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Polygamy on NPR


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Talk of the Nation is interviewing a polygamist family right now - interesting listening. The show should be available for listening later this afternoon.

 

And there's a caller (male) who has a husband and two wives, which is interesting.

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What really struck me is that they don't want the ebil state of Utah to sanction their "marriage." They just want polygamy decriminalized. At least in the US, the ebil state has an interest in marriage, but polygamists are asking the state to carve out a special exemption just for them.

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The family's name I believe is Dogger. There is one hubby, three wives and 23 children. I had to laugh at the name.

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Beeks: My point was that these folks want a form of marriage outside the laws of the state; their God given form of marriage is so special that the state cannot be involved in any way. That raises a number of questions, including the legitimacy of the children, tax laws, medical insurance policies -- all the things that are covered by state marriage laws.

For example: Jim and Sally are legally married, then Jim and Jane enter into spiritual marriage. They have 16 children. Which children are legally entitled to inherit from Jim? Which children are covered by any medical insurance he may carry? Their spiritual practice requires children, yet Jim cannot support them, so I must do so in the form of food stamps and overcrowded public schools, even if I don't want to support their religion.

The spiritual marriages entered into by polygamists really do raise issues related to all religious practices. Should Jehovah's Witnesses be allowed to deny blood transfusions to their children? Should the Pearls be allowed to 'discipline" children with plumbing line? Both would argue these actions are religious practice.

I'm not arguing slippery slope. I'm simply raising the question of the degree to which the state should support religious practices.E

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Beeks: My point was that these folks want a form of marriage outside the laws of the state; their God given form of marriage is so special that the state cannot be involved in any way. That raises a number of questions, including the legitimacy of the children, tax laws, medical insurance policies -- all the things that are covered by state marriage laws.

For example: Jim and Sally are legally married, then Jim and Jane enter into spiritual marriage. They have 16 children. Which children are legally entitled to inherit from Jim? Which children are covered by any medical insurance he may carry? Their spiritual practice requires children, yet Jim cannot support them, so I must do so in the form of food stamps and overcrowded public schools, even if I don't want to support their religion.

The spiritual marriages entered into by polygamists really do raise issues related to all religious practices. Should Jehovah's Witnesses be allowed to deny blood transfusions to their children? Should the Pearls be allowed to 'discipline" children with plumbing line? Both would argue these actions are religious practice.

I'm not arguing slippery slope. I'm simply raising the question of the degree to which the state should support religious practices.E

This is already established law....don't you think men have been having children outside of marriage for all time? It's been dealt with. Are you asking whether Jim and Sally's biological kids should have a share of Jane's inheritance if she should die? That would be an interesting legal issue but I don't see it as a huge problem. I don't think this is as serious an issue for the kids as JW's and Pearls, because those things are literally leading to the death of children. Having multiple wives isn't going to kill anyone, and while I don't know whether the state should RECOGNIZE plural marriages, I am quite sure I don't want my tax money spent prosecuting people for having two wives who are both adults and are perfectly happy with the situation.

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I thought the interview was interesting. They seemed fairly open minded for fundamentalists- the wife was even asked if it was ok for her to have a second husband, and she said that she personally wouldn't do that becuase it's against her religious beliefs, but she feels that it should be ok for another woman to have two husbands if that's what she wanted and everyone involved was an adult making a free choice.

Apparently the husband and the three wives (two of whom are sisters) were raised in plural families, so for them it's a cultural thing. They also pointed out that it can be an immigration issue as well, for folks from countries outside the US where polygamy is legal.

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This is already established law....don't you think men have been having children outside of marriage for all time? It's been dealt with. Are you asking whether Jim and Sally's biological kids should have a share of Jane's inheritance if she should die? That would be an interesting legal issue but I don't see it as a huge problem. I don't think this is as serious an issue for the kids as JW's and Pearls, because those things are literally leading to the death of children. Having multiple wives isn't going to kill anyone, and while I don't know whether the state should RECOGNIZE plural marriages, I am quite sure I don't want my tax money spent prosecuting people for having two wives who are both adults and are perfectly happy with the situation.

