Polygamy Should Be Legal in the Us

First, empirical evidence shows a troubling correlation between polygamy, as currently practiced, and harm to women, a link that judges in many countries have used to enforce the prohibition of polygamy. For example, in polygamous marriages, these women are much more likely to experience abuse, depression and poverty than monogamous marriages (Bala, 2011). Women are often unable to control the arrival of new wives by their husbands, contributing to feelings of helplessness and psychological abuse (Hassouneh-Phillips, 2001, 744). At present, there may be good reasons to keep polygamy an illegal star. However, marriages between several people should generally not be avoided. The great advantage of this would be that polyamorists could finally get married. A recent survey of 4,000 polyamorous people found that nearly two-thirds would be willing to marry multiple people if it were legal (“What do polys want?” 2012). This would be an important new option for many. Therefore, palmed marriage, if properly designed by local policymakers for their own context, could represent a non-problematic form of marriage that is ideal for polygamists and deserves serious consideration for legalization in today`s liberal democracies. The basis for the distinction between religious belief and religious practice dates back to an 1879 decision in Reynolds v. the United States, which included an attempt by the United States government to outlaw the then-common Mormon practice of polygamy (later rejected by the main church) in the Utah Territory. The court wrote: “We think it can be said with certainty that in no state of the Union has there been a time when polygamy was not a crime against society, recognized by the civil courts and punished with varying degrees of severity. In the face of all this evidence, it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom was intended to prohibit laws relating to this most important feature of social life.

Can a man excuse his contrary practices because of his religious beliefs? To allow this would be to place the professed teachings of religious belief above the law of the land, and even to allow every citizen to become a law to himself. The legality of polygamy in the United States is that the practice is a crime and is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both, depending on each state`s law and the circumstances of the offense. [1] Polygamy has been banned in federal territories by the Edmunds Act, and there are laws against the practice in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam[2] and Puerto Rico. [3] Since state laws have existed, polygamy is not actively prosecuted at the federal level,[4] but the practice is considered “contrary to public policy.” While bigamy is still technically a crime in the United States, polygamy is essentially already decriminalized. In some states, a couple can be legally married (husband/wife, husband/husband or wife/wife), live with another married couple, and claim that all four are married to each other (but not legally). Such agreements are highlighted by the Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas (2003), in which the court stated: “Freedom presupposes self-autonomy which includes thought, belief, opinion, and certain intimate behaviours.” As Justice Antonin Scalia acknowledged in the dissent, the Lawrence decision could be used to legalize bigamy and would constitute a “massive disruption of the current social order.” This is not an abstract theory. Polygamy is legal in many countries, and it is the laws of those countries that show how polygamy works in practice. At Georgetown Law, I run the International Women`s Human Rights Clinic. Professors and clinical students have worked with African women`s rights lawyers in many different countries to investigate the harms caused by legal polygamy.

We interviewed a large cross-section of the population in Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland and Tanzania, and in each country the majority spoke emotionally about the impact of polygamy on women and children. They talked about the inability of men to provide for more than one woman and their children. They spoke of jealousy and hatred, while women and children struggled for scarce economic resources and virtually no emotional support from a husband and father. The question arises: where will the next push come? The answer will make almost everyone uncomfortable: Now that we have defined that love, devotion, and family are not just about gender, why should they be limited to two individuals? The most natural advance for marriage is legalized polygamy — but many of the same people who lobbied for marriage equality for same-sex couples oppose it. Since few Americans will choose polygamy, why is it a concern for Christians? I suspect that many progressives would realize in this way that the arguments against polygamy are incredibly flimsy, almost completely without rational foundation, and driven by purely irrational fears and prejudices. What we are left with is an unsatisfactory patchwork of unconvincing arguments and bad ideas adopted for short-term and long-term convenience. We must insist that rights cannot be set aside for short-term logistical interests and political pragmatism. So the path is clear: look beyond political convenience and conservative intransigence and advocate for extending legal marital rights to more loving and engaged adults. It`s time. Since the Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882, bigamy has been a federal crime under U.S. law.

Bigamy is a crime that occurs when a person is married to two different people at the same time under two different marriage contracts. If a person is married, he or she is required to dissolve the marriage by death, annulment or divorce before he or she can legally enter into a new marriage. If a person deliberately fails to dissolve the first marriage before entering into a new marriage contract, they may be charged with bigamy. Polygamy is illegal in Mexico, despite a few cases there. In an October 2004 op-ed for USA Today, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, argued that polygamy should be legal as a simple matter of equal treatment before the law. Turley acknowledged that underage girls are sometimes forced to marry polygamously, responding that “banning polygamy is no more a solution to child abuse than banning marriage would be a solution to domestic violence.” [18] This is one of the reasons why progressives who oppose the case of legal polygamy often do not seem to really care about it. They seem uncomfortable voicing their objections, as they are clearly not accustomed to rejecting the appeals of those who would codify non-traditional relationships by law. They invariably accept the right of adults to engage in sexual and romantic relationships of their choice, but reject formal and legal recognition of such relationships. I suspect they are trapped in previous oppositions expressed from the standpoint of political pragmatism to advance the cause of same-sex marriage. After all, traditional marriages often encourage abuse.

Traditional marriages are often patriarchal. Traditional marriages often exhibit ugly gender and power dynamics. In fact, many would argue that the origins of marriage stem from a desire to formalize patriarchal structures within the family. We pursued marriage equality at the same time as we pursued more just and feminist heterosexual marriages, convinced that the right to vote deserves to be improved, saved. If we want to ban marriages because some are places of sexism and abuse, we should start with the old-fashioned model of husband and wife. If polygamy tends to find its way into religious traditions that seem alien or regressive to the rest of us, it is a function of illegality that should be eliminated. Legalize group marriage and you will find that its association with abuse disappears. The marriage equality movement was both the best and worst thing that could happen to legally sanctioned polygamy. Better yet, because this movement required a sustained and effective attack on the arguments of “traditional marriage,” which reflected no other view than that marriage should remain the same because it was always the same.

In particular, the idea that procreation and child-rearing are the natural justification for marriage has been mortally wounded. After all, we don`t ban marriage for those who can`t get pregnant, nor do we annul marriages that don`t result in children, or make couples swear that they won`t have children too long after they get married. Instead, we emphasized that the institution exists to enshrine in law a particular type of long-term commitment and to provide some important logistical and legal benefits to those who make that commitment. And rightly so. Good editorial. Legalization is not required. Most polygamists do not believe that the government should play a role in marriage. Most polygamists would be very happy with simple decriminalization to end the persecution.

This is not an abstract subject. In the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts, he noted: “It is striking how the majority`s reasoning would apply equally forcefully to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.” As is often the case with critics of polygamy, he fails to mention why it is a fate to be feared.