White House Press Secretary Deflects Polygamy Question

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.

Source: Townhall

32 thoughts on “White House Press Secretary Deflects Polygamy Question”

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  2. Charles Manson asked all the girls if he could fu*k them. Most of his children left. The ones who stayed had knives.

  3. Ethicist, Thanks for your response. I am just disappointed that licenced marriage, which carries many benefits in our society, isn’t more inclusive. Why should you or anyone be denied those benefits except by choice? LoL, I’ll put my soapbox aside now too.

  4. (Playing catch-up from yesterday)

    “On the other hand, I feel strongly that no one should assume an adult woman has been exploited, victimized or is unintelligent for choosing whatever family style suits her.” (Ethicist)

    Note to self: Ethicist is correct.

    Thank you for the honest and well reasoned enlightenment.

  5. lottakatz, the “add-on” was totally tongue in cheek. People tend to think that because I’m the one without the marriage license, I must be a victim. I was raised in a large Roman Catholic family where the idea of multiple wives was not ever a question, but we were also raised to be open-minded, and I suppose it really didn’t surprise anyone when I chose this path.

    Our grown kids (my step-kids as it were) look at me as another mom, and none of them has chosen group marriage, probably because they’ve seen some of the downsides to so many personalities trying to mesh. But they’re very positive about how they were raised.

    Briefly, regarding the legal issues I mentioned, our county decided that going after us for any version of polygamy wasn’t going to fly. No extra marriage license = no crime in their eyes. It was a small victory in an otherwise unpleasant year.

    My version of plural marriage bears no resemblance to, and utterly rejects, any situation where someone, especially a teenager, is coerced into any form of marriage or other contract. On the other hand, I feel strongly that no one should assume an adult woman has been exploited, victimized or is unintelligent for choosing whatever family style suits her. (stepping off soapbox now)

  6. The granma question, for the uninitiated, is related to the fact that grandpa on daddy warbucks side had eight wives. Which one is granma is a common question in Mormon and gypsie families like the Romani.

  7. There is only one question that Fox News needs to ask The Willard: Who’s your granma?
    There is only one question that Fox News needs to ask President Obama:
    Do you drink Five Wives Vodka? One follow-up if yes: Straight up or laying down?

  8. Kathleen Weber: “With a hundred thousand or more families (Samuel Taylor’s estimate in “I have Six Wives” in the 50′s, that is a lot of people trying to exist without help on the underground.”


    Any citizen having to live an underground life when their lifestyle is not inherently criminal (in a secular frame of reference, thief, baby raper etc.) is wrong IMO. I don’t care if you’re talking about smoking dope or having two husbands or same sex marriage.

  9. Ethicist, Do you live in a community where your marital association was learned or were you raised in a community where you were predisposed by early training that multiple wives were expected or were you/are you just a free spirit that came to the situation and thought ‘this can work, how cool’? Why do you call yourself the “add-on”, “add-on” is a loaded description and not necessarily flattering to my ‘ears’. I hope that was a bit of sarcasm.

    I am generally a free spirit, I wouldn’t train my hypothetical kids that hetro is ‘better’ than homo, traditional marriage is morally ‘better’ that open families etc. I don’t support foreclosing options whichever direction that foreclosing works. If you had a choice and it works for you, good for you and I wish your family well; I’m sorry to hear your husband has become disabled, a situation I can relate to.

    I actually think the legalization of polygamy, polyandry and open associations for the purpose of being a family should be entirely legal regardless of sexual identity.

    I don’t like the idea of girl children being raised to believe that being wed as wife #4 to a patriarch at the age of 16 is a good thing as a way to gain ghod’s favor or as their purpose in life. I wouldn’t wish that on young men in a polyandrous society or on gays trying to ‘pass’. That’s just a waste to me. Life is too short to be programed.

  10. The Bishop of the North African Church long ago said he believed that there was no conflict between plural marriage and the Bible. It began not with a cave man image of relationships between a man and his chattel, but because after marriage nomadic married women might never see their sisters again. No telephones, no cars, and little protection against abuse.

    I wonder why the State feels that judges, police and jails are the only way to resolve conflict of ideas in our society and weapons that make people ill, Nazi mind control methods, brutality are the best means of resolving conflict. They are certainly the most expensive an trauma. I have never en a case where trauma actually changed behavior permanently or for the good of any society with the exception of WWII in Europe an China. Maybe someone can think of more.

    Basically, in the yearning for Zion Ranch example, the public was given a riveting example of how Polygamy should not be practiced. We were able to see inside only one large and dysfunctional family. We need more and better trained social workers and school counselors and bishops and not a prohibition that will drive dysfunction deeper underground and make any endangered young people almost impossible to find.

    I do not favor any system of marriage where the man make all the decisions and his family must accept them without recourse to civil, religious, and police protection. With a hundred thousand or more families (Samuel Taylor’s estimate in “I have Six Wives” in the 50’s, that is a lot of people trying to exist without help on the underground.

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