Should the state allow "marriage" outside the purview of the state? Should polygamists' spiritual marriages be an exception to state law supervising marriage? Why should this exemption be permitted? Does the state not have a legitimate interest in children of these "spiritual" marriages?

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Should the state allow "marriage" outside the purview of the state? Should polygamists' spiritual marriages be an exception to state law supervising marriage? Why should this exemption be permitted? Does the state not have a legitimate interest in children of these "spiritual" marriages?

I'm saying the state should change its laws. It doesn't have to formally recognize polygamous marriages, but neither should they be criminalized. I don't really see how decriminalizing it would be an exception to the marriage laws?

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Which children are legally entitled to inherit from Jim? Which children are covered by any medical insurance he may carry? Their spiritual practice requires children, yet Jim cannot support them, so I must do so in the form of food stamps and overcrowded public schools, even if I don't want to support their religion.

Legally, illegitimate children have the same right to inheritance and insurance as children with married parents. The law no longer distinguishes between illegitimate/legitimate children. NB: I rather dislike those terms, I am just saving space here.

I don't buy that making it legal or keeping it illegal (either way) will save/cost the taxpayers money. They are going to have a zillion kids either way. We cannot stop them. So, null argument in my pov.

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Legally, illegitimate children have the same right to inheritance and insurance as children with married parents.

So would this mean that Kody could list all 17 children as his and get medical insurance for them if he had a job that offered it? I think I recall that when they were in Utah, before the show ever aired, he did not list his children because he did not want to be "outed" as a polygamist. I am not sure which wife and family people knew about at the time. One of the girls, Mykelti I think, had an appendectomy and they had no insurance for her-pretty sure it was one of Christine's children, so she must not have been the wife who was in the open.

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Polygamy is patriarchy at its worst, regardless whether it is the face of the Browns or the Dargers. In this belief system, women and children are the currency which enable the male to become a god on his own planet, and if women and children behave, they are allowed to join their god.

Whether women "willingly" join such a belief system is beside the point. It is patriarchy and I will not condone it, nor will I accept that it should be decriminalized.

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That is the LDS interpretation, but there are other forms of polyamory. We used to have a poster on the old board who lived in an egalitarian, nontheistic polyamorous situation.

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WRT the medical benefits question...yes, at my employer, Kody could list all 17 kids as his and get insurance for them. Further, he would pay the same rate as an employee who was only enrolling one child. Now, granted, if I received a benefit enrollment form with 17 kids on it, you can bet it would be snark material for my department (though I wouldn't discuss it outside of my department). If he tried to enroll all four wives, though, that wouldn't work.

ETA to fix a riffle and to add that my employer is super nice when it comes to benefits...but generally, a parent can add all the children that are theirs to their medical benefits. My employer happens to have a flat employee + child/children rate, so it doesn't matter if you have 1 kid or 100 - others might not be so affordable. But if Kody came to work for my company, yes, he would be able to insure all his children.

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Dollars to donuts there is some $$ issue where they don't want their marriage to be legal. Same with prostitution - a lot of sex workers want it decriminalized, but mostly because they don't want to have to file taxes, deal with pesky health laws etc. (I live in NV, FWIW, where we have legal prostitution in all counties except Clark (where Vegas is) and Washoe (where Reno is.) Maybe it is if you have 4 working adults, even with the 23 kids, the taxes would be bad.

And, if Pa and Ma One and Ma Two get into a car crash and die, would Ma Three automatically get custody of all the kids if there wasn't a legal marriage? What about inheritance for a spouse?

God, it just sounds so dang complicated. i can barely make it with the one husband and the two kids. Although a friend and I used to say we should be sister wives. She would be the cleaning and sewing sister wife and I'd be the conjugal duties and cooking sister wife.

