Saturday, 14 December 2013

Polyamory Now Legal In Utah

I wrote last year about the Brown's of "Sister Wives" fame and their campaign to end Utah's regressive laws on "religious cohabitation".

Utah has, I'm sure you'll know, a long and complicated relationship with both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and polygamy. In the 19th century polygamy was a central tenet of the LDS Church and they played a cat and mouse game with federal authorities to keep the "Principle" alive in Utah. By the 20th century the federal authorities had won and the LDS Church gave up the "Principle" in order for Utah and the church itself to commence normal relations within the Union.

By the middle of the 20th century the LDS Church was busy rebranding itself and, in so doing, sort to ever further distance itself from its polygamous past. It did this with the help of Utah state authorities and passed, in 1973, a law which banned living with more than one person as if you were married.

“A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.”
Not only did this allow authorities to intervene in some cases of abuse among fundamentalist Mormons, it also became a rod to beat those who were causing harm to no one else. A couple of years ago the Brown family themselves fled their beloved Utah home and settled in Las Vegas in order to avoid jail for the adult members and family separation.

Now the Brown's have won a victory that will allow others of their faith to practice non-legally binding plural marriage without fear. This is absolutely fantastic news, marking another step forward for freedom. It may be appealed however so fingers crossed this ruling is a keeper.

As predicted last year Lawrence v. Texas (which ended US state's anti-sodomy laws in 2003) played its part:

“Consensual sexual privacy is the touchstone of the rational basis review analysis in this case, as in Lawrence.”

Gay rights lead to human rights. Good times!

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