Families Not Felons is collecting insightful and substantive comments
from people around the web who are sharing their reactions with Families Not Felons to the Senate passing and Governor Herbert signing HB99 (see how your Senators voted). The Governor received over 1000 calls asking him to veto the bill, while only receiving 21 calls in support of him signing it. HB99 makes living plural marriage a felony, punishable for up to five years in prison, and if in conjunction with another crime, punishable up to 15 years in prison. What are your thoughts? Please weigh in in the comments below.
Sean Jessop | liberty advocate, grew up in polygamy
“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” – Frédéric Bastiat
When punishment is warranted, actual harm should be the deciding factor. The fact that 3 or more people decide to live together does not mean harm is done. Legislating morality/behavior because you don’t agree with it does not equate to a better society. I don’t know anyone that has all the answers to societal problems, and justification of force of law against a behavior that you see disagreeable is not a solution to the issue. This harms more than it helps.
Broken families do more harm than multiple parents. Making this a felony is causing harm when harm was not necessarily done.
Colton Winder | political activist, polygamous ancestors
Religious bigotry is alive and well in the Utah State Legislature. Maybe someday they’ll learn, again, that using the government to persecute others for their religious beliefs is a two-edged sword. Probably about the time that the federal government has the LDS church in a headlock and an 1890-style manifesto is released once again changing the definition of marriage. More legislation is not the solution. This has been a despicable and flagrant violation of the First Amendment as Rep. Noel and Sen. Van Tassel have pushed for legislation respecting an establishment of religion and prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I fully expect that this will somehow return to haunt them. A century of legislation like this has not ended abuse. We’re insane to think that more of the same will end it going forward. As long as people are persecuted and pushed onto the fringes of society, abuse will continue to happen in the darkness.
Also, it’s beyond ridiculous that orgies are perfectly legal in Utah, but as soon as the participants dare call themselves married, it becomes a felony.
No matter how much Mormons scream and howl that they aren’t polygamists and that “those people” are not Mormons, they will never be able to divorce polygamy from Mormonism. If not for the LDS church, there wouldn’t be polygamy on this scale in Utah. The fundamentalists may not be “Mormons,” but they will always be part of the religious tradition of Mormonism. Rep. Noel can’t change that.
From the comments that Rep. Noel has made about his bill, it has nothing to do with ending abuse and everything to do with settling a religious vendetta.
Jarel Anderson | civil liberty advocate, polygamous friends and family
This law is all about persecuting a religious minority to further distance the LDS church from the practice of polygamy. Abusive practices and behaviors are already illegal, so adding back this layer only turns consenting adults in family relationships into criminals.
Jennifer Huss Basquiat | social justice advocate, former Mormon, feminist
What I’ll never be able to wrap my head around is that those who practice polygamy are not asking for state marriage licenses. They aren’t asking the state to legally recognize their unions; they answer to a higher power for that. So what this absurd law amounts to is making felons out of law abiding citizens who have structured their families according to their closely held religious beliefs. And make no mistake, there are already laws in place that target underage marriage, abuse, and fraud. That IS NOT what this current law is about. Rather, it legalizes bigotry and ignorance. AGAIN.
Shawn Tabrizi | active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
I was talking… about outlawing things that are morally questionable to the majority. I believe that maintaining freedom means that we should allow people to say and do as they please, until their actions begin to harm others, or take away their freedoms. As a simple example, alcohol is legal. But driving under the influence isn’t. And yes, I think we should take the same approach to drug use.
This serves as a good model for me. Polygamy should be legal, inasmuch as it is taking place between consenting adults. Our laws should protect from abuses of that liberty, such as coercion, underage marriages, etc.
Shannon Rich | attorney
I wonder if my Illinois law license would get reciprocity in Utah. I’m just livid.
First of all ‘purport’ is speech, Constitutionally protected speech under our cherished first amendment. I can purport right now to be an astronaut and although the state may not recognize it – I can scream it all day long.
Second, how do Utah judges uphold this worthless law in light of the VERY CLEAR holding and language in Lawrence V Texas? The Court held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the 14th Amendment. This immediately invalidated all the inane laws constructed to make sodomy illegal, which we all know was the governments way of punishing homosexual men for sexual activity. Our Supreme Court has said, stay out of our families, stay out of our bedrooms and respect the deeply private nature of our intimate relationships.
As Kennedy wrote: “The petitioners [Lawrence and Garner] are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”
Utah was a very vocal opponent of this decision (of course) and they lost. I predict when this law goes in front of SCOTUS, they will lose again. Another embarrassment for a state who instead of spending time, money & resources fighting the very real issue of child neglect, abuse, sexual abuse and welfare fraud- is instead using their resources to attack consensual adults engaging in private conduct in their own homes.
I’m so so sorry plural families are dealing with this. It’s really an embarrassment to the entire state of Utah.
A big thanks to these commenters and their blessing to share their thoughts with Families Not Felons. Please weigh in and let Families Not Felons know what YOU think in the comments below.