December 19, 2013
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,
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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.