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In which I piss people off. Again.

Did you know today is National Day of Hope? And that April is Child Abuse month? Meaning, "quit it, ya big meany," not "ollie ollie in come free." And that most states that haven't done so already are trying to pass bill that "clearly" define marriage. How are these two related? Well, I'll tell you.

For those that have been around my LJ for a while, you should remember that my father's family is devout Mormon. Meaning, came over with Brigham Young in the 1840s. Got the call to polygamy. Have (are currently) served (-ing) in the Presidency of the Mormon church. Did you catch that polygamy bit? I have a strong feeling that most people around here don't know much about polygamy, aside from a few anecdotal bits printed in the paper on occassion, etc. The public face of the Mormon church denounces polygamy, but they secretly continued practicing it until the 1930s when the public found out and got pissed off all over again. Modern Mormons revile polygamy today, but it's because of the black eye it gives the church. The state of Utah (which is the Church, don't kid yourself) rarely goes after their flagrant abuse of the law.

In a nutshell, polygamy is child abuse. I lived near, worked with, helped, rescued, and fought against polygamy while living in Southern Utah. In fact, I was 15 miles from the largest polyg community, Colorado City (also known as Hilldale and/or Short Creek, depending on who you talk to.) You know that saying, "old enough to bleed, old enough to breed?" Well, they live by that. The leader of the group determines who gets to marry which girl. Let's say Hezekiah, 63, sees a pretty young thing with her momma at the store. PYT is 12. The "prophet" (as their leader is called) says God wants them to marry. By the way, Hezekiah is her Step-Dad, Step-Uncle, and also a cousin. Because there are only so many ways 1300 people can join up in a community before the Family Tree begins to look like the Family Vine. And when one man dies, his wives are passed out amongst the men of the community, regardless of relation.

So she is taken from her home, forced to "marry" him (read: lie there while he rapes her) and give him babies. If she fights, if she shows displeasure, she's packed off and sent to Canada, Mexico, or GUESS WHERE NOW? Texas. Now there is a HUGE ranch (and I'm talking Texas huge - I have no idea where they got the money in oil country to buy such a big plot of land) in western Texas where they are trying to build a huge community to rival those in Bountiful, Alberta and Colorado City, AZ. (Or Hilldale, UT, if you stand off Main Street.)

So: the state of Texas is trying to force these guys out, or at least out of hiding so they can be arrested because there is sexual abuse, slavery, child abuse, and murder happening there. Which means the state of Texas is re-defining the law on marriage for the books. You may see where this is headed.

While I FULLY SUPPORT routing out polygamists (and don't kid yourself. This is not anything noble, anything spiritual... If you haven't been around it, you just don't know how fucking ugly it REALLY is.) it disturbs me that these laws are going to hurt many of my gay friends who DESERVE to have fair laws giving them the rights as legally married couples. It could hurt their chances to adopt children. All of which saddens me greatly. I firmly believe that if a person, or persons, regardless of being gay, straight, black, white, polka-dotted, Buddhist, atheist, devout Catholic, want to take a child into their home and love it, nurture it, and raise it up in the atmosphere of "family," that person(s) should be allowed to do so.

Notice the gratuitous use of the word "love." Not controlling, not cutting that child off from the world, teaching them X and Y people are evil or bad or wrong... My grandma (mother to 15) said you can't go wrong with kids if you just simply love them. I believe that in my bones.

As voting day draws closer here in Texas, more information is coming to light about these fundamentalists and the bills being written. And there are several Gay & Lesbian groups aligning themselves with the polygs, simply because they need to not be excluded from having marital rights, and I understand the panic. BUT. Please. Those of you on my flist that are homosexual: do not align yourself with child abusers. I personally have helped take young girls out that have been raped repeatedly by their fathers, their uncles, random "leaders" in the church because God told them to "raise up a righteous generation."

Don't group yourself with people who actually ARE deviants. Being homosexual is just a part of who you are biologically. You love someone, you want to have a life with that person, and they happen to be of the same sex. Polygamy is about patriarchal control. About using (literally) the fear of God to make a woman submit to a life where she has no choice. NO CHOICE! And is forced to become a servant of the man's other wives. They live a life where independant thought will get you removed from all family, never to be seen again, or to be killed. I am not exaggerating.

