Same-Sex Unions and Polygamy: Developments
According to a report at MSNBC.com, an article from the March 20, 2006, edition of Newsweek magazine discusses the attempt to use the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas to extend the court's recognition of the right of consenting adults to engage in private activities without government interference from the setting aside of a Texas law prohibiting sodomy to the practice of polygamy. (Of course, once polygamy is permitted, it should follow that polyandry would likewise be allowed by law.) The argument is associated with a lawsuit filed in Utah by a couple (man and woman, also husband and wife) who were denied a marriage license when an additional wife was sought. The suit was denied by the federal court, but is now being reviewed by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals -- where the Lawrence v. Texas decision is expected to be cited on behalf of the couple.
It's going to happen, folks. It may not be here; it may not be today, or tomorrow -- but it is going to happen. As our society increasingly cuts itself loose from the anchor of Christian morality and ethics, there is no reason why the state should not permit such "marriages," either on the part of same-sex unions, or those of the "poly" variety. We are moving toward an appreciation of marriage that approximates that of the (pagan) Roman Empire, where marriage served to clearly indicate lines of inheritance, and to otherwise maintain public decency and order. Even today, if you look closely at the marriage statutes on the books in most (if not all) states, the language almost suggests a sense of "corporate mergers" -- that is, entity A and entity B desire to merge their assets and liabilities and establish a joint entity C. State marriage laws examine the "merger" to make certain that both entities have an actual legal existence, and are not precluded from entering into such a merger. As well, the state laws also address the possibility that the merger is not permanent, and so sets forth the way in which the assets and liabilities of the joint entity are to be distributed in the event the merger is dissolved, as well as providing for the management and maintenance of any "subsidiary entities" that may have arisen as a result of the merger. (That is, children of the marriage.) The bottom line, from the state's perspective, is to ensure that the disagreements don't disrupt the public order; and to make sure that the chance of any participants becoming dependent upon the resources of the state (especially financial) is minimized or, ideally, prevented. Such language is not limited to the union of one man and one woman. Same-sex and "poly" unions can just as easliy be integrated into statutory language.
The practice of polygamy in certain areas of the western United States, and, in particular, in southern Utah and northern Arizona, is an open secret. There are two legitimate reasons for the states to intervene: the practice in these (and other) areas of marrying underage girls to older (sometimes, much older) men -- usually without their consent (although typically with the consent of their fathers); and the tendency of these families to request and receive economic assistance from the state (welfare) because the mothers are typically "stay at home" moms, and the single husband is unable to earn enough to provide for all of his wives and offspring. Well, this can be easily addressed in the law: prohibit the marriage of minors, regardless of consent, if the marriage will be a plural one; and exclude such families from welfare eligibility. In such cases, it will become the responsibility of the community (which usually has a religious basis) to provide for the needs of its own.
Of course. when Christian morality is brought into play, the rules change; but, as this morality is increasingly unwelcome in the governmental process, we can only hope to hold on to what we have -- and that won't be enough...
Gay Mormon Faces Excommunication
The Associated Press has reported that a Utah man who obtained a legal "marriage" to his same-sex partner in Canada faces excommunication for violating the teachings and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Buckley Jeppson, of Washington, D.C., who married Mike Kessler in Toronto on August 27, 2004, was told that a "disciplinary council" of the LDS Church will decide what action should be taken. The article adds, "It is believed that if Jeppson is excommunicated, it would be the first time a Mormon in a legal, same-sex marriage was punished by the church."
It will be interesting to see if Mr. Jeppson is, indeed, excommunicated; and what will happen next if this is the action taken. Is there a lawsuit against the LDS disciplinary council in the future?
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