Brady Williams, a progressive philosophy student and practicing polygamist whose family was featured on TLC’s My Five Wives, views the recent ruling in the case of Brown v. Buhman, also known as the Sister Wives case, as opportunity for the polygamist community to change their ways.
"We are no longer considered criminals by the courts," wrote Williams in a statement he made on Facebook and shared with Approaching Justice. "Let’s prove that we are deserving of that assessment by abandoning those darker practices of traditional polygamy that have haunted us for so long."
"Indeed it is a momentous and welcome ruling for all polygamists, but where does this leave the polygamist community?" Williams asked.
"Polygamists, fundamentalist polygamists in particular, need to change their ways!" declared Williams. In particular, Williams condemned in his statement practices such as child brides, the marrying off of widows and divorcees without consent, and arranged marriages.
"Fundamentalists must rise up and abolish this damnable practice," Williams said of the practice of child brides. "I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that a father would permit his 14 year old daughter to be married off to a 50 year old man who is supposedly wizened and qualified by his priesthood authority."
Williams condemned religious-based misogyny amongst polygamists in terms that the Ordain Women movement and other religious feminists might appreciate.
"The argument is made by many polygamist women that, as they hold this same priesthood ‘through’ their husband, accompanied with the ability to bear children, they are made equal with their husband," said Williams. "This thinking needs to end. Women don’t need, ‘to be made equal’ They always already are. Women are equal in every meaningful way. They are not a sub class to be utilized by men…rather, they should occupy a place as equals with no qualifiers included."
Williams notes that misogyny "is not peculiar to polygamy."
"Monogamist as well as polygamist men are very good at restricting the rights of women," wrote Williams "Studies abound testifying to the inequalities in gender power distribution throughout all cultures and societies in the US. This does not excuse the polygamist culture, rather, it serves as evidence that things need to change."
William ends his statement with a call for a "New Polygamy" that rejects some of the "traditions of my fathers" by embracing equality and rejecting fear.
"My intent is that all polygamists, everywhere use their new found freedom as a wake-up call," wrote Williams in the conclusion of his statement. "Let it energize you to new levels of awakening. Find the courage to transform yourselves into agents of change. Become noble ambassadors of justice and peace in this world by embracing the ways love and equality as taught by our prime exemplar, Jesus Christ."
Born into a Mormon family, William was not familiar with polygamy until he was 16 when his family joined a faction of Mormonism that embraced polygamy. Brady and his family were part of that church until he was 34 and they currently do not associate with any particular religion or church. In addition to pursuing his degree in philosophy, he is also a project manager for his brother’s construction business.
If you have not yet met the William’s family, check out the trailer and pilot to My Five Wives.