah, that’s polyandry.

  • cary_w

    “If you grow up being told that you MUST allow your partner to marry other women, is it truly consensual?”

    As long as she’s an adult, then yes, it is consensual. As uncomfortable as it may feel to all of us, it’s even more uncomfortable to be telling these women they MUST think. It’s wrong for their husbands to take on another wife, or that they shouldn’t believe what they want to believe. While it’s true that there is a lot of abuse and coercion in polygamist communities, there are still many that are happy and healthy. The Brown family is an example of one where I’m sure all the wives will insist they are there by choice and love their situation. Who are you to tell them they are wrong about their own feelings?

  • blondein_tokyo

    I read your post completely, and I do understand your point of view. The reason I reject it is because not all non-monogamous relationships are the same, and it is inaccurate to put them all under the term “polyamory”.

    By using “polyamory” as an umbrella term and then saying that polygamy is a “subset” of poyamory, you are basically saying that polygamy is a TYPE of polyamory, when it is not.

    The only umbrella term that would fit both and be accurate would be “non-monogamous”.

    Polyamory, polyandry, polygamy, swingers, et al have their own terms because those in such relationships need them in order to make clear to everyone what the nature of the relationship actually IS.

    It’s kind of like saying “bisexual” is a subset of “homosexual”, and making it seem like it’s okay to call all bisexuals “homosexual” or all gays “bisexual”.

    We use labels to identify ourselves, because our self-identity is *important*. You should respect that.

  • blondein_tokyo

    No, when one woman marries several men it is “polyandry”. It is much less common, and is usually culturally rather than religiously based.

  • cary_w

    And another point, as far as the multiple party child visitation, it doesn’t happen. In many polygamist families one or two of the wives do the majority of child care for all the kids while the other wives work. But the legal rights to raise the children is only between biological parents, so the woman who raises another wife’s child has no right to visit that child if the polygamist marriage splits up. Bad things happen when these marriages fall apart, families are torn apart and kids who were raised as siblings are separated, and legally there’s not much that can be done about it until polygamy is legalized.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Does polyamory not just mean a non-monogamous relationship, of which there are many types? That is the only context in which I have ever seen it used, including by people in various types of poly relationships. They then further clarify their own personal relationship.

    I have never heard anyone argue that some types of non-monogamous relationships aren’t polyamorous.

  • blondein_tokyo

    That is a very good point. i still have ethical problems with the religious and non-egalitarian aspect of polygamy, but the way adults chose to live their lives is none of my business. If legalizing it will give some choices back to the women, then I am all for it.

  • cary_w

    Socially, it’s not an inherently bad thing, but as things stand today, it’s a bad deal for the wives who are not legally married to the husband because they have none of the rights of a legal wife. They can be left with nothing if they leave the marriage because they have no legal status, no right to shared property or alimony or any of the things you can get with a legal divorce. The right to a divorce is huge, it’s not happy, but it’s really one of the main thing gays are fighting for when they fight for the right to marry.

  • cary_w

    Exactly, I have ethical problems with most of the polygamist communities I know of in Utah because they are fraught with abuse, coercion and fraud. I don’t have a problem with polygamy between consenting adults. Those are two separate issues that just happen to both involve polygamy.

  • Agni Ashwin

    Polyandry is a form of polygamy.

    Polygyny is the form of polygamy in which one man marries several women.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Non-monogamy simply means that outside *sexual* relationships are allowed, and the term doesn’t define those relationships any further. As such, it is a good umbrella term for both a-romantic and romantic sexual relationships.

    Polygamy is defined by a man being married to several women. Further, polygamy is not egalitarian, as the women do not have the choice to marry other men, and often don’t have any say over the husband bringing other wives into the family.

    Polyamory on the other hand, isn’t defined by marriage. A person can be single and polyamorous. It is also perfectly egalitarian- that is, women AND men can have outside sexual and romantic relationships. Often, their partner(s) have veto power over whether more people can be brought into the relationship.

    There ARE subsets of polyamory, but polygamy isn’t one.

    An example of a subset of polyamory is “closed polyamory” where there is no outside sexual or romantic contact allowed outside the main relationship. That is, a triad or quad who only have relations with each other.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Why do you think polygamy has to be inherently coercive?

  • blondein_tokyo

    ^^ Yes. Polygamy is the umbrella term for plural marriage. Polygyny is a man marrying several women; polyandry involves a woman marrying several men.

    Polygamy (from πολύς γάμος polys gamos, translated literally in Late Greek as “many married”)[1] is a marriage which includes more than two partners.[1] When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, the relationship is called polygyny; and when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry.

