Will Polygamy follow Same Sex Marriage?

by: Guest

July 3, 2013

brownsThis is the second guest post from Justin.  He also blogs at LDS Anarchy.

I have always known that polygamy would naturally follow on the heels of legalized same-gender marriage, and I’ve predicted in the past [though not as a prophecy] that, when both are legalized by the government, the LDS church would begin sanctioning same-gender marriages in LDS meetinghouses and temples before they would ever reinstitute/allow polygamous marriages.

I think they shut the door so hard on polygamy that if a change is made to begin solemnizing these other forms of marriage once they’re legalized — then they’d go with same-gender marriages but continue to cite Official Declaration 1 as reason against polygamous ones.

What's your opinion on the relationship between legalized same-gender marriage and legalized polygamy -- especially as it relates to what you think the LDS church is going to do and/or what it should

  • I'm against both legalized same-gender marriage and polygamy; and am against church acceptance of both (27%, 21 Votes)
  • I am for legalized same-gender marriage and its acceptance in the church; but am against legalized polygamy and its church acceptance (26%, 20 Votes)
  • I am for both legalized same-gender marriage and polygamy; and for church acceptance of both (17%, 13 Votes)
  • I am for legalized same-gender marriage and polygamy; but am against church acceptance of both (16%, 12 Votes)
  • I am for legalized polygamy and its acceptance in the church; but am against legalized same-gender marriage and its church acceptance (14%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 77

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33 Responses to Will Polygamy follow Same Sex Marriage?

  1. Lorian on July 3, 2013 at 3:24 AM

    I support equal marriage for same-sex couples (I doubt that’s a surprise). I also, academically anyway, support legal civil marriage for polygamous families, as long as all parties are of age and fully consenting, but I recognize that polygamous marriage presents far more potential legal and social issues than does same-sex marriage (major overhaul of family law pertaining to inheritance, custody, taxes, social security, etc., along with solving issues relating to unmarried young men unable to find spouses and cast out of communities – “lost boys”). I don’t particularly care whether the church acknowledges or seals such marriages or not, but I sincerely doubt they will have anything to do with same-sex *or* polygamous marriages any time soon, if ever.

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  2. pdoe on July 3, 2013 at 6:23 AM

    What about:
    Support legalizing polygamy if gay marriage is legalized but against church acceptance of either. (This being different than being for legalization of both. It’s the difference between wanting to have both (the option in the OP) and not thinking that opponents of polygamy have a leg to stand on if they support same-sex marriage.)

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  3. Justin on July 3, 2013 at 7:42 AM

    pdoe [#2]:

    What about:
    Support legalizing polygamy if gay marriage is legalized but against church acceptance of either. (This being different than being for legalization of both.)

    I tried to think up all the possible belief combinations — without it being overwhelming by having too many choices that were hard to keep clear. Sorry if I missed one.

    But it sounds as though you’re saying that your stance is that you’re against both the legalization and the church acceptance of both kinds of non-hetero, non-monogamous marriages [which is a choice in the poll] — but it’s just that you’re a realist when it comes to the legal implications of accepting one form [over the other].

    You said that:

    opponents of polygamy [don't] have a leg to stand on if they support same-sex marriage.

    but would you say the reverse is true — i.e., that opponents of same-gender marriage also don’t have a leg to stand on if they support multiple-husband or multiple-wife marriages?

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  4. Last Lemming on July 3, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    You need some more nuance here. Does “legalizing” polygamy mean you don’t throw polygamists in jail or that you issue them as many marriage licenses as they want and extend spousal Social Security benefits to all the spouses who don’t work? I’m for not throwing them in jail, but at the same time am opposed to conferring government benefits on them, Likewise with same-sex relationships. And the church should accept neither.

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  5. Justin on July 3, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    Last Lemming [#4]:

    You need some more nuance here. Does “legalizing” polygamy mean you don’t throw polygamists in jail or that you issue them as many marriage licenses as they want and extend spousal Social Security benefits to all the spouses who don’t work?

    By “legalize” — I meant the ability to obtain a state-issued marriage license for that kind of marriage [just like heterosexual couples can do right now]. It’s not presently illegal for adults to cohabitate and be sexually-active with other adults in polygamous or same-gender relationships. So I didn’t consider putting a nuanced choice for whether people are in favor of throwing them in jail or not in the poll.