I'm shaking with the thought of the lovely people I know (who happen to be homosexual) being lumped in with these abusers and murders who claim God wants them to act this way. How can we separate these two things? Is there any hope? I believe one day that being a homosexual will not bar you from rights afforded to everyone else. But to me, aligning yourself with these wackadoos underscores what the right-wing fearmongers try and teach: homosexuals are deviants. We can't let that happen.

How can we help the Gay Rights movement and not include these child-abusers (and groups like NAMBLA, another child-abuse sanctioning group)? Any and all suggestions are welcome. But bear this in mind: my great-grandfather was a polygamist. Please, PLEASE do not try and tell me what polygamy is (unless you have managed to keep it secret that you are from a polyg background, then by all means: talk away).

If you want an indepth look, pick up In My Father's House about the Allred family, written by one of my friend's sister (both of whom escaped, and both have a price on their head for leaving the "faith.") And of course, an interesting book (albeit it mind boggling for those not aware of how the LDS church works - LOTS of info in this one) is Under The Banner of Heaven which discusses the violence inherent in the church and its off-shoot, i.e. the Fundamentalist polygamists. Think Elizabeth Smart. "God" told David and Wanda (who was commanded to obey her husband) to make Elizabeth his wife. Did you know he tried to kidnap her cousin, too?

Your thoughts, your ideas: go just below here. I welcome all in the spirit of pulling the thorn out.

[ETA]: JUST hung up the phone from someone in Records at the church office in SLC. Wanting to confirm my membership. Had my maiden name. Laughed (gently) and asked if they could update their records to show I was an apostate. She got quiet and asked me to think about it. How friggin' creepy is that? The call, not the nice elderly woman wanting to make sure I was counted among God's flock.


( 70 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 6th, 2005 08:35 am (UTC)
Having gotten sideswiped, early in life, by second generation descendants of people who'd left Amana when the "amatory" parts of that community were outlawed, I have much to think and little to say about the horrors of pious child abuse.

But: ten to one the way they afforded the land for the ranch was because the sellers retained mineral rights.

Which is to say, since we hold a peppercorn interest in the rights to Anadarko Deep Basin Petroleum Rights: the bad guys take advntage of whatever laws they can bend. Like the good polygamous conservatives in (draw a 500 mile circle centered on Hilldale, UT) who support most of their "wives" and their children on AFDC and food stamps. Like a polygamist in my own state who took advantage of no-fault divorce, and went out-of-state to get around laws here which limit age and consanguity for marriage. Something about those who belong to the darkness being more wise in their generation than the children of the light?

In the long run, those who shelter and educate the victims of the system, and those who enforce the existing laws to their fullest extent, are going to do more good than trying to custom-tailor marriage law to prevent situations that are already illegal.

Julia, thinking on the ways in which people use religion as an excuse to do evil
Apr. 6th, 2005 08:51 am (UTC)
"Pious child abuse." That made me sit back.
Exactly. I could go on about this for hours, but if you asked a Utahn what (exactly) about polygamy pisses them off, it's the abuse of the welfare system. You'll drive into the plyg communities and see 16,000 sq. foot homes, but will leave the tar paper up on one side, thus skirting paying property taxes (because the house isn't finished) and then every wife but the first (wince it isn't legal, they are unmarried mothers) gets huge welfare checks, food stamps, free medical care, but the fathers, women and children all work. But they work for cash, so no income on the record.

And they all thumb their noses at gov't, so they pay no taxes, don't get drivers licenses, SSNs, and on and on. But they have no problem taking that same Wicked Government's money. It's a principle called "bleeding the beast."

And all of this (including my post and your comment) is protected because God told them it was okay.

And you are probably right on the mineral rights... Although THAT is coming into question as well.
Apr. 6th, 2005 08:37 am (UTC)
It seems to me that the big difference between acceptable marriage (gay or straight) and the type of polygamy you describe is consent. Is it an oversimplification to say that marriage should be nothing more and nothing less than a contract between consenting adults? It seems that that is the banner the gay rights folks should be flying.

Just another example of how fundamentalist religion of any kind fucks everything up. Cause when it comes down to it, if three (or more) otherwise regular grown-ups decided they needed to all be married to each other, I would scratch my head, but ultimately I guess I wouldn't have a problem with it. It's when religious wackos want to subjugate others, especially minors, that we have a problem. In other words, it sounds like the problem is not the polygamy per se, it's that the polygamy is being used as a method of keeping all the women in the community under the heal of the men.

Apr. 6th, 2005 08:56 am (UTC)
You've hit it for me: CONSENTING ADULTS.