    But people often use “polygamy” instead of “polygyny” because it’s more common, so that is the term that has been popularized and is most commonly used.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Oh, and I’ve known plenty of poly people who identified as poly who didn’t have emotional connections with their lovers, or whose partners didn’t have veto power (though of course, some did). Everything you’re defining as non-monogamous, I’ve heard poly people call, well, poly.

  • blondein_tokyo

    I don’t think it is *inherently* coercive. In cases where a person has been brought up to freely believe what they like, and then later in life, as an adult capable of making an informed, conscious choice, decides to be in a polygamous relationship, it is obviously not coercive.

    However, the vast majority of polygamous relationships are religious in nature – they have been brought up with the belief that polygamy is an edict from their god. If you firmly believe that rejecting polygamy means that you that you will burn in hell, and/or you know you will be completely rejected by your entire family or society that you live in, the choice is not freely made.

    This leaves us with an ethical dilemma in regards to polygamy. Can a
    person who has been brought up with the idea that polygamy is their
    duty and an obligation *really* make a free choice in choosing it? It is an interesting
    question, and I am not entirely sure I know the right answer.

    And in some countries where polygamy is practiced, women are not given freedom of choice in marriage at all. In those cases the answer to the question of it being coercive is a quite clear “yes”.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    So basically, polygamy isn’t inherently coercive, but religion and misogyny can cause it (like any form of marriage, including all forms of poly and monogamy) to become so. And because of this, you’ve been arguing stridently that polygamy isn’t a form of polyamory at all, even though the problem isn’t the configuration of the relationship. Of course polygamy can be coercive. So can any relationship. That’s not an argument to condemn all relationships, though.

    If you firmly believe that rejecting polygamy means that you that you will burn in hell, and/or you know you will be completely rejected by your entire family or society that you live in, the choice is not freely made.

    This is true, but also irrelevant. People get told the hell thing about a lot of things. Many of them get past it, some remain trapped by it. That doesn’t mean we argue that those who tithe 10% are illegally coerced into doing so, nor do we support making tithing illegal.

  • blondein_tokyo

    If they are an adult then yes- is consensual, but only by a very narrow definition of consent. The question is, is it *informed* consent, and is it *freely given*? In other words, do they realize they have another choice, and have they been told they can make another choice freely, without fear of any kind of punishment or retribution?

    If you are told you will burn in hell (when you do believe in hell) or if you know that rejecting this belief would mean that your family, village, or the society in which you live would completely reject you and you would be banished (as can be the case) is the consent freely given?

    When a person is taught something from when they are small children, they do not have a choice in believing it. They are, in essence, being taught beliefs that will eventually inform their life decisions. And the ones who grow up to eventually reject the belief are often punished for it in
    some way.

    Whether or not they are healthy or happy is not an
    issue. I’m sure many of them are. The issue is one of free consent, and I am not at all sure that can be possible when one is taught a belief from a young age.

    That’s why I have an ethical problem with polygamy. It’s not because I am uncomfortable with the idea of multiple partners – I am polyamorus myself- it’s because I can’t see how a person can truly give consent freely if they have been brought up to believe that it is not a choice, but a fact of life.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Would you argue that monogamous relationships are ethically problematic too then? Most people are brought up “to believe that it is not a choice, but a fact of life.”

  • joey_in_NC

    Polygamy? It’s not an innate characteristic, it’s a choice. The struggle for polygamy is not about equality, but about privacy.

    No, given the the context, it is about ‘equality’…since the discussion concerns what relationships are to be recognized by the state as ‘marriage’. People who are not in favor of the state recognizing polygamous marriage are not for ‘marriage equality’, since they are not in favor of the state recognizing the marriage of A, B, and C, but only that of D and E.

  • Anat

    There are many monogamous marriages that aren’t egalitarian. There are subcultures that object to egalitarianism in marriage. Is that a reason to object to monogamous marriage?

  • Ella Warnock

    They also don’t like straight married couples who choose not to procreate.

  • blondein_tokyo

    No. The problem is that both the configuration of the relationships and the nature of the relationships are radically different.

    As for configuration, polygamy, or more correctly polygyny, is defined as a “straight man marrying more than one straight woman”. Polyamory, on the other hand, is “multiple romantic relationships between people of any sexual orientation or gender who may or may not be married.”

    As for the nature of the relationship, I argue that polygyny is often coercive, while polyamory is never coercive. By it’s definition, which is “consensual non-monogamy”, it *cannot* be coercive. If one partner does not consent, it is not polyamory- it is cheating.

    Thus, due to it’s structure AND Since polygyny cannot *always* be said to be consensual, polygyny cannot be said to be under an umbrella called “polyamory.”