    So you sound like you’re with the “against both” choice — in that you don’t want either form of non-hetero, non-monogamous to be legalized [in the same way heterosexual marriages are legalized today], and you don’t want the church to recognize/accept either of them even if they were to be legalized.

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  6. Nick Literski on July 3, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    I’m always amused by those who attempt to use legalized polygamy as an argument against civil marriage equality. As an openly gay man in a long-term, committed polyandrous relationship, I believe that consenting adults ought to be able to form the family relationships of their choosing. I also believe that legal sanction is the best way for society to avoid abuses in family relationships. Legalized plural marriage simply would never have spawned a Warren Jeffs or an Ervil LeBaron. Granted, legalization of polygamy will require some creative legislative solutions in a system entirely based on monogamy. I expect that an LLC-like arrangement may prove necessary for plural relationships, should they receive legal recognition.

    As for the LDS church, I’m cautious about predicting their eventual response to marriage equality. Perhaps with the passing of enough octogenarians, a new generation of leaders may seek the necessary inspiration to recognize same-sex unions. It’s easy for me to say they’ve painted themselves too far into a corner with their anti-marriage-equality and anti-gay activism, but cringe-inducing official statements didn’t stop them from making a change in priesthood ordination. All it takes is a McConkie-esque “We now speak with greater light and knowledge.”

    When it comes to plural marriage, however, I don’t see the LDS church ever returning to endorsement. Modern LDS self-identity hinges upon the repeated refrain of “SERIOUSLY–We’re not polygamists anymore!” What was once the focal point defining Mormonism for the public, has now become the “unclean thing,” with which modern LDS leaders shun association at all costs. The modern LDS ideal is a stable of dressage horses, not a stable of wives. The only way I see the LDS church sanctioning polygamy again, would be under a genuinely apocalyptic world disaster, wherein the male LDS population was decimated. Even then, however, I suspect the response would be “home teaching nightmare,” rather than taking on additional wives.

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  7. Howard on July 3, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    I don’t think the church sees same sex marriage and plural marriage as being related. If they were both legal tomorrow I think the precedent of polygamous revelation and history would make that easier for the church to accept than the sin they claim same sex affection to be.

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  8. Howard on July 3, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    …they’d go with same-gender marriages but continue to cite Official Declaration 2 as reason against polygamous ones. Do you mean OD1? OD2 ended the ban on blacks. OD1 stopped plural marriage precisely because it was illegal. Should it become legal I don’t see how OD1 could reasonably be used as reason against plural marriage.

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  9. Last Lemming on July 3, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    It’s not presently illegal for adults to cohabitate and be sexually-active with other adults in polygamous…relationships.

    Yes it is. It’s just that the Utah attorney general does not find it politically expedient to enforce the law. (I deleted the reference to same-sex relationships because you are correct on that one, thanks to the Lawrence decision.)

    http://fox13now.com/2012/05/31/utah-seeks-dismissal-of-sister-wives-lawsuit-citing-polygamy-policy/

    And I did vote for the “neither” option.

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  10. Frank Pellett on July 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    It’s certainly possible to be for polygamy (of both stripes) and against same-sex marriage. Polygamous contracts are between two people, even if one of those people is also in a contract with another. It does not mean that it’s a sexual free-for-all.

    Considering the Church does not allow polygamous marriage even in places where it is legal, it’s highly doubtful they’d allow it if it became legal in just the US. I expect it will become legal soon, however, fitting with the apocolyptic scripture “7 women will take hold of 1 man . . .”

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  11. Hue Man on July 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    It’s not illegal for consenting adults to cohabitate and be sexually active in any way, shape or form in my state. (Maybe incest is illegal). Agree with Howard 7. Would be curious to know whether church would condone polyandry and polygny.

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  12. Justin on July 3, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Howard [#8]:

    Thanks for catching that mistake. I meant to write OD#1. If someone from W&T could edit that for me — I’d be much obliged. Also, you said:

    Should it become legal I don’t see how OD1 could reasonably be used as reason against plural marriage.

    The church presently refuses to acknowledge/solemnize polygamous marriages in countries where they are legal according to the laws of that country. And, though someone like you or I may not be able to “see how OD1 could reasonably be used as reason against plural marriage” — someone like President Gordon Hinckley does see how it can:

    Question 4: What is the Church’s position on polygamy?
    [...]
    If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (A of F 1:12). One cannot obey the law and disobey the law at the same time.
    [...]
    More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that it is now against the law of God. Even in countries where civil or religious law allows polygamy, the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage.