Obviously, a man in his 60s, who holds ownership of the land a family is on, telling the father that he will be "cast out, and all his property (which includes his family in their definition) shall be taken from him" should be not give his pre-pubescent daughter to so and so in marriage is not even in the same COUNTRY as consenting.

And these girls are taught from the beginning of their life that they exist for the pleasure of men and to bring babies into the world. Woe unto those that are barren.

But polygamy IS a problem, in and of itself. I just hate that it gets lumped in with other's legitimate beefs. Or the ACLU comes in (albeit well meaning) and says they have the right to live their lives the way their religion dictates. So, blood atonement and slavery are okay because their god says so? *shakes head*

I'm so glad you commented. Consenting Adults should be the contract language. Yes.
Apr. 6th, 2005 09:11 am (UTC)
I have nothing useful to add, I just wanted to say that I've never really realized what the Mormon practice of polygamy entailed and it's shocking and I'm glad you posted about it.
Apr. 6th, 2005 09:22 am (UTC)
It IS shocking. Here I was, a good little Mormon girl from Texas, off to school in Utah and (knew a bit of the past, as told to me from my family members with their perma-rose colored glasses) meet these poor women who had to change their name, lose their children (they were 20 and had five kids already) and never speak to their family again because they left "the faith."

If you have any desire to read the books I mentioned, they are amazing in their detail and in the fact that this is currently happening. WOW.
Apr. 6th, 2005 09:14 am (UTC)
i agree with unfolded that the issue is consenting adults.

i know people in poly-relationships that would probably love to get them state recognized (or at least more socially accepted), but they are worlds away from polygamy as it is most frequently practiced.

i have to wonder if the gay rights groups fully know what they are aligning themselves with. i think there is a definite perception that polygamy is a thing of the past. i grew up in MA and all the mormons i knew were horrified by the notion of polygamy and fully in denial that it ever happened anymore as part of mormonism.

i believed them.

i was unaware that it was still a wide-spread problem until reading this post. thanks for posting this it's really interesting and eye-opening.
Apr. 6th, 2005 09:28 am (UTC)
Let me re-iterate: modern devout Mormons do NOT practice polygamy. They loathe it. Mainly because of it's stain on the church, and also for the drain on the welfare system. But I get angry they they don't do more to root it out. It's the ugly red-stepchild of the church that they just don't talk about, and therein lies a big part of the problem.

I wonder if they know what they are getting into, as well. I would think they can't, or (sadly) that they are so desperate that anything that can keep their heads above water will be clung to.

Which is why I want to know what I can do to help further the cause of Gay Rights, but not have groups like plygs hang on to them like barnacles.

Another good book to read is "No Man Knows My History" by Fawn Brodie about Joseph Smith. It's considered the best biography of the man by (almost)all accounts. (re: Mormons who think Joseph Smith was divine and without blame do not like hearing of his real life. They want the glorified version of their Saint. And I should know, I was one of those types back in the day.)
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Apr. 6th, 2005 09:29 am (UTC)
Ok, before this, polygamy just squicked me, I knew the fundamentals (inbreeding and betrothed lil halfsistercousins) but I had never really thought about it. Mostly because, being Catholic, I've had my own child abusers to damn to hell. I just can't believe that people (read: women), no matter how they were raised, can allow their children to go through the horrors that they themselves have endured. Boggles my brain. Hurts my heart.

Now, see, I personally don't give a rat's ass about marriage. I've never seen myself as someone who would get married. It just ain't me. Of course, as a Texan I realize that if I live with someone for, what is it? 2 yrs? 3 yrs? you're already considered married by common law...however, I feel people, no matter their sexual orientation, should have the right to decide whether they are the marrying type, rather than have that decision foisted upon them by a frigging law or loophole.

Apr. 6th, 2005 11:01 am (UTC)
Man, you are close to one of those "re-education camps" south of Juarez, too. Bet there are a bunch of plygs in El Paso for the Big Shopping Day. Look for ladies with jeans under their calico dresses and hair in a braid down their backs.

The LeBaron Clan (the most violent of the off-shoots - the majority of that family is behind bars for ritual killings) is close to Juarez. That friend I mentioned that ran off and her sister wrote a book? They were LeBarons. Dude, Angelus would be freaked out by that guy.
Apr. 6th, 2005 09:31 am (UTC)
Terminology. It gets us in so much trouble.

