Wednesday, August 22, 2012

They're Not The Same


The Salt Lake Tribune published an article yesterday in which a Deputy Attorney General made some remarkable comments about Kody Brown's challenge of Utah's lame bigamy statute.  In a state whose principal church successfully tells whopping lies to its membership it is not hard to notice that senior law enforcement representatives live in utter la-la-land.

Jerrold Jensen, whose unenviable task is to face down Jonathan Turley, suggested to Tribune reporter, Lindsay Whitehurst, that the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision will not help the Browns' case.  Just so you can see the absurdity of his thinking, let me play this out in simple terms.

When John Geddes Lawrence and his male partner were arrested in Texas for gay sex acts, it had nothing to do with any attempts to marry.  Their crime was their private homosexual sexual activity.  Gays all across the nation would love to get legal marriage licenses.  That's what Proposition 8 was all about.  They don't just want "legal unions".  They don't want merely not to be classed as criminals any more - they want legal, state marriages - - you know - the kind with a state marriage license and certificate - the kind that only legal divorces can undo.

Polygamists have private sex - just like other married and single Americans.  The Lawrence decision made all of that legal, - constitutionally protected.  The sex and the private expression of it between (or among) consenting adults is beyond government's power.  Polygamists cannot be charged for their private sex, and Utah law enforcement officials damn well know it - which is why they now: a.) will never charge consenting adult polygamists, and they: b.) dread having to defend the bigamy statute.  They insist that the law is constitutional, but they insist on not enforcing it.  Let us read what AG Jerrold Jensen said -

'. . . State lawyers, on the other hand, point to other court decisions upholding the ban and say marriage can be regulated by the government. They argue the law is fairly applied to both polygamists and people who commit fraud by marrying more than one unknowing person at a time. Deputy Utah Attorney General Jerrold Jensen said polygamists shouldn’t rely on Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark 2003 right-to-privacy case that struck down laws banning intimate homosexual contact.

"Plaintiffs try to equate private sexual conduct in the home with marriage," he wrote in court documents. "They are not synonymous."'

Honestly, I am confused by his argument.  He says that we polygamists equate our private sexual conduct with marriage.  No, we don't.  We speak of our ladies as "wives", but neither in Arizona nor in Utah does the state recognize or legitimize these religiously-framed relationships.  In fact, in Utah, such relationships cannot claim official marriage status, because they are voided by law.

     30-1-2.   Marriages prohibited and void.
     The following marriages are prohibited and declared void:
     (1) when there is a husband or wife living, from whom the person marrying has not been divorced;
     (2) when the male or female is under 18 years of age unless consent is obtained as provided in Section 30-1-9;
     (3) when the male or female is under 14 years of age or, beginning May 3, 1999, when the male or female is under 16 years of age at the time the parties attempt to enter into the marriage; however, exceptions may be made for a person 15 years of age, under conditions set in accordance with Section 30-1-9;
     (4) between a divorced person and any person other than the one from whom the divorce was secured until the divorce decree becomes absolute, and, if an appeal is taken, until after the affirmance of the decree; and
     (5) between persons of the same sex. 
     (6) Marriages between cats and dogs (yes, I added this one !!!)

I think what Jensen is trying to say is that the crime we polyg's commit is that we think of our partners as "wives", even though the state forbids such thinking, and that we become felons because we wish our relationships were licensed.  On the contrary, we don't wish to have our unions legitimized by the state, and certainly no homosexual has ever been arrested for wishing he could have a marriage license.  Furthermore, Mr. Jensen, it seems to me that it is the state that wants to classify our non-legal relationships as "marriages", so that it can find us guilty of committing bigamy.  Tom Green spent several years in prison for having multiple wives, even though he was legally single.  

Jensen is ostensibly conceding that Lawrence will protect the Browns' sexual activities, but it will not protect the lifestyle they have adopted.  I agree.  Lawrence was never about lifestyle or relationships - it was only about private sex.  However, when Jensen gets to argue his tortured reasoning in January, will he be able to point to a single statute or Supreme Court decision that affirms the criminality of a RELATIONSHIP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?  I can hear Judge Waddoups giggling already.  Will Jensen argue that our crime stems from our improper use of the word "wife"?

In the 1940's, one of Rulon Allred's wives was arrested for playing the piano at a church frequented by polygamists.  If Arizona and Utah still think that kind of tyranny is okay, I should move to France.


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