    (What are People Asking About us?)

    His point is very telling because he first frames his answer in terms of the civil illegality of people obtaining more than one state-issued marriage license.

    The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter,

    he says — as if to wipe his hands of the matter.

    Yet — as if realizing the loophole he just opened up for members who live in nations that do not outlaw plural marriages, as well as any who might try to skip state-authorization for a plural union [thus rendering their additional spouse fully legal] — he makes sure to add:

    Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church.

    And on what basis would that be?

    More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that it is now against the law of God.

    Oh, the “revelation” which it states:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

    What circular reasoning we have here. Wilford says that since its against the laws of the state, then it would be best if the saints stop doing it. Then Gordon says that since Wilford said we shouldn’t, then it doesn’t matter if it’s against the laws of the state or not.

    It’s that kind of mind-set [that shown by Pres. Hinckley] that made me predict a few years back that when both are legalized by the government, the LDS church would begin sanctioning same-gender marriages before they would ever reinstitute/allow polygamous marriages.

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  13. Justin on July 3, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Last Lemming [#9]:

    I don’t care so much about the Utah DA’s office. I can have another woman living in my house and be sexually-active with her — likewise my wife with another man living in our house. The police will not come and arrest any of us for that. I personally know of three families who do this.

    Does the DA prosecute married people when one of them gets pregnant [or gets someone else pregnant] in an extra-marital affair? No. And why? Because it’s not illegal. What’s illegal is to attempt to fraudulently obtain a marriage license if you already have one.

    But marriage without a marriage license is a different story.

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  14. Casey on July 3, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    I’m for legalized gay marriage and polygamy (although I don’t really like it and think it should be given close scrutiny to guard against abuse), but while I’m against the church supporting polygamy again I’m fairly indifferent to whether it condones gay marriage, so I just said against church acceptance of both since I don’t see the church accepting gay marriage soon anyway :)

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  15. Howard on July 3, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Circular reasoning indeed Justin! What do we make of “prophets” who play these childish word games?

    Well if they take that tact it will tend to condemn the past practice rather than support Joseph, Brigham and beyond by laying blame on the law which seems to be historically correct.

    This is what God wants?

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  16. Howard on July 3, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Humm, given the anti-plural marriage rhetoric Justin quotes I wonder if the brethren have considered the impact of plural marriage on the building construction fund? One man’s income spread across the equivalent of several families would have the effect of lowering tithing receipts quite a bit, wouldn’t it? Not to mention the start up chaos they would need to manage to re-institute it.

    Well I guess it was just a passing fancy when God revealed it and finally sent an angel with a drawn sword to motivate Joseph to live it. Or perhaps it’s just a failed experiment and God was wrong. Or perhaps Joseph was just a lecher as so many otherwise faithful choose to believe and Brigham being a man after all also liked the idea! Or who knows, perhaps the church is adrift in apostasy.

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  17. Justin on July 3, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Howard [#16]:

    given the anti-plural marriage rhetoric Justin quotes I wonder if the brethren have considered the impact of plural marriage on the building construction fund? One man’s income spread across the equivalent of several families would have the effect of lowering tithing receipts quite a bit, wouldn’t it? Not to mention the start up chaos they would need to manage to re-institute it.

    Polyandry certainly “fixes” the “One man’s income spread across several families” that you get with polygyny-only — does it not? That would certainly set-up joint-stewardships [or "united orders"] within a single family [meaning where more than one income is devoted to the maintenance of a single family-unit], would it not?

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  18. Howard on July 3, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Yes as least in theory, but probably not in practice given the natural tendencies and desires of men vs women if both were allowed, and of course that isn’t the traditional form of Mormon polygamy so I don’t think that position carries a lot of merit.

    I’ve suggested that Joseph would have added polyandry to plural marriage based on; 1) my belief that network marriage challenges both genders to transcend their jealousy, possessiveness and selfishness to become more Christlike (which after living a polyamorous lifestyle I believe is one of the main reasons God commanded plural marriage) 2) because Joseph was sealed to married women with living husbands and 3) Joseph practiced polygyny before giving it to the saints to live and he may well have been practicing polyandry before he died.

