Letters, March 10, 2016 | Letters | Salt Lake City Weekly

Letters, March 10, 2016 

Polygamy Law Dumbest Idea Ever, It's All About Choices

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Polygamy Law Dumbest Idea Ever
Back in the bad old days before the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, many opponents of same-sex marriage warned us that if it became legal, polygamy would be next. They were—some no doubt for the first time in their lives—right. Polygamy is, as it should be, next.

In 2013, a federal judge struck down part of Utah's ban on marriages of more than two in a case involving the Brown family from the reality TV show Sister Wives. The ruling didn't require the state to issue "marriage licenses" to more than two partners, but it did invalidate the rule against cohabitation of those partners.

On March 2, Utah's House of Representatives attempted to resuscitate the ban, passing a bill that, if it makes it through the Senate and past the governor's desk and over the inevitable court challenge hurdles, would punish cohabiting parties of more than two who say they are married.

Yes, you read that right. No, it's never going to pass constitutional muster.

If you get in a car and take off down the road without a driver's license, you're still driving. If you get married without a marriage license, you're still married. A law forbidding you to mention that you're driving, or that you're married, belongs on the list of dumbest ideas ever.

What does it mean to be married? For many, marriage has religious features, but those vary. At bottom, marriage is a contractual arrangement that has evolved, just like every other kind of contractual arrangement, in many directions over millennia. Government control of the possible permutations of such arrangements is neither necessary, nor desirable, nor morally defensible.

In fact, marriage licensing appeared in the mid-19th century in the United States for the specific purpose of enabling states to ban interracial marriage. It's one of the last and most stubborn remnants of Jim Crow. It's time to bring an end to that era of darkness. The developing fight over polygamy is custom-made to hasten that outcome. The more complex marriage becomes, the less workable one-size-fits-all licensing schemes become.

Libertarian science-fiction author Robert Heinlein envisioned a future in which various forms of marriage flourish, allowing families to conserve capital over centuries instead of mere decades and create perpetual rather than temporary legacies to support their descendants. We're standing in the doorway of that future. Time to step through.
Thomas L. Knapp
Gainsville, Fla.

It's All About Choices
Stephen Dark's "No Vagrancy?" [Feb. 18, City Weekly] was an exceptional story, composed from every point of view—good and evil. There will always be a portion of our society that chooses to survive undetected on the delicate fringe.

This was a story that needed telling, and Dark did justice to the reclusive population. We cannot make everyone fit in that comfortable mold created by our imaginations, nor can we reach out to those who do not want our help, unless it is a time of their choosing. Free agency and the law may be the only guidelines for volunteers of bad choice. Of course, we want to love all people here in the shadow of the "everlasting hills, " but it's all about choice.

Dark's article was also very timely, released days before a major bust in one of the "no-tell motels."

I hope City Weekly appreciates the skill Dark lends to its publication.
Barbara Sadler

Correction: Spitz is one of a small number of doner-kebab eateries of the same name located in California and Utah. "That's a Wrap" [March 3, City Weekly] indicated the restaurant was based only in Utah.

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