Georgia Unfiltered

Search This Site

16 December 2013

Utah Polygamy Ruling Makes Argument for Gov't to Permit All Marriage or Permit No Marriage

Friday, 13 December 2013, will be a day long remembered by Kody Brown and his four wives -- Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn.

On that day, a federal judge ruled that Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn should no longer face fines or jail time simply because they practice polygamy [Dalrymple, Jim (13 December 2013). Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional. Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved on 16 December 2013.].

Polygamy is defined as the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, especially wife, at one time. And there are religions throughout the world that not only condone, but also sanction the practice of polygamy. One of those religions, the Apostolic United Brethren religion, exists right here in the United States; and that religion says that the polygamous relationship between Kody Brown and his four wives is okay.

United States District Court Judge Clark Waddoups, a George W. Bush-appointee, wrote in his opinion that part of Utah's polygamy law violated the First and Fourteenth amendments, and as a result are unconstitutional. Judge Waddoups ruled that people who practice polygamy, as part of their religious observances, are not criminals. And now, for the first time, in the words of Brown family attorney Jonathan Turley, plural families can "step out for the first time in their communities and live their lives openly among their neighbors."

This ruling by Judge Waddoups may bother some people, but it shouldn't.

If you believe, as I do, that marriage is a private, religious institution; and if you believe, as I do, that government erred when they started granting public benefits to a private, religious institution, then this ruling should not bother you.

If someone's religion allows them to claim more than one wife or more than one husband, then who is government to say that an individual's religious beliefs are wrong by passing public laws that says government will not recognize this particular religious institution, while at the same time recognizing all others. If a polygamous relationship exists between consenting adults of legal age who are not being threatened or coerced into such an arrangement, then who is government to say that a person's polygamous relationship is both illegal and criminal.

Marriage is defined as, "a legally, religiously, or socially sanctioned union of persons who commit to one another, forming a familial and economic bond."

In other words, marriage is a commitment of two individuals or, in this case, multiple individuals, to each other in a familial and economic bond.

Government, through the enactment of public laws, is deciding which marriages will be recognized.

We'll recognize heterosexual marriages, but we won't recognize homosexual marriages. We'll recognize homosexual marriages, but we won't recognize polygamous marriages.

Either government recognizes all marriages or government recognizes no marriages.

Equality under the law means that the law must treat everyone equally before the law regardless of their race, gender, gender identity, national origin, color, ethnicity, religion, disability or other characteristics, without privilege, discrimination, or bias.

When government chooses to recognize one marriage, but not another, government is giving one class of people a privilege that is not being extended to all others.

If government is going to extend the privilege of marriage to a heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple, then government has to extend that privilege to polygamous adults, so long as all those involved are of legal age and consent to entering into such an arrangement.

In order to maintain equality under the law, government needs to either recognize everyone's marriage or recognize no one's marriage.

And I would argue for the latter.