Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Polygamists claim it's all about love
It was one of the harder interviews for us to arrange. Polygamists don't like to talk on camera. It is against the law in every state to have a plural marriage, and people involved in this lifestyle are constantly looking over their shoulders wondering if they might be arrested. Many of them have parents and grandparents who have spent years in jail.

But after weeks of negotiations, a group of polygamists who live near Colorado City, Arizona, agreed to talk to us for tonight's "360°" special on polygamy.

We went with one female polygamist to her home, and what a home it is -- 32 bedrooms, immaculately decorated, architecture that resembles Versailles. This is not the typical polygamist's home, but size is a great benefit in this kind of family.

Linda (who did not want her last name used to protect her family) was afraid to give too many specific numbers and details about her life. But she did tell us she lives with at least ten other wives, and has more than 30 children, nine of which she has given birth to herself.

Many of the wives in the house have paying jobs, she said. The husband they all share has a job they do not want to disclose. We also talked to one of Linda's teenage daughters. She said she is not sure if she will be a polygamist too, but claims it's the most normal lifestyle in the world.

In addition to Linda, we interviewed nine other male and female polygamists, all from different families, who say they have plural marriages because it's a religious commandment. They are fundamentalist Mormons, who believe the Mormon Church made a mistake more than a century ago when it banned polygamy. One woman said, "Why is love punished? That's what our lives are about. Love, love and more love."

The women acknowledge their husbands must have significant stamina. When we asked a question that a lot of us are curious about regarding how conjugal visits are determined, a woman named Joyce joked that whichever wife draws the short straw is the one who sleeps with the husband that night! But she then added in seriousness that it's all decided by good communication among the wives, who are her best friends, as well as their husband.

The people we talked to are not followers of Warren Jeffs, the man recently named one of the FBI's 10 most wanted, but they are not ready to vilify him until a jury finds him guilty. They dress conservatively and act conservatively, and say they are open-minded concerning how other people live.

But they do not believe the rest of society is open-minded enough when it comes to their lifestyle, which they say they are not willing to give up, no matter what the law says.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 1:35 PM ET
  90 Comments
I notice in the reporting on this sect that men are allowed to multiple wives, but women are not allowed to have multiple husbands. Where's the justice in THAT?
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 1:55 PM ET
I don't think there's anything wrong with having multiple wives or husbands, as long everyone's happy with it. If the people you talked to were happy with their situation, in love with their partners, and leading the life they want then what's wrong with that? But it is unthinkable what Warren Jeffs has gotten away with, and that he hasn't been stopped.
Posted By Anonymous Molly, Coleville, CA : 2:06 PM ET
Living in Salt Lake City I hear about polygamists all of the time and Utah has had several notorious defendants. When I have seen polygamists defend their lifestyle through the media the women seem almost as if they have been brainwashed to believe this is the only way to live and they seem to have absolutely no knowledge of the "outside" world because they live in seclusion. So I'm not sure how open minded they really are. It seems to me that girls are married off at an extremely young age so they won't be exposed to other lifestyles.
Posted By Anonymous Phaedra, Salt Lake City, UT : 2:22 PM ET
Hi Gary,
Polygamy as a life choice is not one I personally would care to live. However, if there is no child abuse, no molestation, the wives are not held against their will, and financially they can support their family on their own then I think I will just mind my own business. I'll let the authorities bring to justice the ones who are committing crimes in the name of polygamy..Thanks for bring the story to us. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 2:22 PM ET
I don't understand why American's have to alway's play big brother. Many Arab countries observe multiple wives. It's ok to be gay or in Kansas get married when your a child but in the US, it is not ok to have multiple spouses. What's the big deal? Can't we just live?
Posted By Anonymous Phil, Colorado Springs, Colorado : 2:33 PM ET
Just curious... are there examples of 1 woman marrying 10 husbands (in the name of "love")? The present practice is kinda male chauvinistic, don't you think?
Posted By Anonymous Larry, Atlanta, GA : 2:42 PM ET
So who are the rest of us to judge, anyway? If those involved are consenting adults, then it's not our place to decide, is it?
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer Meyer, Omaha, Nebraska : 2:43 PM ET
At any point in the piece (Which I have not seen) is the subject of the standard of living for the majority of polygamists raised? It is my understanding that prosperous polygamists (in this country) are by far the exception to the rule. Also, child molestation and sexual abuse reportedly runs rampant in these communities. I have no doubt that the "family" on which this interview was focused appears to be well off and well adjusted, but there is a reason polygamy doesn't work in industrialsed nations. It has much less to do with "morals" and ideas of "right and wrong" and much more to do with the difficulties of a single provider being able to adequately care for a large number of dependant wives and children. Polygamy is a perfectly acceptable system in many cultures, but most if not all of them are much less industrialised than the US. There was a time when having a potential family workforce of over 40 wives and children would have been a great advantage. Thats a lot of free labor, and employee loyalty would probably be pretty high. The largely aggrarian economic bases of pre or non industrialised nations have long depended and in many cases continue to depend on systems such as this.
As with many subjects which recieve a lot of attention in this country, this issue is clouded by a lot of conservative and religious based moral outrage when the issue is at it's core an economic issue. There are a lot of poygamists mentioned in the bible, after all, but very few of them had to plan for retirement and managed healthcare.
Posted By Anonymous Lindsey Portland Oregon : 2:43 PM ET
Why do we still call this country the land of the free when so many nonsensical laws restrict what we can and cannot do?

