Should Polygamy Be Legal?
Do you think polygamy should be legal?
With shows like "Big Love," "Sister Wives", and "My Five Wives," people's perception on polygamy has slowly warmed. With the recent legislation in Utah, polygamy is no longer against the law. Still, these families are not recognized by the state government, but they can share federal benefits.
I am not Mormon; I am a very liberal Methodist, and I have no ideas on joining any polygamy marriage (well, no one has asked me either, to be fair). Rather, polygamy interests me, it's so different that the traditional family structure I am used to.
I am currently reading a book about the capture of the Fundamental Ladder Day Saint's (FLDS) leader, Warren Jeff's. Jeffs was on the FBI's 10 Most-Wanted Criminals in 2008 and 2009. He had so many wives, and it was rumored he had over 100 wives in multiple states, which is why the search for him was so difficult. He was later captured and charged with two-felony charges for the rape of a child, and aiding a rape of a child (he arranged child brides for his buddies). He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole, plus 20 years. Multiple young boys have also reported he raped them from 4-9 years old.
With the all the attention on Jeffs, I wonder, what laws protect the women who do not want to participate in polygamy, but is fearful to go to the authorities, because polygamy was until recently against the law. The recent legislation which decriminalizes polygamy is a good start. Many women are scared to go to the police to report abuse because they are taught from a young age that police will break-up families, and take the kids away from their mothers. This could cause any woman to think twice before reporting abuse.
Traditionally, common law marriages aim to protect a woman's rights if the man lives under the same roof with his girlfriend for seven years. The government does this to protect a woman who has played a role as wife for a long time, and that should be recognized, and given certain rights. Depending on the state, a man cannot just kick his girlfriend to the curb after seven years. If he is the breadwinner, she can be entitled to alimony, health benefits, and she may even get a portion of his retirement.
If polygamy were legal, these women could not claim single mother when applying for food stamps or welfare. They would also have right to children and could claim domestic abuse if their husbands abuse them. They could claim married on taxes and could ensure the whole family has health insurance, not Medicare.
If polygamy were legally recognized on a federal and state, level, it would be a logistical nightmare for years. However, it would prevent food stamp and welfare fraud, and would protect a woman's rights. These men would not be able to leave their spiritual wife high and dry. The recent legislation in Utah has been a good first-step in preventing governmental fraud abuse, as well as protecting women and children. If a man goes to the courthouse to try to marry even a 16-year old, parameters could be in place to ensure her protection.
While there will always be those sickos who would try to marry young girls, by making polygamy legal, more people would stand-up and speak out against this abuse. If you were a woman who was in a plural marriage and had kids, but saw that her husband was about to marry a 12-year old, you might be afraid to go to the police. That woman may be afraid that her kids would be taken away,and that she and her husband would go to jail. If polygamy were legal, this woman could notify the authority and not fear retribution, at least from the law. The issue of polygamy and whether or not it should be a legal promblem that should be addressed with compassion for the wives.