Decriminalization can be described as reducing the criminal penalties of a crime or removing the laws so that the act is no longer a crime. Polygamy is defined as “the offense of willfully and knowingly having more than one wife or husband at the same time. In every state, the law prohibits that any man or women from being married to more than one living person at a time”(Polygamy, 2005, Parags. 1-2). Polygamy has become more of a well-known religion today because of the tv shows that are about polygamy and the debates about whether or not polygamy should be illegal. There are many reasons why people are opposed to criminalizing polygamy including the fact of the First Amendment and people have the right to choose. With polygamy being illegal in every state, many oppose to criminalizing polygamy because of the fact that they have the right to choose, but people also opposed to the criminalization of polygamy because of the fact that they believe there is a better family support system within polygamy.
One of the reasons why people are opposed to the criminalization of polygamy is the fact of the First Amendment. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”(Harr, Hess K., Orthmann C., Kingsbury J., 2018, Pg. 126). The First Amendment states that they can’t make any laws that restrict their freedom of religion. The people that practice and live that lifestyle of polygamy, that’s their religion. They choose to follow that religious path and the people that oppose the criminalization of polygamy see that as violating their First Amendment. It violates their First Amendment because they have the right to practice polygamy as their religion, but there are laws against it saying that “if anyone is found guilty in the third degree of polygamy, then they could be punished by a fine, imprisonment, or both”(Polygamy, 2005, Parag. 3). In fact, “out of about 200 countries, about 25 percent of those countries allow polygamy”(Top ten reasons why the U.S. should legalize polygamy, 2015, Parag. 18), so one of the reasons people are opposed to the criminalization of polygamy is because in other countries it is legal to practice polygamy, so they see it as they don’t have the freedom to practice their religion when in other countries it is acceptable to practice their belief. Many opposed to the criminalization of polygamy because of the fact that it’s their religion and they should be able to exercise their religion as they want because after all, that is the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Another reason why proponents are opposed to criminalizing polygamy is because they should have the right to choose how they live their life. One point is just because they decide to live a different lifestyle than the rest of us, it doesn’t mean they are less important than anyone else. The people that are opposing to the criminalization of polygamy is trying to show everyone that they are just “normal” people that want to be equal as the rest of us, that they have rights too, and that they choose to live that lifestyle because they are practicing their religion or just chose that they wanted that lifestyle. People that live the lifestyle of polygamy are not seen as equal because they have multiple spouses, but in all reality that’s their choice to make in life because it all comes down to what makes them happy in life. For instance, we have the choice to choose what we want to do in life, to do what makes us happy and the freedom to make everyday choices. While the people that are practicing polygamy don’t have the freedom to do what they want to do and to do what makes them happy if polygamy is illegal and that’s another reason why people are opposed to the criminalization of polygamy.
Lastly, polygamy is not only seen as a religion or lifestyle but also as a family support system. When people practice polygamy and have multiple husbands or wives, they will most of the time also have multiple children. When they are in a polygamous relationship “there are multiple people to take care and watch the children and to also be there for each other”(Top ten reasons why the U.S. should legalize polygamy, 2015, Parags. 10-13). For example, if a child gets sick then one person could take care of the child while another person takes care of the rest of the children or the responsibilities. Another point to explain why some are opposed to the criminalization of polygamy is the fact that there would be fewer divorces in families and the families wouldn’t have to be separated, like when dealing in a real divorce. Another reason is that they would be less cheating among adults because they would be allowed to have multiple wives or men. The family is a big factor when considering whether or not polygamy should be illegal or not.
The laws that criminalize polygamy does infringe upon the rights of adults to make their own decisions. The laws that make polygamy a crime, is not allowing adults to make their own decisions because the laws are telling adults that the way they want to live is bad or that it should be considered a crime because we don’t see that as the right choice to live in life with multiple spouses because that is not seen as normal in society. Utilitarianism is defined as “the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number”(Albanese J., 2012, Pg. 37). There is moral conduct involved in the decision of whether polygamy should be criminalized or not because it involves the majority of people’s happiness and that decision should be based on what makes most people happy. If polygamy is something that makes a lot of people happy then why does it need to be criminalized?
Polygamy is when your in a plural marriage and either has multiple husbands or wives. Polygamy has become a debatable topic on whether or not it should be criminalized because of the fact that we don’t see it as a “normal” relationship. Some reasons why people think that polygamy should be decriminalized is because it’s their religion, they have the right to choose their own lifestyle, they should have the freedom to exercise their own religion as they please because that is what the First Amendment protects, and because they see it as a better family system. Today, more topics that were once not allowed are legal in society today, like same-sex marriage, so in a society that is constantly growing and changing, the topic of whether or not polygamy should be criminalized will be debatable until we grow and accept their beliefs.
- ‘Polygamy.’ (2018). Polygamy. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/anthropology-and-archaeology/customs-and-artifacts/polygamy
- Albanese, J. (2012). Chapter 4: Utilitarianism. In Professional ethics in criminal justice (Seventh ed.).Anderson, D. (2015, October 26).
- Top 10 Reasons The US Should Legalize Polygamy. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.listland.com/top-10-reasons-the-us-should-legalize-polygamy/
- Orthmann, C., Kingsbury, J., Hess, K., & Harr. (2018). Chapter 5: The First Amendment. In Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System (Seventh ed.). Cengage Learning.