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Are Laws Barring Polygamy Destined to Fall? Law Prof Defends Marriage of Two

Posted Nov 14, 2012 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Critics are attacking laws barring polygamy as an assault on religious liberty, a throwback to another time when contraception was banned and homophobia prevailed.

Emory University law professor John Witte Jr. isn’t among them. He defends anti-polygamy laws in a Guest Voices column for the Washington Post. “I argue that polygamy is dangerous because it harms women, children, and men alike, and will allow some religious communities to become a law unto themselves,” he writes.

Witte is working on a history of polygamy due to be published next year, the Washington Post reported last month in a separate article. His research, he says, supports marriages that are limited to two people.

Polygamy harms young women who may be coerced into early marriages, he says. When rival wives are added, women are exploited and forced to make do with dwindling resources. Children receive fewer resources in such homes without healthy models of love and equality, he says. And men are harmed, he argues, when polygamy promotes ostracism of rival younger males.

Witte defended tradition in another Guest Voices column for the Post published in October entitled “Why monogamy is natural.”

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