Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Legalize polygamy? [Most commented]

August 1, 2011 |  3:07 pm

Members of a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism the believe polygamy is the key to heaven

Could polygamy become legalized in the United States? Not anytime soon, the editorial board wrote Sunday. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley’s challenge to Utah’s anti-polygamy laws does not seek to legalize polygamy, but simply to decriminalize it. His clients, Kodi Brown, his legal wife Meri Brown and three other “sister wives,” fear prosecution for their lifestyle. Turley cites the 2003 Lawrence vs. Texas case, in which the Supreme Court decided that homosexual practices between consenting adults cannot be regulated.

[Justice Anthony M.] Kennedy emphasized in Lawrence that same-sex marriage wasn't before the court. Similarly, in an interview with the New York Times, Turley suggested that decriminalizing polygamy will not inevitably lead to a movement for polygamous marriage. But language addressed to one issue often surfaces in cases dealing with others. When Massachusetts' highest court decided to strike down the state's limitation of marriage to heterosexual couples, it cited the Lawrence opinion.


But, like Lawrence, a ruling sympathetic to unconventional sexual behavior could plant the seeds of a future campaign for full marriage equality. In that case, governments would have to prove that it's rational to limit marriage to two individuals, homosexual or heterosexual. That might seem obvious, but so, at one time, did the argument that marriage should be confined to opposite-sex couples.

The editorial sparked an intense debate between readers on the discussion board about the difference -- is there one? -- between justifying polygamy and same-sex marriage.

Consenting adults should have free will

As a gay man I support gay marriage; no shocker there. But when I thought about my rights and the arguments against them I had to make sure I was not being a hypocrite. 

The main arguments against gay rights usually boil down to biblically dubious passages used to support a knee jerk disgust reaction to the thought of homosexuality. To me any person has the right to be revolted by what they like, but not the right to regulate others lives.

Apply this to polygamy, incest, and bestiality. What gives anyone the right to regulate the behavior of consenting adults, no matter how icky? And as for the rights of animals, is sex/rape really more of an intrusion than slaughter, butcher, and consumption?

I don't pretend these practices don't offend most of our (and my own) sensibilities, but as long as consenting adults freely choose them, who are we to say no? 


The legal and moral dilemmas

If you support the current federal challenge to California's Proposition 8, this case does present you with certain legal and moral dilemmas: By what reading of the U.S. Constitution can you say that same-sex marriage is guaranteed as a right but not THIS kind of marriage? 


Polygamy creates social imbalance

The problem with polygamy is that it takes, in this case, a lot of women out of the picture.

Remember the story of that Utah town where the unwanted boys were cast out of the town and were banished to a bunch of trailers?


Opposition from the gay community is ironic

The hypocrisy of the homosexual-rights movement is obvious. Those of us who believe that homosexuality is a "taboo sexual practice" have been accused of being homophobic; I'm not afraid of homosexuality or homosexuals, I simply believe that it's wrong, whether one argues a biblical point of view or an evolutionary point of view (which would say that nature herself has chosen homosexuals for extinction).

Now homosexuals are showing their own "polyphobia," narrow-mindedness, and prejudice. They want to invade other people's bedrooms and control behavior which is none of their business.

I love the smell of irony in the morning!


At least now the Supreme Court can separate polygamy from the civil rights argument

Turley's argument doesn't stand a chance in the U.S. Supreme Court as currently composed.  Kennedy has shown that he would never fall for Turley ridiculous argument, and his vote would join that of the other four liberals.

But at least it would give the Supreme Court a once and for all chance to separate the polygamy and bestiality nonsense from the civil rights argument for gay marriage equality. So I say, have at it, Turley.


Polygamy is a choice, homosexuality is not

A fundamental difference exists between the two. Polygamy is a choice, being gay is not a choice.


Why should the state care who marries? Everyone should applaud this

Why should the State care who I marry or how many people I marry?  Gay marriage proponents should applaud this.  They are showing that the government should not take sides in who you love.  Also, Christians should applaud this because it values marriages and is a religious freedom issue and the government should not meddle in the issue of religious freedom.


The difference between consenting adult love and depraved actions

The article states "That's not good news in the view of most gay rights supporters, who don't want their cause linked to that of polygamists any more than they want to see parallels drawn with people who engage in incest, bestiality and other taboo sexual practices."

Of course any rational adult would not want repulsive parallels drawn to incest and bestiality, because as such the comparison is intended to shock the sensibilities and paint a legitimate right with the wrong color.

If gay activists don't want gay marriage linked to polygamy, it is because the polygamists are few and that is a whole other kind of prejudice to combat. On the other hand, I think it likely that a large proportion of gays don't care if heterosexuals want a polygamist marriage. Either case is nobody else's business.

Since history is full of straights adopting gay culture, perhaps once gays show how good marriage can be, they will also set  a new, higher standard for all relationships.

The knuckleheads that want to confuse consenting adult love with depraved actions, speaks ill of their own state of mind, and they ought to seek therapy instead of shouting it in public forums.


*Spelling errors in the above comments were corrected.


Interactive: Gay marriage chronology

Same-sex marriage: Married but unequal

Gays in textbooks: Two arguments against SB 48

California needs to get back on the gay rights track [Most commented]

-- Samantha Schaefer

Photo: Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism that believes polygamy is the key to heaven, were subject of a police raid in  April 2008. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Comments ()