To be perfectly technical: polygamy = the practice or custom of having more than one wife/husband at the same time. (Polyandry, by the way, would be the practice or custom of having more than one husband at the same time. Woot.) To be perfectly technical: deviant = diverging from normal standards, especially in social or sexual behaviour. (Which would include, given the oft-quoted 10% of the population number, any kind of sexuality that isn't het monogamy.)

Now. That being said.

Consenting Adults should be our credo, the child-molesting bastards who hurt these kids should be drug out into the street and SHOT, and you have sound and cogent arguments that should be heard by everybody. I am in your camp, and think you are smart. :)
Apr. 6th, 2005 11:10 am (UTC)
It's interesting to note that when Joesph Smith revealed the commandment from god about polygamy, his wife Emma said God told HER that she could have more husbands. So God (how convenient) commanded Emma to cleave to one man, and leave his prophet alone. Because they had a new maid and she was purdy. D&C 132: 54, of their own scripture.

To be clear: I do not think of homosexuality (bi, etc.) to be deviant. Consenting adults is the key to this conversation. But I do have tremendous hatred for the men who perpetrate this continuing lifestyle. Fuck. Can you even begin to imagine being forced into marriage of some old, wrinkly wife-beater? And if you got upset about your lot, he took a tire iron to you?

Can you tell this is a sore spot? Solly.
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Apr. 6th, 2005 09:33 am (UTC)
I hang my head again to be from Texas. Texas has already passed laws a couple of years ago to make it extremely difficult to impossible for non-traditional families to adopt or even foster children. Fortuately the Leg only meets every two years.

Oh my. Exactly where in West Texas is this conclave? I'm originally from West Texas (Lubbock) but when you say West Texas you're talking from El Paso to Abilene in most people's minds. You can drive for two days and still be in Texas.

I would love for you to send me a list (when you have time) of all these wonderful books about Mormonism and the LDS. I'm very fascinated.

I love Zane Grey and Orson Scott Card and then I start thinking ick thoughts. :shudder:

There's a man outside of Houston who has two or three wives, at least. They write about him in the paper on occasion Johnny Law has never gone after him. He's over there in Washington County with all the pretty rose bushes.

When you think about the state of the world, it's still so disgusting to be a woman anywhere, isn't it? And nearly impossible to be G/L/B/TR.

Personally, I don't think a law that favors the rights of polygamists will pass in Texas, unless it was shown to harm the rights of teh Evol Gay/Lesbian/Bi/TR deviants. :Please note the sarcasm: If the Leg and the Gawd Fearin' Folk find out *the deviants and the polygamists* have banned together, I think it will sink them.

More likely to take hold here are Klansmen and Militiamen. Oh wait. They've already taken hold.

David Koresh had him a set up in Wacko very similar to his, and he was raping, marrying, and enslaving children right and left, and when the government tried to rescue them, we got Oklahoma City, remember?

Was Wacko before or after Ruby Ridge?
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Apr. 6th, 2005 09:45 am (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes.

::hugs you hard::

Every docco, article and news report I've seen on Mormon polygamy reveals a deeply abusive social structure which traumatises women and girls. Associating with them is akin to anti-pornography feminists allying with right-wing censorship fundies. You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
Apr. 6th, 2005 11:15 am (UTC)
So, so abusive. When I was in college, we'd try to sneak into their little commune and approach the girls and offer help. Some of the local men-folk found out about us, and would escort us from town. Police escort.

They have their own hospital that is highly specialized: births and plastic surgery. Most children there now are born with extra toes and fingers, so heavy is the inbreeding.

"You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."

Amen, sister.
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Apr. 6th, 2005 11:32 am (UTC)
Heinlein-esque polygamy? Is there a book of his I haven't read? Well, the answer is yes, but more specifically, did he advocate polyandry? interesting. I know he was all about freedom of thought, lack of gov't, religion, etc., and supported the volunteer mentality to life, but I didn't know about the sexual freedom stuff.


The Texas ammendment is on the surface about CLOSING loopholes, but underneath are two opposing bits: marriage= man+woman from the religious right, and this brave State Rep who is trying to put words like: you can't marry your step-daughter, or a child who was your mother's sister by another marriage and is now your step-aunt and only 13.

I read that about Kansas. Sad to say I wasn't suprised. They are still fighting having evolution taught in school. *facepalms*
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Apr. 6th, 2005 11:40 am (UTC)
Oh, Mari, it's just horrible. And they have it indoctrinated that it is their lot in life. Living in America in this day and age and forced into (what is basically) slavery.

