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December 19, 2013
Column #1,686
Is Polygamy Next?
By Mike McManus

In 2004 Dr. James Dobson made a prescient prediction in his book, Marriage Under Fire: “The introduction of legalized gay marriage will lead inexorably to polygamy and other alternatives to one-man, one-woman unions.”

Why? He wrote, “Because there is no place to stop once that Rubicon has been crossed. Historically the definition of marriage has rested on a bedrock of tradition, legal precedent, theology and the overwhelming support of the people.

“After the introduction of marriage between homosexuals, it will be supported by nothing more substantial than the opinion of a single judge or by a black-robed panel of justices.”

Indeed, it was a court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004. Nine years later, 14 states and Washington DC, have taken that step.

Last Friday U.S District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that that key parts of Utah’s polygamy laws are unconstitutional. He said the law’s prohibition of “cohabitation,” which the law used to describe polygamous relationships, violates the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

Congress required Utah to pass a law outlawing polygamy as a condition of becoming a state in 1896. Polygamy was commonplace in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). However, the church disavowed polygamy in 1890, but some splinter groups continued the practice.

The case was initiated by Kody Brown and his four wives who star in the hit TLC cable show, “Sister Wives.” Together they have 17 children, and are members of a small branch of Mormons who believe in polygamy.

In 1879 the Supreme Court upheld the right of states to restrict polygamy in Reynolds v. United States. However, Judge Waddoups, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, noted there has been a shift in the Court’s posture “that is less inclined to allow majoritarian coercion of unpopular or disliked minority groups.”

He relied particularly on the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas that struck down Texas law prohibiting sodomy. The judge quoted the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy which stated that the Constitution protects people from “unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places” and “an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.”

However, Justice Antonin Scalia, in his famous prophetic dissent in that case, wrote that the nation was on the verge of the end of legislation based on morality, and was opening the door to legalizing “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity.”

In a commentary headlined, “I now pronounce you man and wives…” Family Research Council President, Tony Perkins, asserted that the case revealed “the Left’s dirty little secret – that people who support same-sex `marriage’ are saying `I do’ to a lot more than they bargained for. Once the courts and policy makers depart from the natural definition of marriage, the Left has a legal foundation for any arrangement between consenting adults.”

For more than 5,000 years of recorded history marriage has been defined as the union of a man and a woman to provide a social structure for the raising of children. Children need and deserve the opportunity to be reared by both the mother and father. That’s impossible in same-sex marriage and impossibly complex in polygamy.
“Marriage laws were designed to secure parental rights for that man and woman over the child they had created, and also imposed strict duties and obligations on each of them for raising that child,” writes Ken Klukowski, of the Family Research Council.

Those laws bound the man and woman in a relationship of sexual exclusivity, mutual care and support. The husband protected and supported his wife during pregnancy for her sake. Together they made a similar commitment to their children.

By contrast, sodomy, same-sex marriage and polygamy are focused on the affections of adults –without regard to children. “Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it will mean nothing,” asserts Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.

This is a battle which must be fought for children.

What can be done? The top priority is to pass a U.S. Marriage Amendment. It has no chance of gaining a two-thirds majority in Congress. However, Article 5 of the Constitution allows another way to take that step. If 34 state legislatures - two-thirds of them - call for a Convention to consider a Marriage Amendment, it must be held.
There are 34 states which have passed laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman – mostly state constitutional amendments.

It is time for them to act.

 

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