    Both however, can be said to be under the umbrella of “non-monogamy”. In fact, cheating can be under “non-monogamy”, because non-monogamy is not
    defined by consent.

    The two concepts are *radically* different and should *not* be conflated, which is what happens when you try to say that polygyny is a subset of polyamory. I utterly reject that notion.

    Additional to that, I think people’s labels for themselves should be respected. You cannot, for example, tell a bisexual person that they ought to call themselves “homosexual” just because both homosexuals and bisexuals have sexual and romantic relationships with the same sex. The word “bisexual” is specific to one set of experiences that is not adequately covered by the term “homosexual”. It is offensive to say the least to insist on using your own personal labels for people who are trying to carve out a niche for themselves so that they can feel recognized for their own unique characteristics. For that reason alone, I think it is perfectly reasonable to say that polyamory should *not* be used as an umbrella term for *all* non-monogamous romantic relationships.

    And I have never argued that polygamy, of any type, should be illegal. I haven’t actually decided the answer to that question for myself, because while I see a lot of ethical problems with polygamy, I also do not think the government should have any hand in deciding these things for people, so I am still undecided on that issue.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Yes, I do think it is ethically problematic that people are led to believe that monogamy is their only choice, and it is definitely wrong that people are quite often condemned if they reject monogamy, or if they reject marriage all together.

    I do think polygyny is more problematic, however, because in the majority of polygymous societies, men can chose to marry only one woman- but women cannot chose to marry only one man. Only the man has the choice in the matter, so it is much more problematic and thus I have more trouble with the idea of socially reinforced polygamy than socially reinforced monogamy. No one stronger group of people is socially enforcing monogamy on another weaker group of people, while they themselves are free to make another choice.

    You see, I don’t really believe in marriage at all. I find all kinds of ethical problems with the concept. But of course, that does not mean I think it should be illegal. I’m a proponent of freedom, and that means letting people be free to do things that I do not personally agree with.

    I’m a vegetarian, and I don’t agree with eating meat. But that doesn’t mean I think meat-eating should be outlawed.

    Although I do know some radical vegans who would be okay with that….LOL.

  • blondein_tokyo

    Yes, it is, actually. :) Even though nowadays marriage is mostly egalitarian, there still exists the idea that once married, the wife belongs to the husband. She takes his name, and it is predominantly assumed that he is the head of the household. That is sexist, and I utterly reject the concept, and thus, I utterly reject marriage.

    I also don’t like the very concept of marriage because I think binding yourself to one person, and one person only, goes against nature. Socially reinforcing something that is inherently unnatural is unethical. We basically are setting people up to fail, and then condemning them when they do fail. That is, when they either cheat on their partner or get divorced.

    But that does not mean I think it should be illegal. Objecting to something is not akin to thinking it should be illegal for everyone. I can reject marriage myself whilst respecting other people’s right to get married, because I know not everyone thinks like me.

  • Rob P

    Something struck me as odd about the wording of the first part of the law. It reads “A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife …” So HE can have a HUSBAND? I guess gay men can marry in Utah then.

  • poose

    I have to add my voice to the “meh” side of the argument. I’m not against bigamy or polyamoury, but the bigamists down Utah way have a demonstrated history of abusing the child welfare system and other forms of public assistance to assist in financing their lives.

    From the LA times article on the high cost of bigamy on the state: http://articles.latimes.com/2001/sep/09/news/mn-43824

    ” Widespread reliance on welfare. In the tiny town of Hildale, for example, along the Utah-Arizona border, as many as 50% of the residents are on public assistance, according to state and federal records. The fraud occurs when plural wives claim they don’t know the whereabouts of their children’s father.”

    I know this paints genuine mothers whom use public assistance for legitimate reasons-but in the bigamy case the use of the system is systemic, and being used to further a religious ideal.

  • James Stevenson

    You cannot unsee what has been seen D:

  • Jeff

    I’d like to sign up to lead the next expedition down into the moral abyss. According to these maroon’s, there seems to be lots of job openings…

  • Alierias

    It’s always been about CONSENTING adults. I, for one, would be very hard pressed to imagine sharing my husband with a “sister-wife” not of MY choosing; but hey, that’s where the “consenting” part comes in. These women have consented to it, hopefully freely consented, and it’s none of anyone’s business but their own.
    I don’t like it, but *I* don’t have to…

  • Alierias

    Go women! That’s called polyandry BTW

  • Alierias

    Yeah, where WAS that coffee-spit warning ??!!
    We have a washable keyboard — cause the hubby and the kid are slobs!