By George Flynn | Opinions Editor
With marriage equality becoming one of the most heated topics in our nation and world, it is no surprise that other forms of marriage are coming into question.
The progressive movement toward marriage equality, which has caused 17 states to legalize gay marriage, has created a slope that has allowed others to have an open mind about other different walks of life. The subject in question is polygamy, the act of having more than one spouse, which is societally viewed as an extreme taboo. However, is polygamy as atrocious as modern society thinks it is?
According to a CNN article by Mark Goldfeder entitled “It’s time to reconsider polygamy,” Utah has recently deemed part of the anti-polygamy laws as unconstitutional, but still the state has kept the ban on only possessing one marriage license at a time. This can be viewed as excellent news, however, in some places where polygamy is not exactly regulated, people, specifically women and children, are being subjected to abuse.
Another CNN article by Amanda Townsend and Agnes Pawlowski entitled “Girl, 14, fled abuse, ‘mind control’ of polygamy,” discusses a girl’s escape from the polygamous sect which was led by Warren Jeffs, who is presently spending a life sentence in prison for having sex with underage girls.
Sara Hammond escaped as a teenager. According to Townsend and Pawlowski, “She left behind 19 mothers, 74 siblings, and a father she says could never remember her name, even though he repeatedly molested her.”
Hammond also states within the article the worst beliefs of the church which she escaped. “‘Probably the worst part of the whole theology,’ she said, ‘is the treatment of women and teaching women that they are not equal to men.’” It is also stated that all woman who practiced in Warren Jeff’s church named the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints could only enter the highest degree of heaven if they had a husband who had two other wives.
With many other horror stories like Hammond’s, it is no wonder that the concept and act of polygamy has left nothing but a bad taste in our mouths. However, who is to say that polygamy is always a negative experience for women and children?
The television series, Sister Wives, which focuses on former Utah-resident, Kody Brown, his four wives and 17 children, changed the face of polygamy. The TLC series successfully humanized the act of polygamy, whether the Brown family or TLC meant to or not. The family and channel gave the world a chance to see that polygamy is not always monstrous. They have recently been in the news as they have been connected with the Utah polygamy lawsuit which was a victory for them.
CNN’s Goldfeder offers an interesting argument for polygamy and if it would be possible to legalize it. “Polygamy might not be inherently evil, which is why we need purposeful debates. But unlike traditional marriage, it has never been effectively regulated and so people, especially women and children, have suffered,” he said.
According to Goldfeder, advocates say that abuse is not in the true nature of the practice. Advocates of polygamy do not support underage relationships and abuse that is commonly correlated with polygamy.
Goldfeder’s argument is that if the nation recognized and regulated polygamy through issuing marriage licenses, it would make it much easier to catch the people who abuse the practice. Along with this, legal polygamy would allow independent civil authorities to express concerns about or disallow inappropriate polygamist pairings from taking place.
Whether or not polygamy is something that our government and society can handle right now, it is important to recognize that polygamy and the act of polygamy is something that is not completely evil. Polygamy can and is a walk of life that is acceptable in other countries. Why not here in the states?
George Flynn is a senior English major and can be reached at email@example.com.