So, recently the Utah State Senate unanimously voted to decriminalize polygamy. Since then, a Utah State House committee slightly modified the bill and made a positive recommendation for it, sending it back to the Senate.
Once, the bicameral ping-pong concludes the bill (SB102), if it passes, would go to the Governor, who might or might not veto it. Hence, while quite interesting, it’s still early days.
If it all comes together in the manner that the bill’s proponents wish, bigamy/polygamy will in many cases go from a 3rd-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison to an infraction warranting a fine and/or community service as punishment. This is hoped to make so that polygamous people are less afraid to report crimes against them.
And Outrage Ensues
This rather quickly caused outrage among many social conservatives, a significant plurality of whom are that particular variety of Protestant-Informed Christians that are uniquely American in culture and attitude. They are quite displeased by SB102 and the fact that it wasn’t soundly and immediately rejected by Utah’s Senate.
To them, this is the bitterest vindication of their position on what constitutes normative families and how the Liberals and Progressives have worked to destroy them. They said time and time again that legalizing Queer Marriage would lead to legalizing Polygamy, and they see Utah’s current actions as the first, major step towards exactly that.
But, this outrage is to be expected and, in my opinion, accepted as righteous even though one may, like myself, disagree with it and its underlying premise. Remember, to them, the law of monogamous marriage as the only marriage provides a sturdy, general framework that enables Americans to order our personal and social lives in ways that are profoundly valuable. As such, they firmly believe that it merits special recognition and protection in our law and culture. SO, of course, they’re outraged.
And they’re not entirely wrong. Though, I believe that SB102 had little to do with Queer Marriage legalization. Polygamy has been a constant issue in Utah and has “enjoyed” a certain “grey area” status for a 100 years or more.
But Where’s The Outrage?
The dark side of the outrage coin is the utter lack of outrage from the Liberal and Progressive types over Utah’s SB102 and its likely passage into law. After all, they – especially the staunchest supporter of Queer Marriage among them – made it clear that they believed Queer Marriage was a right but that Polygamy was an abomination that should be abhorrent to any civilized society as being both destructive and immoral.
But no! There’s no outrage from the Left, not from the LGBT front or the Feminists. They’re dead silent on this except to quickly deny that Queer Marriage legality led to this happening.
And, as for the Poly Community – that’s Polyamorous by the way – even though Polygamy is a dirty word among them, they’re mostly silent too. They’re definitely voicing no outrage, even though they tend to hate the “traditional” polygamists – well, their men – even more than they hate the various social conservatives who disapprove of- and denigrate those Poly people’s own lifestyles.
It definitely makes me wonder. Have they all realized that they’ve painted themselves into a corner and can’t voice outrage over this since they separated marriage from expected cultural norms and mores and made such a big deal out of pluralism? Or do they just hate social conservatives that much that they can’t bring themselves to side with them, even against something they themselves find intrinsically evil and disgusting?
My Thoughts And Bias
First off, I’m polygamous – specifically, I’m polygynous. I have two “wives” – one legal spouse and one “live-in girlfriend” to use other, more legally acceptable terms. We’re what’s known as a “Triad” or “Throuple.” 🙄 We’ve been together over 15 years at this point. Hence, I both have “skin in the game” and an inherent bias when it comes to anything that intersects the law with such relationships.
Obviously, I’m in favor of completely legalizing and recognizing polygamous marriages under US secular law, conferring all the privileges, rights, and duties thereof unto all the family members.
Frankly, I don’t find that either the social conservatives’ or the Liberal and Progressives’ arguments against polygamy stand up to any sort of rigorous scrutiny. Certainly, my own personal experiences with my own family and others in the Poly Community don’t lend any weight to the negative claims.
Yes, I don’t for one second dispute that most of the polygamy cases we hear about in the US are rife with abuse, both physical and emotional, and coercion. Yet, I can’t see where those issues stem from polygamy as opposed to it being practiced by fundamentalist religious splinter groups who, due to draconian anti-polygamy laws, fester in marginalized, insular communities that breed that sort of extremism and allow such abuses to continue unchecked generation after generation.
Also, all the complaints that are worth addressing – there’s some that are ironic or dimwitted enough that I’ll address them in my usual fashion at a future date – are either similarly true/possible within monogamous marriages or have already been decided as being beside the point in separate, earlier contexts, e.g., while it’s statistically accurate to say that White women marrying or cohabiting with Black men have less good outcomes, we specifically made it legal for them to do so in 1967.
The above example of interracial marriage is not a non-sequitur. My “2nd Wife” is Black. When I was born we could not have gotten married in the 1st place due to Anti-miscegenation laws!
And, as a final point, there’s somewhere between 10,000 – 30,000 Religion-Based Polygamists in the US, who make up almost all of reported problems. There’s estimated to be 1,000,000 more of us living quietly among you like any “normal” family. If polygamy was the real problem, you’d already know that.