Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Polygamy case is about religious freedom

A follow up on our previous discussion about the recent court decision in Utah. From The HuffPo first, de-coupling polygamy and same sex marriage:
Gay rights however do not inexorably lead to the legalization of polygamy. While the ability to choose one's sexual partners is an important element of constitutionally protected privacy, the government may have stronger reasons to ban polygamy than gay sexual or marital relationships. Polygamy has long been associated with unique harms: the repression of women; underage girls too young to consent forced into ma rriage; the severe displacement of young men in geographically concentrated communities. Gay rights don't pose any of these problems. Rather, they are about the very opposite: reducing the oppression of minorities, allowing adults to engage in consensual sexual activity, and minimizing the social and psychological displacement caused by anti-gay discrimination....
And next, explaining how this is really about religious freedom. You remember religious freedom, don't you? (my emphasis)
What's unconstitutional is Utah's ban on a married person cohabiting with another, and here's why. First, the court says the law impinges on religious freedom by targeting only religious people for prosecution. Adulterers sometimes cohabit -- that is, live as a spouse with someone else -- but the state admitted to only going after Mormon cohabiters. As a result, the judge ruled, Utah's law was in practice discriminatory. Second, the court said that this distinct treatment of cohabiters was irrational. If a married person cohabiting with another is a threat to society, then why target only religiously motivated people? Utah, by only restricting in practice some cohabitation by married people, violates the baseline requirement of the Constitution that every law must further some rational government policy.

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