Monday, September 22, 2008

Anti Polygamy laws hang on by a thread.

Other aspects of this story are being covered in other blots, such as "The Plural Life" and "I Perceive." What I'd like to focus on is this statement;

The Deseret News - "Brigham Young University law professor Fredrick Gedicks questioned why polygamy itself remains criminalized, noting there are other groups more dangerous to conventional social values than polygamists.

'We do not punish membership in groups, we punish behavior,' he said. 'So if there are crimes occurring in polygamous society, then prosecute the crimes. Don't criminalize the society.' "

Really, the only crimes being prosecuted in Texas right now are a direct result of polygamy being criminal. To review, anti polygamy laws are so shakey in the eyes of every state that has the opportunity to prosecute them that they won't prosecute a "clean" polygamy case. That would be a case where there is no formal bigamy, the registration concurrently of two or more marriages with the state, and no ineligible partners. Ineligible partners would be a relative that is too close, such as a mother and daughter or a person that is too young per state law to have given consent to sexual behavior.

IF Polygamy were legal only the mother/daughter type relationships would be barred from marriage to the same man or cousins too close for state law to allow. What we find being prosecuted (and I remark on this over and over and over again) are relationships that would be legal, if only they were monogamous.

Polygamy as criminal behavior is on such shakey ground that it cannot be prosecuted. It does however create secondary crimes by preventing legal marriage between two people who would otherwise do nothing wrong. It BARS the cover of marriage that would make relationships legal. As has oft been remarked on this blog, Texas doesn't have any trouble with a 14 year old girl having sex with a 40 year old man. They just have trouble if she isn't married to him or to someone else and they don't prevent, despite what you may believe, men from marrying girls. They even don't care if she's been married and divorced already, something else that is possible.

Technically all that would be necessary for a 14 year old girl to have legal sex in Texas, with just about anyone, would be that she marry legally in some way. Then she would be free to do whatever with whomever, even if she got a divorce.

Polygamy is a legal and political hot potato. Law enforcement knows it can't prosecute it by itself, but knows they can't get themselves re-elected if they acknowledge that, so they look for salacious situations like 12 year olds spiritually married to Warren Jeffs or allegations of Child Porn with Tony Alamo and allegations of brutality and child labor with "Buffalo Bill" Hawkins. Then they claim they're after "Polygamy" and the press goes along.

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kbp said...

"Technically all that would be necessary for a 14 year old girl to have legal sex in Texas, with just about anyone, would be that she marry legally in some way."

I had seen someplace that the limit of age a judge could approve for marriage was 15 YO. I did not look into it further, with the source being some web site listing all state limits, I am uncertain if it's accuracy.

Just FYI. :)

The Pharisee said...

The interesting thing is to look at Texas law in actual practice. I, and others have found BY NAME, those that have been married at age 15 and age 14 in Texas, after the passage and activation of the new law. Clearly there is some kind of loophole.

In any case, if you can get married ANYWHERE, LEGALLY in the United States, say New Jersey (where I have found extremely young people getting married) you would then be legally married in Texas, and as a result, not a subject of pedophilia assaults.

The point continues to be that Texas does not ultimately protect a young girls from sexual relations, even with an older man. Texas discourages that behavior, it is true, but it does not ultimately protect them from it.

That brings up the question of whether or not the law makes it wrong. The answer is no.