White House press secretary Jay Carney is expected to answer an array of questions from taxes to Iraq to unemployment. With a critical motion depending in the Sister Wives case, one reporter decided to ask a simple question: “How does the president stand on polygamy?” Carney responded with stony silence and moved on.
The article below by Michael Brown noted the question and the response. Polygamy remains an uncomfortable subject for many liberals who support privacy rights generally. While many argue for the right of people to be left alone in their personal relationships, polygamy is treated as the Voldemort question — the subject which shall not be named. Last year, I wrote a column on this problem within the civil liberties community.
Ironically, the Sister Wives case offers the answer to such inquiries. We have not contested the right of the state to criminalize multiple marriage licenses. Rather, we are solely contesting the right of the state to criminalize private consensual relationships – “spiritual marriages.” Utah criminalizes “cohabitation” between consenting adults. Regardless of our religious beliefs or political orientation, we should agree to allow families to structure their relationships according to their own values and beliefs unless those practices harm others as with child abuse. The answer, as discussed in the earlier column, is that the President should stand with privacy.