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Dear gay marriage supporters, polygamist Joe Darger would like your backing, too

Published April 15, 2013 9:31 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The country waits for the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage, but Utah has an older marriage debate.

Joe Darger, who with his three wives detailed their life in the book "Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage," offers support for gay marriage and would like the same in kind. In a column Darger wrote for Salon.com, he briefly recounts times he and his family felt persecuted for their religion and lifestyle. Darger goes on to wonder whether public sentiment will swing his way.

Darger writes:

"And now, the gay marriage debate has turned the spotlight back on us. It's been fascinating to watch both sides strike out against polygamy. Some conservatives argue against gay marriage because it could be a "slippery slope" to polygamy — therefore abandoning their platform of limited government and calling for yet another law of government intervention. On the opposite side of the aisle, many liberals call for acceptance of gay marriage but claim that polygamy cannot be good for women and their rights, therefore it should remain illegal..."

Darger appears to be referring to a recent exchange between a conservative columnist and a liberal blogger. The only thing they seemed able to agree on was a dislike of polygamy.

Darger closes by saying and asking:

"As for me, I just don't want anyone telling me who I can or cannot love...

"I respect any consenting adult's right to marry whomever they want. Can you ever respect mine?"

We asked a few weeks ago whether the issue of gay marriage and polygamy was linked, but Darger might be raising a more pertinent question. Whatever the Supreme Court rules, it seems there is more acceptance for gay marriage than ever.

Will that lead to acceptance of polygamy?

UPDATE: Apparently wanting to jump on the contrarian bandwagon, Slate.com published an essay Monday also making the case for legalizing polygamy. The piece, written by New York writer Jillian Keenan, points out that legalizing polygamy could help bring otherwise law abiding families out of the woodwork, theoretically making it easier to prosecute criminals. She also makes the case that it's "hard to argue" with the idea that legalizing polygamy would preserve religious freedom and that real feminism means accepting women's choices even if they are different. Keenan concludes:

"The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less "correct" than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. [...] So let's fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States — and then let's keep fighting. We're not done yet."

— Nate Carlisle

Twitter: @natecarlisle