Friday, March 10, 2006


There are two, count them two articles in the March 10 issue of Slate on Big Love, a new HBO series on polygamy. What I don't get is how polygamy can possibly be illegal. Since a second marriage is not valid, it would seem that polygamy is no more possible than gay marriage. It simply is not recognized as a valid state. But that's different from saying that it's illegal. And we certainly don't criminalize people for having sexual relationships with more than one person at a time. So what does it really mean to say that polygamy is illegal?

1 comment:

TatoBrujo said...

While polygamy is not technically or generally illegal, bigamy is. Bigamy means that an individual is married to two people at the same time and at least one of the marriages is a legal marriage. Most western countries have laws making any second marriage a crime. For example, in the United States, because of the actual legally binding contract any married person makes upon getting legally married, that person is under obligation not to marry again as long as the first marriage continues; stipulations of the marriage license applying.

bigamy \big"a*my\, n. [OE. bigamie, fr. L. bigamus twice married; bis twice + Gr. ? marriage; prob. akin to Skt. j[=a]mis related, and L. gemini twins, the root meaning to bind, join: cf. F. bigamie.] (Law) The offense of marrying one person when already legally married to another.

Bigamy is the criminal offence of registering a second marriage with the state when a first marriage is still recognized. Polygamy is commonly practiced without actually breaking the law simply by only registering one of the marriages with the state. There are perfectly pleasant and happy marriages without government intrusion into their private matters. And we should all have a right to a “better marriage” of our own choice. Submitting to the government's view of marriage also means accepting their view of divorce. Polygamists don't have the same general need for divorce that is so common among monogamists. Anyone who want marry any one person, doesn't necessarily have to abandon a previous marriage and family to do it. Of course, as with any marriage or social contract, anyone involved should understand exactly what it means enter into a polygamous relationship. Once they understand that and do not break the law by registering multiple marriages with the state, then they can participate in plural marriage with a clear conscience.