Fans of the TLC show “Sister Wives” might be interested in this story I found while reading my RSS feeds: http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20111216/ENTERTAINMENT/111216018/1006/RSS .
It’s a little confusing; the state of Utah has only prosecuted two cases of bigamy in the last 50 years – well, they say they haven’t but the records say otherwise. Utah’s the home of the Mormon Church, which is also bigamy/polygamy central for probably the whole world as well as the home of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The real life people the show is based on makes a rather compelling argument about relationships being private in the home and since this is part of their religious beliefs, does kinda test the freedom of religion thingies in our Constitution. The state’s AG says they haven’t been charged or even warned about how they’re living and that nothing would happen unless stuff like underage marriages and abuse (presumably child abuse) happens and, um, I guess that’s not the case with these folks.
Okay, that this is poking our predominant morality in the eye is a given – it’s nothing new – and the judge ruling on their bid to get the bigamy laws overturned as unconstitutional may fail… but if they’re not bothering anyone or getting into that underage marriage/abuse thing we’ve heard about in some other cases, why not just not leave them alone and let those who have adopted this religious belief to practice their religion happily?
If men and women want to have multiple spouses, well, why not as long as legal adults are involved in this? Pain in the ass arrangement? Could be; the running joke is having one wife or husband makes life interesting enough as it is. At the root of this is survival; our ancestors did, in fact, live like this until morality changed the dynamic but if it’s true there’s safety in numbers, well, one can make compelling arguments why people should be allowed to do this as long as they’re not getting all grisly about it.
The argument about curtailment of religious beliefs is a very touchy one; indeed, a lot of people immigrate here so they can practice their beliefs without getting slaughtered for it in their country of origin which, of course, was one of the basic premises our country was founded under; the pilgrims were escaping religious persecution by King George and the Church of England – the Archbishop of Canterbury was one mean and influential son-of-a-bitch.
This story dovetails nicely with some of the blogs I’ve been reading lately and everyone’s resistance to ways of life that don’t conform to that which we’re taught to believe. My thoughts are that the Browns are gonna lose this one – but won’t get jammed by the Utah legal system since other than their, ah, marital status, they’ve not broken any laws. The federal court will have to make them lose because should they win, there are Mormons all over the place – and I believe the Seventh Day Adventists are an offshoot of the Mormons – could use a victory by the Browns as a precedence to dive into multiple marriages.
This will be seen as yet another attempt to undermine our morality and social structure so that won’t be allowed to happen. At first, I was wondering why this is being argued at the federal level until I remembered that this is really a matter that the federal government leaves to the states (and territories, possessions, etc.) to decide on; this is their way of saying, “Hey, this is your problem and we really don’t want to get involved in it!” However, with some exceptions, the states’ constitutions are based on the Constitution so it’s reasonable to assume that if it’s illegal at a state level, it’s also illegal at the federal level as well – and federal law trumps local state law.
It won’t ever become the way to be married and live – but, as with gay marriages, it could be an option, huh? All that we stand for as a country is based on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – and, well, if you care to look at it like this, failing to overturn the laws about this negates the whole ‘pursuit of happiness’ part, doesn’t it? Should the Browns fail in this – and they probably will – what does that really say? That you have the right to pursue happiness in this… but it’s happiness the way we say it is and not what it means to you?
Moral issues aside for a second, is this right or fair? I know some folks will read this and start pointing out every little thing that could go wrong in this while avoiding or tap-dancing around that which could be right about this for some folks. It becomes an issue between what we believe in versus what the law says and, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters, huh?