Question about polygamy in 'Big Love'

Nyria

Diggin TPF
O.G.
Aug 20, 2006
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I am confused about something. How is polygamy 'illegal'? (I'm not asking if you agree with it or not ;) )
I mean I can understand when a man marries a woman and then goes and then 'legally' marries another in another State or country...

But in the case of 'Big Love' he is legally married to one (Barb) and then the other 2 are his 'wives' but they never had a legal marriage. - so what's the problem?

Isn't it just like with Hugh Hefner and his many girlfriends? Or like people who are polyamorous?
How is ilegal if the marriages aren't legalized?
So confusing.

Thanks =)
 
Aug 17, 2008
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I think they should only go to jail if a) the wife is underage or b) the wives don't know about each other and there are multiple "legal" marriages or c) they are abusive or coercive. Basically, things that aren't okay in any context in this society. Otherwise, if multiple consenting adults want to live together and call themselves married (even though they legally aren't) I think that should be okay. I believe Warren Jeffs went to jail for arranging a non consensual marriage between a 14 yo and her cousin, not for living with multiple women himself.
 

ChicBoBeep

hello
Dec 17, 2007
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I think because of polygamy's association with illegal things...like forcing underage women into marriage, some will "cheat" the system and have some of the women and children go on welfare. i think they touched upon this in the first season, but basically if the henderson's keep their noses clean of illegal actions, they'll be okay. if they do illegal things (perhaps even bill getting all tangled up with the compound, etc), then the state will start to investigate their lifestyle. theyre not legally married, but are all living as if they're married, have children, own homes together and (maybe this is what could do them in) are married according to their religion.
 
Aug 17, 2008
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^^Married according to your religion doesn't matter though, it's not illegal to be "married in the eyes of God" as some say. If that were true, gay couples who consider themselves married but didn't have legal ceremonies would also be breaking the law, and they aren't, they just don't have any legal rights as married people. And anyone can co-own a house, real estate investors do this all the time. You can also have children outside a marriage of course, do you really think they would throw everybody who has kids out of wedlock in jail? Of course committing welfare fraud is illegal though, but it's illegal in any context, you don't need polygamy to commit welfare fraud, plenty of non-polygamists do it too.
 

RaeBelle

The Commish
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Jan 15, 2008
17,757
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I'm not an expert, but as best I can tell, the line is crossed when you call multiple women (or men) your wife (or husband). Hefner is okay because he calls them his girlfriends. A man with a wife and a mistress is okay because they have the different titles (wife & mistress).

Polygamy laws are not generally enforced. They may be used if someone was suspected of an additional crime.

Generally, I believe polygamists marry the first spouse in a legal ceremony & a religious ceremony. The additional spouses are then married through only religious ceremonies.
 

ChicBoBeep

hello
Dec 17, 2007
311
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I'm thinking now that it might just be illegal as in you just can't have multiple marriages recognized by the state, as in you just can't get married to more than one person legally. like you can't get a legal document saying you're married, your second or third spouse won't have the same legal rights as your first...but in the privacy of your own home you can do whatever you want as long as you don't do anything else illegal...like write off a second spouse as a dependent on your taxes, have your third wife file for welfare under false pretenses, force an underage girl to "marry" you.

the reason that in the show they want to keep it under wraps and are afraid of it getting out is because of the social stigma, especially in utah. it could ruin bill's business.

sooo...maybe thats it. lol.
 

Nyria

Diggin TPF
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Aug 20, 2006
12,158
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I'm thinking now that it might just be illegal as in you just can't have multiple marriages recognized by the state, as in you just can't get married to more than one person legally. like you can't get a legal document saying you're married, your second or third spouse won't have the same legal rights as your first...but in the privacy of your own home you can do whatever you want as long as you don't do anything else illegal...like write off a second spouse as a dependent on your taxes, have your third wife file for welfare under false pretenses, force an underage girl to "marry" you.

the reason that in the show they want to keep it under wraps and are afraid of it getting out is because of the social stigma, especially in utah. it could ruin bill's business.

sooo...maybe thats it. lol.

yeah - except that when they first met Heather's dad they were worried because he's a cop.

Maybe it's just an old law that's on the books that would be hard to prosecute in court.

PS - I would marry Margie - she makes me happy with her joy LOL
 

ChicBoBeep

hello
Dec 17, 2007
311
0
yeah i think it would be hard to prosecute since you'd have to gather all the evidence showing that they're "married." no one really wants to do that unless the person (or couple) is doing harm to someone else (as in, forced the other into the situation).

am i getting closer?? ;)
 

Charlie

O.G.
Apr 28, 2007
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the reason that in the show they want to keep it under wraps and are afraid of it getting out is because of the social stigma, especially in utah. it could ruin bill's business. sooo...maybe thats it. lol.

I personally think polygamy is nasty. It is like having your husband cheat on you in your own face. I hope I don't offend anyone with my comment.

Anyway, I think I've watched the show 2-3 times top. I always though polygamy was normal in Utah so now I am even more confused :P

ETA: Never mind, I read up and only 5% does it.
 
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cheermom09

O.G.
Apr 18, 2009
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I don't know how it is defined as "illegal".

However, part of the problem is that these men father all of these children with their "wives" but can't support them all financially. So, they end up on public assistance with no hope of ever getting off because the women don't work and in their eyes are "married" to the father of their children.

Also, agreeing with the forced marriages of underage girls. Sometimes even forced marriages with a relative.
 
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