Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

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Ann
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Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Ann » 14 Dec 2013, 03:51

I'm not a Utahn, a journalist, a lawyer, a law officer, etc. I don't know what to make of this article, but I thought people here might be interested and know more.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56894 ... g.html.csp
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Dec 2013, 04:14

A disclaimer upfront: I am NOT defending polygamy in anything I am about to say.

The Utah law allowed prosecution for polygamy, even if the man legally was married to only one woman - as long as the man and the other women viewed themselves as married. I haven't read the actual wording of the decision, but I have been told by a lawyer friend that the law was ruled unconstitutional because it unequally punished some men, in practical terms, for having sex with more than one woman (and even having kids with more than one woman to whom they were not married legally) while not punishing other men for the exact same thing.

It is the reason I have thought for a number of years the law might be ruled unconstitutional. Essentially, it punished someone for doing exactly what others do all the time without punishment, simply because that someone was willing to live with all of his sexual partners and consider them family.

Again, I'm NOT defending polygamy in saying that. I'm just saying, with "equality under the law", if the law doesn't charge a baby daddy who has nine kids with five different women to whom he isn't married, the law can't charge a polygamous man who has twelve kids with three or four different women if they "feel married" but, according to the law, aren't. In essence, there is no bigamy or polygamy under the law, since legally sanctioned marriage hasn't occurred with more than one wife. In the eyes of the law, it's serial adultery by the man and fornication by the women to whom the man is not married legally, with all the parties living together and/or aware of each other - and serial adultery and fornication are not punishable under the law. If statutory rape or any other crime can be proven, that's another story, but if all are consenting adults, according to this ruling, nobody can be charged with a crime.

The more complex issue is that Utah's constitution includes a ban on polygamy that was required in order to gain statehood, and that requirement, as worded, now is in question legally.

This is going to be appealed to the Supreme Court, I am sure - and it's going to be fascinating to see how that / those ruling(s) go. My guess is that the ruling will be upheld. I don't think polygamists will push for legalization of polygamy, since I think decriminalization is all they really want. I think they don't care if others view them as married or not, as long as they can't be prosecuted and jailed.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Jazernorth
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Jazernorth » 15 Dec 2013, 12:22

I don't agree nor disagree with polygamy, monogomy, and other types of marriage.

I always wondered why government was in the business of regulating marriage. I thought it was weird that I "had to get a license" in order to get married. License???? What gives.
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Roy
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Roy » 15 Dec 2013, 14:51

Jazernorth wrote:I always wondered why government was in the business of regulating marriage. I thought it was weird that I "had to get a license" in order to get married. License???? What gives.
I don't pretend to know all the reasons the government does what it does but one reason is income. License = fee.
Before the federal income tax (1915ish?), income from these sorts of fees were an important source of income.
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SamBee
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by SamBee » 15 Dec 2013, 18:11

Does it violate the bit about congress infringing the rights of religion?

Yes, there is a definite hypocrisy in western society about this. Multiple sexual partners are common in the west, and popular culture even encourages some forms of group sex, yet polygamy is a no-no. My view is that if the partners are consenting adults, it's not a problem, but if they're not consenting, and worse, not adults...

And the point about government and marriage is interesting. In medieval times, the government did not involve itself in marriage - that was the church's job. In many countries, cohabitation was enough to qualify as marriage.

Really if the government hadn't interfered, issues with polygamy and gay marriage may not have arisen. Ironically gay marriage may open the gates to polygamy worldwide.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Dec 2013, 18:57

A former ruling about gay marriage was cited in this case. Most people who studied and were interested thought that would be the case.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Ann
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Ann » 15 Dec 2013, 23:26

Does anyone know how the "cool" polygamists (like the Kody Brown family) deal with the male/female ratio problem? I don't get the impression that they have "Lost Boys."
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Roadrunner
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Roadrunner » 16 Dec 2013, 08:03

A couple of thoughts. First, over the years several TBMs have commented to me that polygamy is very common today in and out of the church, we just don't call it that. Men have long term sexual relations with multiple women, have children with them, and even live with them. The idea is that polygamy is the "honest" way to live a lifestyle that many do anyways. Not sure I agree with all of that but there is a grain of truth. It seems sort of along the same lines as what Ray is saying.

Separate train of thought - this ruling seems like great material for late night comedians. I don't stay up late enough to watch those shows, but I can hear it now "did you hear that Utahns have struck down anti-polygamy laws..."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Utah polygamy laws ruled unconstitutional

Post by Curt Sunshine » 16 Dec 2013, 10:00

Legally, that was the argument, in a nutshell, roadrunner - that you can't punish religious people for doing what non-religious people do without any form of commitment. It said that if you don't punish co-habitation, you can't punish "religious co-habitation". I don't like polygamy, but I agree with that concept.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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