It's the Woke Year of Our Lord 2020 and more and more people are coming around to the idea that marriage shouldn't just be between Adam and Eve. It could be between Adam and Adam, or Adam and Eve and Frank, or even four Adams all living together dressed like anime foxes in a makeshift burrow. So to progressive minds, it should sound like good news that one U.S. state is finally relaxing its laws on polygamy, an important step acknowledging that true love can exist between several people at once. The only issue is it's the same state that brought us Sister Wives.
Time to raise your non-alcoholic cider: this week, the Utah State Senate voted unanimously on decriminalizing polygamy, the act of being married to several people at once. So while wearing half a pound of gold rings on your finger is still illegal, it's now merely an infraction, like getting a parking ticket, the penalty now $750 fine and some community service for parking in several driveways at once. Meanwhile, acts like forced polygamy, underage polygamy or tricky polygamy (i.e. bigamy) remain felonies with punishments of up to five years of prison time. And it's both unsurprising and surprising that the Mormon state is the first to soften laws on multi-marriages. While Utah still has roughly 30,000 polygamist Mormons (or about 78 polygamist Mormon men), it also made a very clear promise in 1890 that Mormons would legally keep it in their temple garment for but the one spouse in return for being granted statehood.
This might be why the decision has been sold as a strategic shift instead of an ideological one. According to Utah Senator Deirdre Henderson, the move is to send a message to victims in Mormon polygamist communities (mostly women) that they can now forward and report abuse to the police without the fear of automatically being thrown into jail. But it's hard for many advocacy groups to believe that this softening is actually done in the interest of supporting polyamory or polygamist women. After all, this bill was passed unanimously by a Republican government, not exactly known for their progressive law-making (see: they're also super-concerned about porn these days). Only in January 2020, a Utah judge convicted a woman for the crime of being topless in her own house, since merely having boobs should be deemed a lewd act.
Furthermore, Mormon polygamy is actually polygyny, so while having Sister Wives are totally cool to poly Mormons, the concept of hooking up with several Brother Husbands is completely forbidden. And opponents have spoken out that the bill doesn't do anything about that core problem of Mormon polygamy, that of old men indoctrinating entire communities that it's their divine right to install a queue ticket machine at the post of their beds. On the other hand, as most Third Wives can agree, sometimes you just got to take what you can get, and maybe this one decriminalization can finally start the conversation in more places to stop being married to the idea that you can only be married to one person.
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