Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shacking Up

While I've been resting up from the strain of posting every day, I have been reading a lot. I thought Daughter of the Saints would be more concerned with the life of growing up in a polygamous family, but it turned out to be a lot more about schisms within the offshoots from the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

The thing that I wonder is why in the world the US government even cares about polygamy. I think the problem with it isn't polygamy itself, it's the marrying of young teenage girls to men several times their ages; the exclusion of teenage boys who are thrown out of the community for the smallest infractions so that they can't attach themselves to, or be attached to by, girls their own age. Certainly polygamy as it's practiced by groups like the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints is wrong. To me, polygamy is a feminist issue. The girls and women in these LDS offshoots are treated unequally in so many ways, not the least of which is that the men hold the power and the whole point of having many wives is to have many children.

Thinking about polygamy ties right back into conversations I've been having with friends about Proposition 8. One pointed out that the problem is a semantic one around association of the word marriage with a church-based ritual and religious beliefs, and sent me a column by conservative Douglas Kmiec about breaking "marriage" from the state-issued license. This makes sense to me, though people love traditions and I don't think we'll wind up with everyone getting civil unions recognized everywhere and some people getting "married" in their places of worship and/or by clergy.

The law should protect the rights of 13 year old girls who don't want to marry (and should protect teens who do want to marry from making hasty choices). The law should protect gays and lesbians from having their relationships ignored no matter what state they are living in or visiting. Beyond that, why does the state/federal government even care about what consenting adults call their relationship?

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