Will polygamy eventually be decriminalized?

Should a man and a man be able to wed? Is a woman in love with another woman any less deserving of the rights of marriage than a man in love with a woman? These are issues extremely hot in the media today. Gay marriage seems to be everywhere-the renegade judge in San Francisco, the legalization attempts in Oregon and other states, the federal constitutional amendments and the state constitutional amendments. Just as interesting as these events were the symbolic actions taken by city councils and other entities having no power over this issue.

Gay marriage is dividing our country. Certainly, this is an issue with huge moral and legal implications and should not be taken lightly. Marriage is a sacred vow and should not be simply left to whim and feelings. The idea of gay marriage must be examined and its consequences evaluated.

On March 21, 2004, The Salt Lake Tribune ran a front page article titled, “Polygamists see potential in recent marital movement.” Although it may seem outlandish that polygamy and homosexuality could be related, one of the legal implications of dismissing anti sodomy laws is the decriminalization of polygamous relationships. Although only first wives would be legally recognized, polygamous relationship would be decriminalized.

Polygamy is not like gay marriage. Most would consider gay marriage mostly harmless, even if personal beliefs believe it to be morally wrong. Polygamy, however, is a very different story. Polygamy encourages unhealthy relationships. It is simply not right for a man to dominate and control women. Polygamy is exactly that-the control and domination of women. It is unacceptable for a man to hold two women as his wives and to do with them as he pleases. Group dynamics and the interaction of people simply limit the special intimacy that would be possible between three people.

The largest problems with polygamy, however, are not necessarily that of the relationship in and of itself. In a perfect world with perfect people, polygamy would be acceptable. However, polygamy often leads to sexual and physical violence. The extremist groups that practice polygamy often have belief structures that place males in such a dominant role that any rights females hold are completely destroyed. For example, a man attempts to marry his 14-year-old second cousin and then proceeds to illegally and quite horribly “consummate” the marriage.

Many dangers exist because of the male domination held in these organizations. Most notably, perhaps, is the direct result of domination: intimidation. Intimidation and fear may quarrel with a woman’s instinct to deny a man to enter into a polygamous relationship or to escape when she no longer feels uncomfortable. The scare and fear tactics used by these extremist religions and cults is certainly enough to discourage one from leaving. Women may not be aware of the resources that can help them out of these situations. However, many organizations work hard to fight polygamy.

Tapestry Against Polygamy is a Salt Lake City-based organization working against polygamy. It is made up of many people, including those who have experienced polygamy first hand.

Their main focus is to “offer support and resources for refugees and advocate for changes to make the transition more conducive for those exiting the lifestyle.”

TAP has identified many of the signs of abuse in a polygamous relationship and is an excellent resource for those interested in helping with this cause.

Polygamy is also a problem because it encourages a lifestyle outside of the social norm. Keeping within a society is important because people establish guidelines for respect and propriety. Most groups practicing polygamy are organizations that remove themselves from society and therefore, the participants in the organizations lose touch with what is accepted as the rules of society.

This distance from the social norm adds to the problems faced with polygamy, as it may lead many adult and teen women to believe it is fine for them to be victimized by the dominating men in these relationships.

It is important that we realize the implications of our actions. Revoking anti-sodomy laws could seriously injure the ability to legally prosecute polygamists.

They pose serious danger to the people around them and should not be taken lightly.

If anti sodomy laws are revoked, laws should be put in place to protect women from the horrible practice of polygamy.

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