(RNS) Fueling debates over marriage and religious freedom, a federal judge declared on Dec. 13 Utah laws criminalizing polygamy are unconstitutional, ruling on a case involving the Brown family from TLC’s reality series “Sister Wives.”
Social conservatives who have argued for marriage solely between one man and one woman have long warned that allowing gay marriage would ultimately lead to allowing polygamy — an argument that’s both feared and rejected by gay marriage proponents.
Perhaps not surprisingly, groups advocating for legalizing gay marriage were quiet in response, saying that legalizing polygamy is not part of their mandate.
At the same time, proponents of traditional marriage did a victory lap of sorts, saying their worst fears are starting to come true.
“Same-sex marriage advocates have told us that people ought to be able to ‘marry who they love’ but have also always downplayed the idea that this would lead to legalized polygamy, a practice that very often victimizes women and children,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, in a statement on Monday (Dec. 16).
“But if love and mutual consent become the definition of what the boundaries of marriage are, can we as a society any longer even define marriage coherently?”
The case involves the cast of “Sister Wives,” which entered its fourth season earlier this year, featuring Kody Brown and his four wives. The Browns are members of a fundamentalist Mormon group, not part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which does not condone the practice of polygamy.
“While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our beliefs,” Kody Brown said in a statement. ”Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices.” ... ► Read the entire article by Sarah Pulliam Bailey in RNS│Religion News Service