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That is the LDS interpretation, but there are other forms of polyamory. We used to have a poster on the old board who lived in an egalitarian, nontheistic polyamorous situation.

However, I would bet that most polygamist relationships are one male/multiple females, and they are patriarchical. As someone on another thread noted, FJers are ardently anti-patriarchy. I say we're anti-patriarchy except for polygamists.

ETA: missing word

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Polygamy itself should be legal/can be egalitarian doesn't = 'this particular polygamous relationship is a-okay and not patriarchal'. I haven't seen many people saying "Gee, that Kody, definitely not a douche!"

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However, I would bet that most polygamist relationships are one male/multiple females, and they are patriarchical. As someone on another thread noted, FJers are ardently anti-patriarchy. I say we're anti-patriarchy except for polygamists.

ETA: missing word

I disagree. For a start, FJ is not a hive vagina ;) Though, the general mood is that informed adults have the right to make their own choices about their lives, so long as they don't brainwash their children into accepting this for themselves or try to force it on others.

Polyamorists tend to be fiercely progressive and liberal. Plenty of poly groupings have females with more than one partner. As for polygyny among some Muslims and fringe Jewish and Christian groups, I don't really have a problem so long as there is no coercion.

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I really have not worked out all of my thoughts on this topic. On one level, I think that if all adults are agreeable to the situation, then government should not interfere and should recognise these family units. On the other hand, there is so much potential for abuse and it creates a very complcated set of unforseen consequences that would take generations to sort out in a practical way.

At the moment, it is a seriously bum deal for the spiritual wife (or wives). Decriminalizing it will not help them. It would only make it easier for the legally married pair to get an unfair advantage. In some ways, it would make these spiritual spouses slaves. Legalizing it would afford more protections to all parties, but would be very complicated to adjudicate.

This is nowhere near as clear to me as is same sex marriage. (Even though polygamy is bible approved and homosexuality is not.) Two human parings are just much simpler to manage. I do not see much practical difficulty in applying existing laws to same sex couples.

There is a lot to think about.

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I disagree. For a start, FJ is not a hive vagina ;) Though, the general mood is that informed adults have the right to make their own choices about their lives, so long as they don't brainwash their children into accepting this for themselves or try to force it on others.

Polyamorists tend to be fiercely progressive and liberal. Plenty of poly groupings have females with more than one partner. As for polygyny among some Muslims and fringe Jewish and Christian groups, I don't really have a problem so long as there is no coercion.

SeagAte--You are correct that I overspoke about the forum's attitude toward patriarchy. unfortunately, I do not believe that most polygamists would be comfortable raising their children to be neutral regarding polygamy; that would be difficult, although several of the Brown children say they will not become polygamists.

I would be interested in statistics on female poly groupings, not because I doubt you, but because I'm always interested in data.

As for your last point, regarding coercion in religions: If your god says that a requirement to enter heaven is to be a polygamist wife, how can that not be coercion? If it's either polygamy or hell, that isn't much of a choice, regardless of whether it is fringe or mainstream.

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Hi! I'm your friendly local FJ polyamorist! While it's true that right now, ours is a FMF vee (we ladies don't bump uglies), the M in the equation is highly supportive of my finding another M to tack onto the end, making us more of an N. Our lady is monogamous personally but willing to remain with my darling... and has been for a decade now. She's just as free to look, but we doubt she will. One is enough and that's okay!

The grouping we are closest with, emotionally, is a MFM vee: one woman, one legal husband, one very significant other man. They live together and, if all goes well, will be buying a house together at some point. One of the men has a son, who comes to visit from CA on a regular basis. Miss K loves that boy so much!

It's not unheard of, trust me. :D

As for who should be allowed to marry: Consenting adults, as in 18+, none of this "parental permission" BS. Not that changing the laws will stop the real criminals, but it'll stop punishing the people who aren't trying to build harems full of teenage girls. There are so many rights reserved for married people that ought to be extended to less conventional families, and if that means bringing the less conventional families into the "married" tent, so be it.

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