Let’s make polygamy legal

Warren Jeffs has wispy hair and the calm yet bulbous eyes of a chaste Chihuahua. But chaste he is not.

Warren Jeffs has wispy hair and the calm yet bulbous eyes of a chaste Chihuahua. But chaste he is not. The “president, prophet, seer and revelator” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a dynamo of the most delectable carnal dalliance. Jeffs’ church advocates, among other things, boundless polygamy.

Based in Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah, the FLDS church has long been the vanguard of radical Mormonism. Disconnected from society and isolated from the modern world, these quiet sister towns function as their own private state. Unless you ask the federal government.

The states of Arizona and Utah incessantly invade Hildale and Colorado City, cracking down on the seemingly endless list of offenses committed by the persistently polyamorous parishes. Most of this enforcement comes justly. Jeffs and his buddies have a few less-than-saintly tendencies. Pedophilia, for instance. In 2005, eight men were indicted for sexual contact with underage girls, and sometimes boys.

Though Mormonism considers homosexuality a cardinal sin, Jeffs’ nephew has accused him and several of his brothers of molestation. As one might imagine, this sort of thing catches up with a guy. After fleeing authorities in Nevada, Jeffs found himself on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. After spending several years on the lam, forced to travel with only one of his more than 40 wives, Jeffs was arrested outside of Las Vegas in August 2006. Accompanying him and his seventh-favorite wife, Naomi, were his brother, several computers, 15 cell phones, three wigs and enough cash to buy a few new wives from the Bunny Ranch. We’re still curious about the wigs.

Jeffs waived extradition and returned to Utah for trial. After all, who wouldn’t prefer Utah’s courts when going up against charges of polygamy and pedophilia? Then again, today’s Utah may be the worst place. Just as born-again Christians often become the most dogmatic, ex-polygamists have espoused the most stringent support of single-spouse society. Mitt Romney is quoted as saying he “can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy.” Murder, rape and Mad TV all pale in comparison.

Once the proud home of five-wife families, Utah was forced to renounce plural marriage in order to join the Union in 1890. Since then, polygamy has been relegated in society to a select few rustic townships. Communes, really. Cults, one might say.

But to quote the immortal Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a-changing.” Of late, the most conservative Mormons and the most liberal secularists have joined together in support of polygamy. Their reasons may drastically diverge, but their movement might be gradually gaining ground. We cannot possibly ignore this dire national crisis, and thus, in the great spirit of Thomas Paine, we take up rhetorical arms to assail the mighty, overextended hand of government.

Natural law allows us life, liberty and property. While certain Western religions might consider the spousal issue a problem of property, liberty will be our focus. We should first make one thing clear: Warren Jeffs can go straight to hell. Far more pederast than prophet, he deserves to spend the rest of his life dropping soap in prison. Possibly being purchased for cigarettes by White Power Lou and becoming his 29th male bride.

It’s not just that he exploited and abused 14-year-old girls, though. We’re rather pissed that he’s ruining legitimate polygamy for the rest of us. Like any extremist, he distracts from the better angels of the movement. Truly, his religious overtures distract the public from the true civic argument. No government has the right to restrict the freedom to marry. Government cannot offer services to some citizens and not others. It is an egregious violation of our nation’s principles, not to mention the First and 14th amendments. Marriage should be between consenting adults, regardless of race, sexual orientation or quantity.

We must offer marriage to every citizen or none at all. Polygamy may be anathema to some. It may run counter to everything they know from home or church. But that’s just the issue. Religious practices often seem strange. To an outside observer, Catholic communion is almost incoherent. As for Judaism, who breaks good dishware at a wedding, then risks serious injury as drunken men toss one another around on an armless chair? Pentecostal revivals are often mistaken for psych wards. Nevertheless, all this is accepted. But somehow, three people cannot legally love each other.

Accepting polygamy is not so far out of the mainstream as you might think. The Libertarian Party supports its legalization. The individualist feminist Wendy McElroy has spoken out in its favor. The political landscape of our country makes polygamy nigh impossible, but we can certainly dream of a more free and equitable future.

One wife is enough for us (each, not together), but if a man wants two wives or a woman wants three husbands, let them be. Law can protect from oppression or become oppression itself. Polygamy amongst consenting adults hurts neither you, nor us, nor the nation. So let sleeping Mormons lie.