By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, October 28, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Democratic Attorney General candidate Jean Welch Hill has told Utah voters that polygamists should never have to fear being prosecuted for their religion.
According to an AP report she said that the Utah bigamy statute is unconstitutional in the wake of the 2003 Supreme Court ruling Lawrence v. Texas. That case struck down the Texas sodomy law, saying it violated the due process clause and that the state had no justifiable interest intruding into the private lives of consenting adults.
"Our bigamy law still stands but, frankly, it’s indefensible based on that ruling," Hill told AP. "You can prosecute for forced marriages, but to actively prosecute a polygamist for being a polygamist? You’re not going to succeed."
Incumbent Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says, however, that he is more concerned with polygamy being legalized under a court ruling in favor of homosexual “marriage,” than Lawrence v. Texas.
"Once you take it to the next level of marriage and children, marriage and divorce, that’s different than having sex with who you want in the privacy of your home," he said in the AP report.
Utah is in a unique situation due to the legacy of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the state’s dominant religion. Though polygamy was abandoned as a tenet of faith in 1890, there are an estimated 37,000 polygamists in the West, most of them in Utah.
Whichever way polygamy may become lawful, commentators have long warned that as soon as homosexuality becomes acceptable there is no compelling reason to forbid polygamy.
In Canada, after the then Liberal government legalized same-sex “marriage,” Conservative leader Stephen Harper warned that it could lead to legalization of polygamy. “I believe we have to recognize the traditional definition of marriage in law, otherwise we will continue to be presented with demands that just get more and more radical,” he said.
Columnist Barbara Kay published an article in the National Post in 2005 titled "The Broken Windows Theory of Marriage," where she said, "Polygamists have not challenged the ban for the same reason people walk by an apparently abandoned car for days on end - until someone breaks one of its windows. The car is then vandalized and stripped within hours. Gay marriage is that broken window. Continuing vandalism will see marriage abolished altogether, exactly what radical gays, feminists and family law theorists wanted in the first place, and the reason why feminists disparage heterosexual, but support gay, marriage."
Kay continued, observing, "Gay marriage activists who break metaphorical car windows have no moral advantage over polygamists who slash metaphorical tires. If gender is irrelevant to marriage, why not numbers? The legal director of the Utah branch of the American Civil Liberties Union says, ‘Talking to Utah’s polygamists is like talking to gays and lesbians who really want the right to live their lives.’”
Polygamist Muslims are already enjoying special exemptions in countries that don’t have a tradition of polygamy but have wholeheartedly embraced homosexuality.
In February LifeSiteNews.com reported that the primacy of natural, monogamous marriage in the laws of western countries, such as Britain and Canada, was being eroded by mass immigration from Islamic states and the success of the homosexual lobby in re-writing the legal definition of marriage. LSN revealed that in Britain and Canada, immigration and welfare rules tacitly admit that polygamy, which remains illegal in both countries, is one of the new facts of life.
In Britain new rules drawn up by the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) allow Muslim men - who under Sharia law are permitted up to four wives - to claim welfare benefits for more than one wife.
Canadian lawmakers said they were "perturbed" to find out earlier this year that husbands are claiming welfare benefits for multiple wives in Ontario.
A report was released in February by the Canadian Society of Muslims that estimated that "several hundred" men in the Greater Toronto Area are in polygamous marriages and are receiving welfare payments for their multiple wives, though bigamy remains illegal in Canada and the rules officially bar applicants for welfare from claiming for more than one spouse.
Although polygamy is technically banned in the Netherlands, the marriages of Muslims who have several wives are now recognized by Dutch authorities in the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, if the marriages took place in countries where having more than one wife is permitted, such as Morocco.
A Canadian study in 2006 that suggested legalizing polygamy argued that keeping polygamy illegal served no useful purpose. “Why criminalize the behaviour?” lead author of the study, Martha Bailey said. “We don’t criminalize adultery. In light of the fact that we have a fairly permissive society, why are we singling out that particular form of behaviour for criminalization?”
Read related LifeSiteNews.com articles:
The Broken Windows Theory of Marriage by Barbara Kay
Polygamy has Arrived: Britain and Canada Pay Welfare Benefits to Polygamist Immigrants
Provincial Attorney-General Warns Canada’s Polygamy Law Open to Legal Challenge
Netherlands Recognises Polygamous Marriages of Muslims reports Dutch Newspaper
Canadian Government Study Suggests Legalizing Polygamy