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Polygamy is the exercise of having two or more spouses at one time, and it is a lifestyle choice that is more common in the United States than most would expect. In America there are between 30,000 and 50,000 Mormon polygamists, and between 500,000 and 10 million total polygamists. The numbers differ so widely because many are afraid to admit to the general public that they are non-monogamist. They have everything to lose. They risk all sorts of judgement. If they are exposed, they could be fired. They could be ostracized by their friends and family. Some even risk losing their children. Polygamy is currently illegal in the United States, but activist groups are working to protect the rights of polygamists to have the relationships of their choice. Around 2015 many activist groups began to emerge in the United States in the wake of same sex marriage being legalized. Polygamists believed that it was unfair that two men could marry but not two men and a woman. They are still actively fighting for their rights today.
This movement and these groups gained their popularity in America, but Canada started the process back in January of 2006 when their Justice Department recommended decriminalizing polygamy. In the United States, The Centennial Park Action Committee is founded by Marlyne Hammon. She is in a polyamorous relationship, and would like to see polygamy decriminalized. Polyamory is when multiple people love and are possibly in a relationship with each other, but they are not necessarily married. Another activist group is the Christian Evangelical Polygamy Organization. This organization was created by Mark Henkel who believes the next civil rights battle will be over the right to practice polygamy. Many would think that it’s odd that a Christian group would be supporting polygamy, however polygyny can be seen in many instances in the Bible. Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon all had anywhere from two to 700 wives. Polygyny is the form of polygamy where there is one man with many wives. But there is also the branch of polygamy called polyandry which is where one woman has many husbands. This is less commonly seen, but it does exist.
An example of this is the Principle Voices, an activist group run by women supporting polyandry. These groups and many others are fighting for the legalization of polygamy. They reject the idea that only two people should be allowed to marry each other, and they recognize that polygamist rights are one of the steps toward full equality in America. They challenge the idea that monogamy is the norm for humans. Ninety-eight percent of the United States’ population disapproves of polygamy, so challenging monogamy does not go over well. However, monogamy did not become practiced regularly among humans until around 10,000 years ago to keep land within small families. Husbands could legally beat their wives until 1979. Additionally, husbands could rape their wives legally, in some states, until 1993. Polygamists value love and equality.
There are many pros to polygamy, and yet it is illegal to practice in America. In polygamous societies the people are sexually and emotionally happier. They are economically better off. They fair better in social situations. Children receive more attention and care. Lastly, there is a significantly lower divorce and cheating rate. Furthermore, polygamist activist groups challenge the belief that there is one correct way to live and to love. As of 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that every United States citizen has “the full right to engage in private conduct without government intervention.” They believe that this applies to polygamous relationships, and this is major tool used in court cases when arguing for their relationships to be legalized. They believe their relationships should be treated the same way as any other relationship in America. However, monogamists fight back. They may judge and ridicule. While the average day person may not understand, America is changing and polygamists will make their voices be heard.
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