Sixteen days ago, a Federal Judge declared Utah's anti-polygamy laws unconstitutional. Today -- just now, in fact -- the icky gay marriage ban, forced through in 2004, was also declared unconstitutional.
Right now, I really, really wish I could hear the rants of the Eagle Forum (Utah's version of the John Birch Society, which has waaaaay too much influence on our local governments). *smirks*
However, the polygamy legality I don't find funny at all.
I realize my opinion will not be popular, but I intend to state it anyway. Here are my reasons why gay marriage doesn't bother me but polygamy does:
Two women marry. Two men marry. One man and one woman marry. These are partnerships. Granted, there might still be inequalities, but it's not built into the system. The marriage contract between two adults is set up to be equal.
Polygamy in Utah doesn't usually mean some type of hippie commune with multiple guys and gals celebrating free love. I think that some people believe that polygamy is like free love or partner swappers or swingers, so they assume that those of us against polygamy are uptight. For the record, I really don't care who sleeps with whom, as long as it's not rape, coercion, or about hurting or lying to someone. (And as long as I don't have to see it. :) )
Polygamy in Utah almost always equals one guy + multiple wives. This is inherently sexist, no matter how loving the relationships are. It means it takes 2 or 3 or more women to equal the one man -- that the women are somehow worth less than he is.
It also sets the stage for jealousy and favoritism and simmering hurt and hatred. He gets to sleep with multiple partners; the women are expected to share him and not seek out other partners. This accepts that a man may desire and deserve sexual variety but not that a woman might.
2) Problems with schools and burden to taxpayers.
It is extremely unlikely that gay partners will produce accidental and/or unwanted pregnancies. Most gay couples raising children either have them from previous heterosexual relationships, have adopted, or have used sperm donors/surrogate mothers. It is not highly likely that gay partnerships will produce far more children than the parents can afford to raise and educate, thereby sucking dry the welfare system, increasing crowding in our schools, and burdening taxpayers.
Most polygamists in Utah, however, are polygynists who feel it is their God-given duty to do all of the above. It is not unthinkable for a polygamist patriarch to sire 3 dozen children.
Let us imagine a polygamist family in Utah: John Smith and his wives Sally, Sandra, Sue, Shelly, and Cindy. Let's say that each wife produces a "modest" five kids; this family now becomes one of 31 people. This will require either one very large house or several smaller ones. Let us say that Cindy opts to become the stay-at-home sister wife and that John and the 4 other wives all work full time and equally (ha, ha, ha) share the domestic duties. That is still only 5 working adults for a family of 31. Each employed adult must support her/himself and 5.2 other people. If we assume that each working adult makes the Utah average of $40,000 per year, then s/he will have to support 6.2 people on that much every year. But what will really happen is taxpayers will end up supporting these people.
Sorry, but I find this sickening and wrong.
People talk all the time about how they find gay relationships to be immoral or unethical. I, on the other hand, find polygyny with its sexism, gross amount of offspring, and burden on other people to be the thing that is immoral and unethical.
Let me add some arguments by Kristyn Decker, former polygamist wife, given in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune:
The problem, Decker said, is that polygamy fosters abuse, particularly against women and children. Decker said she saw the abuse first-hand during her years in the AUB and now continues to talk to scores of women who are too afraid to go public with their experiences. People who see polygamy as a matter of choice between consenting adults — and who equate the issue with gay marriage — miss that point.
"It’s not about choice," she argued. "It’s about coercion."
Decker said women in polygamous communities are coerced by being told that their salvation depends on defending "the principle," a fundamentalist term for plural marriage. Dissenters face retaliation, as well as expulsion from their families and social circles, Decker said.
Polygamy also strains children, who are forced to assume significant responsibility.
"Families are so large they’re not getting the things they need," she said. "You’ve got children raising children."
And despite a willingness to look on the bright side, Decker was skeptical that Waddoups’ ruling would do much to curb those problems. She said most polygamists have not feared arrest or prosecution in recent years and decriminalizing the practice edges closer to condoning abuse.
"I don’t think there’s any good polygamy," she added.
Just for your information, let me state that I am the descendant of a relatively famous Utah polygamist, one who had 5 wives (although Wikipedia claims it was 6) and 32 documented children. (There could be more, folks.) He was wealthy enough that each wife had her own house, and, by all surviving accounts, he did his best to be a kind husband and father. But still, he could not possibly have had enough time nor enough emotional strength to give proper love and attention to each wife and child. His whole, huge family must have suffered from it.
I did not know this man, but I knew his granddaughter, who was my grandmother. She was always horribly ashamed of her grandfather for what he had done.
Grandma was ahead of her time. She'd be sickened by the legalization of polygamy today, too.
As for gay marriage, I doubt it ever crossed her mind. For me, though, I would be honored if any of my gay friends asked me to help them celebrate their marriages.