Polygamy Now
The unfolding story of polygamy in the United States

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Martin's 60th Birthday

Due to family illness, inclement weather, and other disasters, we decided to forego the usual elaborate right of passage (to old age?) . Instead, we had a small intimate gathering of three for Martin's 60th birthday. After eating Lisa's homemade cake, Karen and Lisa treated Martin to a birthday massage. Very nice!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Benefits of Living in Community

One of our neighbors sent this out to our community. The intentional community we live in has about thirty five families. We've changed some names per request.

Many of you are aware that I had a bit of a car accident during the recent snowstorm. My aging, high-mileage car sustained enough damage that it would cost me more to get it in driveable condition than it is worth. I have been without a car of my own since then. This has turned into an opportunity for me to really see all the good that is here in our community.

Having abandoned my car on the road, just off of the freeway, the tow truck driver told me he was unable to tow it to the shop for repair without my keys. During a heavy hailstorm, Deb was willing to drive me to my car to meet the tow truck driver with my keys. This is the same Deb who is scared to death to drive in such weather and whose car is no better equipped for snow than the car I crashed in was. She insisted on taking me until after her own car slid twice, getting no traction, before we even reached the first stop sign. I then had to insist that we abort the mission, but the fact that she was willing to do it for me under those conditions was very touching.

The tow truck driver ended up towing it for me sans keys, so now my car was at the shop but they could not look at it without any keys. Another neighbor knew of my situation and when she was going into Monroe to run some errands, she went out of her way to come over and invite me along so that I could deliver my keys to the shop. I can't tell you how much this meant to me as I had been trapped here for a few days at that point and very much needed to get out. She took me along on her errands to the store where we both did some shopping and she waited while I arranged with the shop to have my car looked at. I felt so relieved to think that I would have my car back soon.

Then my daughter became ill and called me from school needing to come home. Prior to my daughter's call, I had just made plans to go to lunch and a movie with Deb. I called Deb back to cancel our plans and she immediately dropped everything to drive me to my daughter's school to pick her up and bring her home to our community. I'm sure all of you parents can relate to how much something like this means.

Then my daughter's condition worsened. Her fever went up and she rapidly broke out into a hive-like rash all over her body. I managed to get an appointment for a doctor to see my daughter that evening. But still, I had no car and no way to get her to the doctor. Carrie told me to take her van, despite the fact that her wife has a compromised immune system and I did not know how contagious my daughter might be. I don't like to ask for favors, but here my daughter was feeling ill and very scared about this rash that was spreading over her body right before our eyes and though I tried to act calm in order to ease my daughter's fears, I was pretty scared myself. The loan of the van meant quite a lot to me and I wrapped my daughter up in a clean sheet to try to shield the van from any germs she might have.

Having given my daughter Motrin just before leaving, the fever went down significantly and amazingly, the rash all but disappeared by the time the doctor saw her. Of course, it came back full force a few hours after we arrived home and we were up most of the night, with me applying cortizone to each new area that broke out throughout the night. I needed Benadryl but did not have any. I put out a plea in email and got many many responses. Before I had a chance to read them all the next day, the doorbell rang and there was Alia with a box of Benadryl in her hand for my daughter to use. And what a difference the Benadryl made. Each time my daughter began to break out again over the next 2 days, she took the Benadryl and the rash stopped spreading and cleared up within minutes.

Who needs a car when you've got Robert arranging to have a Turkish rug dealer come right to our very own Common House with a large selection of beautiful rugs to buy? And no, I wasn't able to walk away without buying a very nice one for our living room.

Yesterday, as I was getting into Carrie's van to pick the girls up from the bus stop, Jane saw me and asked why I was in the van. She then offered for me to use her and Brand's car over the next week in the event that I do not have a car soon. And then today, Jack rang my doorbell because he had heard I had no car and he was headed into town and was offering to either take me along or pick something up for me if I needed anything.

Being without a car and spending more time here in our community has allowed me to take the time to talk to folks more too. I was treated to a wonderful evening a few nights ago as I got to listen to Lisa's and some of Martin's life stories. Both were engrossing and quite fascinating. I got the chance to witness Carrie sending some freshly made pot roast over to Warren in response to Cate's concern that he would not eat well while she is in Tennessee. In the process, I was able to have a wonderful little discussion with Warren about the preciousness of life and catch up some with Warren who also has some fascinating life stories. I have had the chance to talk with Rob and hear about his steady recovery and about his recent scenic hikes and wilderness walks. I'm very encouraged to hear how well he is doing despite the aggressive treatments he is enduring. Erin, knowing I don't get all the our community list mail, personally stopped by to speak with me about the White Elephant party this Saturday. I had considered bowing out, but how can I be disinterested in it when a fellow community member cared enough about my attendance as to walk over to my home and personally invite me? I got to connect with Paula who got me re-energized about the Good Vibes team and all the exciting learning opportunities and possibilities it represents.

