Home » Pullman: Utah Still Defends Criminalizing Polyfidelity

Pullman: Utah Still Defends Criminalizing Polyfidelity

by  Keith Pullman
Utah leaders are sill defending their criminalization of polyfidelity, a particularly egregious violation of the freedom of association of consenting adults. Here’s an Associated Press article from abcnews.go.com by Lindsay Whitehurst…

Utah state attorneys defending the state’s anti-polygamy law argue it should stay on the books because it protects women and children from abuse.

Really? Are women and children more protected in Utah than every other state?

The Utah Attorney General is appealing a ruling striking down key provisions of the law in the case of Kody Brown and his four wives, stars of the reality TV show “Sister Wives.” The state says in newly filed court documents that monogamous marriage is an important social unit and court rulings dating back to 1878 have upheld laws against polygamy.

“The United States Constitution does not protect the practice of polygamy as a fundamental right,” state attorney Parker Douglas wrote.

We will see about that. Criminalization of consensual adult relationships has been struck down by the Supreme Court in case after case.

Brown family attorney Jonathan Turley countered Monday that the state’s evidence of widespread abuse in polygamous communities is scant and the Browns show such unions can be healthy.

“As with monogamous families, the state has ample laws to prosecute individuals for abuse or other crimes,” Turley said in an email to The Associated Press.

Exactly. Domestic violence and child abuse are criminal under other laws. Decriminalizing polyfidelity will actually make it easier to prosecute abuse.

The state is requesting oral argument in the case and Turley is preparing his response. He has said the family is prepared to take the legal fight to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

I would love for the Court to take care of the issue this month in ruling on other cases.

Utah is appealing a 2013 ruling that struck down key provisions of the state’s anti-polygamy law.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups decided that a provision of the state law forbidding cohabitation violated the polygamous Brown family’s freedom of religion.

It also violated other basic rights adults have.

If the ruling stands, Utah’s law would be like most other states that prohibit people from having multiple marriage licenses. In most polygamous families, the man is legally married to one woman but only “spiritually married” to the others.

They should all be free to legally marry. But until then, they shouldn’t be denied their right to be together unmarried.

The teaching that polygamy brings exaltation in heaven is a legacy of the early Mormon church, but the mainstream Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice in 1890 and strictly prohibits it today.

Many other groups citing Mormon heritage support polygyny.

An adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage (or any of those without the others) with any and all consenting adults, without prosecution, bullying, or discrimination. That’s full marriage equality.