Social conservatives are newly abuzz about polygamy.
Until last week, a Utah statute declared that "a person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person." In a new ruling, a judge has declared that while marrying Ann when already married to Sue can remain a criminal offense, cohabiting with Ann and Sue cannot. Formal polygamy stays illegal. But so long as a polygamous family doesn't try to acquire state recognition for their multi-spouse arrangement, they can live together, have sex as they please, and procreate without running afoul of any laws. The winner in the case, the star of the reality TV show Sister Wives, reportedly has four wives and 17 children, but only one of those wives is married to him in the eyes of the state.
Some conservatives are arguing that this case vindicates their predictions about the consequences of the sexual revolution. "The inexorable logic of the end of traditional marriage laws leads us to legalized polygamy," Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary. "Noting this doesn’t mean that the political and cultural avalanche that has marginalized opposition to gay marriage is wrong. But it should obligate those who have helped orchestrate this sea change and sought to denigrate their opponents as bigots to acknowledge that the end of prohibitions of other non-traditional forms of marriage follows inevitably from their triumph."