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  19. Justin on July 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    of course that isn’t the traditional form of Mormon polygamy

    Well I suppose that’s if you’re looking at Brigham, et al. — but since the first plural marriage performed by Joseph Smith was himself to another married woman — meaning Mormon polygamy began with a man having two wives [polygyny] and a woman having two husbands [polyandry] — and then that 11 of Joseph Smith’s marriages, in total, were to women who were already married [so he was the polyandrous husband] (infographic) — and then, of course, D&C 132:41 mentioning a “holy anointing” by which a woman may “be with” another man without committing adultery — I guess it all depends on what you mean by “traditional form”.

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  20. Howard on July 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Oh interesting Justin, I wasn’t aware the first plural marriage performed by Joseph Smith was himself to another married woman! But I meant how it was typically practiced, I doubt many LDS chapel Mormons are aware of the information you cite.

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  21. mh on July 3, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Justin, Fanny Alger is almost universally recognized as Josephs first wife. At 15, she was not married, so I don’t understand your Polyandrous claim.

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  22. Justin on July 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    mh [#21]:

    I was thinking of Lucinda Harris when I wrote that. Was he sealed to Fanny Alger — or were there just circulated claims that they were married? Don’t his plural wives show up on FamilySearch-dot-org?

    Either way — with 11 polyandrous unions, I think my “Polyandrous claim” is still fair, except I may have been wrong about the 1st part [the polyandrous union may have been the 2nd one then].

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  23. Mormon Heretic on July 3, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    I’m pretty sure the old family search listed Fanny on the first page, but the new one gives tons of info and wasn’t easily found. Brian Hales has a website wivesofjosephsmith.org and posted this at the link: http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/02-FannyAlger.htm

    It has always been my understanding that Fanny was the first sealed and married to Joseph Smith–Hales dates it to 1833 in Kirtland, Ohio. But Hales does list Lucinda Harris as wife #3 (if we count Emma as #1.) That sealing occurred in 1838. The funny thing is that Emma wasn’t sealed until approx 1841.

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  24. Brian on July 3, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    The bad angel on my shoulder is hoping that polygamy follows in the footsteps of gay marriage. I say this only because there is no way the church will go back to it and yet the adoring public would resurrect all of the old polygamy quotes. A Mormon moment for sure.

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  25. Nick Literski on July 3, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    At least Hales has the decency to say the “marriage” to Alger is “undocumented.” After all, calling the “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” a “marriage” was a later development by Mopologists. Oliver Cowdery certainly didn’t buy the claim that it was anything other than adultery.

    Modern LDS:

    (1) Joseph bangs a nubile young maid in the barn = “That’s MARRIAGE!”

    (2) A same-sex couple who’ve been together for 20+ years finally gets their relationship recognized by civil authorities, with the same rights and responsibilities as a heterosexual couple = “OMG, DON’T YOU DARE CALL THAT A MARRIAGE!!”

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  26. Douglas on July 3, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    #25 – Yes, and at least whatever the legality of option (1) in the eyes of the Lord (I’m assuming that Joseph Smith was authorized by HF to take this fair maiden as a plural wife and therefore could legitimately “bang” her in the barn or wherever they chose to get convival) that option (2) will NEVER be legitimate in the eyes of the Lord. All the self-soothsaying and praise in the eyes of men (and women) won’t make it so. If HF does, in fact, change His views on gay marriage, then He can and will make it known, but I can bet the farm with confidence that memo ain’t coming down.
    Methinks that any serious attempt, now that for all practical purposes the “gay cat” is out of the bag (or closet), on the part of some fringe group advocating polygamy to legalize it will cause Elder Dallin Oaks et al. to freak. Sure, we can say with confidence that by revelation the plural marriage spigot was shut off in the US in 1890 (worldwide in 1904), and it would take another revelation to crack that spigot open again…BUT…it’ll be a PR disaster even if the main LDS Church retains the status quo.
    Me, I’m content to practice serial monogamy, it costs me plenty in support payments and legal fees as it is; why double-down on the deal? As the late Vince Lombardi advised his ever-wayward running back, Paul Hornung (who constantly missed bed check in camp and had ever-increasing fines levied against his pay)..”Hornung, if you can find a woman in this county (some isolated rural spot in the Wisconsin North Woods), call me, and we’ll both go!”