So, so sad.
Apr. 6th, 2005 11:28 am (UTC)
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Apr. 6th, 2005 11:36 am (UTC)
BWAH!!! Of course, I've read some Potter-fics where Beatrix LaStrange and others are forced to live in a commune of Death Eaters...

They are oppressing me! Did you see that? So some watery bint throws a sword at you... Wait. Got off track.

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Apr. 6th, 2005 11:30 am (UTC)
Booyah, Miss Stoney.

And EEEEK! with teh special hospital!

PS: Just read something about the prevalence of sexual abuse in the Amish. Quaint. Fundamentalism oppresses.
And makes baby Jesus cry.
Apr. 6th, 2005 11:39 am (UTC)
Man, I still think there are folks out there not commenting because I'm not being fair to the ploygamists, or NAMBLA. Sorry! Assholes who break the law don't need me to be fair.

I saw a special on MSNBC about the sexual abuse in the Amish communities. And I believe it. You cut yourself off from the world, you limit yourself to your community and what you can learn/experience/know... shit is going to happen. Bah.

Special hospital!! Because of the extra toes!! I am not making this up! My (unrequited love) friend Sean volunteered at that hospital for a year. Yikes.
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Apr. 6th, 2005 12:58 pm (UTC)
Why on earth would any gay rights organization ally themselves with these types of groups? Do they understand what they're doing to themselves in the state of Texas?

I've read about some of those stories about Mormonism and polygamy in the newspapers. Your first hand account makes it all that more vivid. And the authorities still haven't stopped it. I just don't get some people sometimes. They're all for rights and don't want to see child abuse, but when it comes time to do something about it, nothing is done. And then for all those families to abuse the system and draw welfare.

I keep telling my hubby that living in California sometimes is advantageous. Gays have more rights here than almost anywhere in the U.S., you can get an abortion without someone tossing your name out to the public (I will never live in Kansas), and you can't smoke anywhere anymore. My sister-in-law should be able to get married if she wants to her partner. Just not fair. She had to adopt their two kids in California because in Nevada she couldn't.

You just wish that all people could live in peace and harmony, but it ain't happening any time soon.
Apr. 6th, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC)
The current way to "stop" polygamy is to arrest the fathers and throw them in jail. Now you have a group of women and tens of children per family without a breadwinner. Last time they did a big round up (in the 50s), the newspapers sold lots of copies with pictures of crying children and women reaching for their husbands as the Feds carted them off. So there was sympathy generated for these folks based on images and no one looked deeper into what was going on.

Which is what (I think) is happening now with some of the Gay Rights groups aligning themselves with the plygs. "Marriage is people loving each other" and they go no further.

I will never live in Kansas, but that has a lot to do with me being a scientist and not understanding how anyone can poh-pooh biology and evolution. Not to say all Kansans feel that way. Crap.

Well, shit. I have people scratching their heads at me for living in Texas, but then, they don't live here, so I should shut my mouth with the generalizations of folks from states I haven't lived in, huh? :-)
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Apr. 6th, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC)
Where's the part where you piss people off? I think I missed that part. Good heads up to people who are aligning themselves with child molesters. You're right. What's next NAMBLA? It's ridiculous. Also, this part...I personally have helped take young girls out that have been raped repeatedly by their fathers, their uncles, random "leaders" in the church because God told them to "raise up a righteous generation." makes me love and respect even more than I already do.
Apr. 6th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
Well, a while back I posted about the pedophile dentist in Dallas who we had visited, but dropped us as patients because I insisted on being in the room with my son. And how that pedophile dentist was a member of NAMBLA and was busted while on a "sex trip" to Mexico to "get with" a boy under the age of 12.

And a heated discussion broke out about age of consent, and some kids know they are gay at 11, yadda yadda, and how NAMBLA isn't really a bad group, they are misunderstood, and ... O_O Dude. I don't care what orientation an 11 year old is. They shouldn't be fucking.

So I braced myself for people defending the plygs (ACLU comes to their defense every time, which makes me skeptical of their judgement. Freedom of religion is one thing, but what if my religion demands that I shoot old people to make way for the coming of a Righteous Generation? Gimmie a friggin' break.) but the imagined onslaught never came.

Whew. Dude. you should pick up some of those books I listed. Amazing. Here! America!! Happening now!! Crazy.

And the Franklin icon is BEEYOUTEEFUL. Ha ha ha!
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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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