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Should polygamy in Mitt Romney's family tree be an issue?

Published April 23, 2012 4:56 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As Mitt Romney closes in on the Republican nomination for president, there's been some conversation about the history of polygamy in his family. The families of many native Utahns, politicians included, have at least some history of polygamy, but Romney's family took it a bit further than the rest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His paternal great-grandfathers lived in Mexico and continued the practice after the church abandoned polygamy in 1890, according to a story we ran in 2006. Both men had multiple wives.

That was his family's last generation to practice polygamy, however. Mitt's grandfather had a single wife, as did his father.

He won't be the only candidate with a history of polygamy in his family, though. This Washington Post story details the plural marriage on Barack Obama's father's side, where his great-grandfather and his grandfather had multiple wives.

I've heard far less about the plural marriage in Obama's family history, maybe that's because there's already been controversy over his birth and upbringing.

But it also makes me wonder if the conversation about the polygamy in Romney's family tree is a way of talking about his LDS faith — not necessarily popular in the evangelical community.

Romney spoke publicly about his family history Friday, something he does rarely, in response to the Montana governor's comments that it could be problematic during the election.

So here's my question: Should it matter? Does it bother you? Do you think he should he address it further, or is it far enough in the past that it's no longer important?