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  27. LDS Anarchist on July 3, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    These are all the possible viewpoints to take on this issue:

    Legal: Poly +, SSM +; Church: Poly +, SSM +
    Legal: Poly -, SSM +; Church: Poly +, SSM +
    Legal: Poly +, SSM -; Church: Poly +, SSM +
    Legal: Poly +, SSM +; Church: Poly -, SSM +
    Legal: Poly +, SSM +; Church: Poly +, SSM –
    Legal: Poly -, SSM -; Church: Poly +, SSM +
    Legal: Poly -, SSM +; Church: Poly -, SSM +
    Legal: Poly -, SSM +; Church: Poly +, SSM –
    Legal: Poly -, SSM -; Church: Poly -, SSM +
    Legal: Poly -, SSM -; Church: Poly +, SSM –
    Legal: Poly -, SSM +; Church: Poly -, SSM –
    Legal: Poly +, SSM -; Church: Poly -, SSM +
    Legal: Poly +, SSM -; Church: Poly +, SSM –
    Legal: Poly +, SSM -; Church: Poly -, SSM –
    Legal: Poly -, SSM -; Church: Poly -, SSM –

    If the state must be in marriage, then my view is the following:

    Legal: Mono +, Poly +, SSM -; Church: Mono +, Poly +, SSM –

    But as an anarchist, my actual view is:

    Legal: Mono -, Poly -, SSM -; Church: Mono +, Poly +, SSM -

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  28. Left Field on July 3, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    At least on occasional Tuesdays, I’m in favor of “marriage equality” across the board. That is, you can legally marry the consenting adult of your choice. Period. Regardless of sex, marital status, or degree of consanguinity.

    As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, and is fully aware of the circumstances, you ought to be able to enter a legal relationship without government interference. That people find it “icky” ought not be a reason to disallow legal marriage. It’s not marriage equality if I say that people can marry the consenting adult of their choice only if I approve of their relationship. That sounds exactly like the marriage inequality that people find problematic.

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  29. Nick Literski on July 3, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    #26:
    (I’m assuming that Joseph Smith was authorized by HF to take this fair maiden as a plural wife and therefore could legitimately “bang” her in the barn or wherever they chose to get convival)

    That’s quite an assumption. I’m not sure Emma agreed, when she saw them through a knothole in the wall of said barn. So much for that “eternal” Law of Sarah, eh?

    Methinks that any serious attempt, now that for all practical purposes the “gay cat” is out of the bag (or closet), on the part of some fringe group advocating polygamy to legalize it will cause Elder Dallin Oaks et al. to freak.

    Which is curious, given that Mr. Oaks has been rampaging across the country for the past 3 years or so, giving speeches on the importance of “religious liberty” as the preeminent and absolute first priority of any Constitutional rights. Pity he can’t extend the same liberty to those whose faith differs from his own. Bigger pity that he’s such a whore to Mr. Monson, that he has to give speech after speech, completely ignoring his own extensive legal knowledge and experience—-effectively “lying for the Lord” by making a legal argument he knows is complete bullshit.

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  30. LDS Anarchist on July 5, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Summary of results (for a sample size of 61), courtesy of Justin’s calculations:

    Church acceptance of polygamy [69% for -- 31% against]
    Church acceptance of same-gender marriage [44% for -- 56% against]

    Legalized same-gender marriage [61% for -- 39% against]
    Legalized polygamy [48% for -- 53% against]

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  31. Lorian on July 5, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Works for me.

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  32. Justin on July 6, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    I just noticed I’d labeled “church acceptance of polygamy” backwards [I'd put the "against"s as being "for", and vice versa] — so now that there’s 69 votes — the results now stand:

    Legalized same-gender marriage [59% for -- 41% against]
    Legalized polygamy [46% for -- 54% against]

    Church acceptance of same-gender marriage [44% for -- 57% against]
    Church acceptance of polygamy [30% for -- 70% against]

    So the single most popular position is being against the church reinstating polygamy, come hell or high-water [which is about what I expect, and supports the prediction I've made] — and a majority were against the state even legalizing women and men having plural spouses, whereas the majority were for the state legalizing same-gender unions [which is about what I expected too].

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  33. LDS Anarchist on July 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Double-checking your numbers ;) , here is what I came up with based on (now) 71 votes:

    Legalized same-gender marriage [57% for -- 43% against]
    Legalized polygamy [55% against -- 45% for]

    Church acceptance of polygamy [70% against -- 30% for]
    Church acceptance of same-gender marriage [58% against -- 42% for]

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