All of these recent experiences, and probably more which I've forgotten to include, remind me how fortunate I am to be here and how special our community is when you really are in need.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Canadian Parliament to Consider Polygamy

Some brave souls in Canada (unnamed at their request) are submitting a packet of briefs to the 300 members of the Canadian parliament. The cover letter below speaks for itself.

We've added a Briefs link to our Resources column for navigating to these briefs. They're somewhat detailed, but make for excellent reading. Our own family is described in one of the briefs.

Dear Member of Parliament,

The following briefing notes about the issue of polygamy have been prepared for you so that you can be better informed about this issue as it becomes more prominent on the political stage.

There is a growing civil rights movement in the U.S. (see Briefing Note No. 1 and No. 5), which aims at having anti-polygamy laws declared unconstitutional and having polygamy recognized as a legitimate family structure. There are currently two court cases that are working their way through the American judicial system. It is the aim of each of these court cases to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The first court case, entitled Bronson versus Swenson (see Briefing Note No. 3), was launched in 2003. On September 25, 2006, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals accepted written briefs. A three-judge panel is now reviewing these briefs.

The second court case involves Rodney Holm’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court (see Briefing Note No. 4). On Friday, November 17, 2006, a letter from the U.S. Supreme Court was received by Utah’s Attorney General’s office. In the letter, U.S. Supreme Court officials requested the Attorney General’s office to respond to the petition by December 13, 2006. After it receives that response, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case. The fact that the high court has requested a response from Utah’s Attorney General indicates that there is interest in hearing the case.

Given the arguments made in the written briefs submitted for each of these two court cases, it is highly probable that anti-polygamy laws will be declared unconstitutional in United States. When this happens, it will be difficult to argue that Canada’s anti-polygamy laws will withstand a challenge to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, since the Canadian laws would be struck down using similar legal arguments.

The Canadian government did commission some research papers on the issue of polygamy (see Briefing Note no. 2) and released these research papers to the public in January 2006. Many of the research reports were written by people who currently work as professors of law, at various universities in Canada. Two of the four research papers called for the decriminalization of polygamy and the creation of laws to protect the rights of the people living within that family unit. So far, the Government of Canada has not chosen to act on that legal counsel.

Irregardless of what happens in the U.S., there are good reasons why polygamy should be decriminalized and recognized as a legitimate family structure. Two single mothers will soon be sending to you a position paper outlining these reasons (see Briefing Note no. 6 for an executive summary of the paper).

It is also important to realize that, here in Canada, polygamy was accepted as a legitimate family structure in aboriginal cultures before the arrival of European missionaries and it was a family structure adopted by officials of the Hudson Bay Company during the fur trade (see Briefing Note No. 7). Early Mormon immigrants to Canada accepted plural marriage as a legitimate family structure (see Briefing Note No. 8). Normal men and women descended from all of these polygamous family structures and their descendants are prominent in Canada. Recent immigrants to Canada also practise polygamy today because polygamy is accepted as a legitimate family structure in their country of origin (see Briefing Note No. 9). Polygamy has been a legitimate family structure for thousands of years in human history and continues to be in other cultures and countries.

There are other people, in both Canada and the U.S., who live in polygamous family structures and these people reject characterizations of their lives as abnormal, sex-focused or prone to child abuse. Some of them have been courageous enough to publicly declare that they live in this type of family structure and that they have harmonious, loving homes (see Briefing Notes No. 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 for their personal stories). Children raised in polygamous families were courageous enough to participate in a public demonstration (see Briefing Note No. 5) in order to tell the world that they have never experienced the horror stories they have heard about in the media. They also want to tell the world: “We are not brainwashed, mistreated, neglected, malnourished, illiterate, defective or dysfunctional … [we] are useful, responsible, productive members of society…freethinking and independent.” You will also learn that Nelson Mandela was raised as a child in a polygamous family structure (see Briefing Note No. 10). He states that it was a very positive experience for him as a child. He never felt alone; he felt loved and secure; and he was very happy.

I look forward to hearing from you about this issue. The position paper will be forwarded to you within the next few weeks. We hope that you will find it very informative and helpful to you, as you deal with this issue.