Who are these people hurting by choosing this lifestyle? Land of the free my a**
Posted By Anonymous Landogarner, Minnesota : 2:44 PM ET
I say more power to you if you choose to live in a plural marriage. I myself would not be able to do it as I am selfish and would want my spouse all to myself. But if all particpants are consenting adults then I don't see an issue. I myself am in a 12 year same sex relationship and am all too familiar with society trying to impose restrictions on my life. My family - especially my children - suffer not from the life I lead but from societal reaction to my life. I can imagine that polygamist families face similar societal judgement as misunderstood members of society.
Posted By Anonymous Melissa, Albuquerque NM : 2:46 PM ET
Honestly, I think that with the divorce rate being what it is that polygamy may have value.

One of the problems in today's marriage is that it's hard to be the "right one". Women are learning a new role and are discovering that they have less commitment to their relationships. Many women will openly tell you they wish they could have a part-time husband.

Men on the other hand are having difficulty adapting to women's new role. In many ways they're going against their wiring.

This sounds terrible but in many ways polygamy uses women's worst attributes against them. For some reason women compete against each other and can be mean and downright cruel behind the scenes. The currency in trade is time and attention from the husband. Peer pressure somewhat forces the women to remain on good behavior.

For many folks the emancipation in the last 40 years has only introduced them to the low road. No need for manners, open disrespect, unnecessary cruelty
Posted By Anonymous Ugly, Baltimore, MD : 2:47 PM ET
In an age when gay marraige is legal, and lesbians go to sperm banks to have children without getting married, and in a day when many welfare mom's have multiple children with multiple partners outside of wedlock, why are we punishing these men who are married, and in consentual relationships with there wives? I would rather live with these people who take care of there own kids, have resources to take care of themselves, instead of the rest of the dirtbags who live off welfare and live irresponsible lives. Let them live the way they want to live, they are adults, and the government should not meddle because some feminist group is offended. I am sure if it was one women with multiple husbands it would not be an issure, it would be a joke.
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Gainesville, FL : 2:47 PM ET
To each his/her own. If these folks want to live the plural marriage lifestyle then who are we to tell them that they cannot? Provided the marriage is among consenting adults [and does not impact my taxes ;)], I say leave them alone.
Posted By Anonymous Paul A. Chicago, IL : 2:49 PM ET
I say, to each his own. If polygamists are living their own lives without harming other people, then good for them. I'm all for it. We've grown accustom to men with men, women with women, couples with couples and all other arrangements considered to be unconventional...what's wrong with the polygamist life style then?
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Boca Raton, FL : 2:52 PM ET
"Why is love punished?" I agree with the wives and the husband. It is also a free countries so why be panished?
Posted By Anonymous Dan Arl. Hts., IL : 2:54 PM ET
Are women allowed in this "society" allowed to have multiple husbands?? I think the whole thing is ridiculous. These women obviously have no self esteem or self respect. I think women settle way too often for much less than they deserve and are somehow convinced it's all they are worth. Every woman deserves the love, respect and devotion from a partner committed to her, and only her.
Posted By Anonymous Julia, Dover, DE : 2:56 PM ET
Although I could never be in a polygamist relationship, I find that it being illegal is contray to the concept "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Who am I to judge how other people lead their lives, as long as it does not hurt anyone else?
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Des Moines, IA : 2:56 PM ET
The way I look at it, as long as they don't use state and federal funds to finance their multi-partnered families, and are all consenting adults, go for it. The problem with many polygamist communities is that they prey on young girls, so that even a 13 or 14-year-old can be forced to marry some guy old enough to be her grandfather. The same age boys are often banned from the communities so the old farts don't have to compete with them for the young girls' attentions. I think polygamy should be legalized so that some ground rules can be placed on it, such as age limits and such. And as long as all legal age parties agree to the marriage(s), and they have the financial resources to accomodate their lifestyle, who cares? I mean, it's not my thing, but who am I to say what works for other people?
Posted By Anonymous Pam B. St. Louis, MO : 2:57 PM ET
Deep down I think I'd like to have the variety of 10 wives. Might be fun. The reality though is I have a difficult time now navigating through the emotional and mental minefields of one wife while performing "honey do" gymnastics and last minute anniversary day scavanger hunts. One wife is about all I can take.
Posted By Anonymous Frank, Bangor, PA : 2:57 PM ET
If gay marriage is acceptable to many people, then why isn't polygamy? If a marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is acceptable, then why not between a man and two or more women or a woman and two or more men? Why not other mixes, like two men and three women, as long as everyone is happy and consenting? As far as I know, there is nothing illegal about these living/personal arrangements until someone tries to make them "legal" by "getting married". If you don't believe in gay marriage, then I can understand why you might have a problem with polygamy. Otherwise, I feel that you are being a bit hypocritical.
Posted By Anonymous Ken L Gunther, Columbus, Ohio : 2:57 PM ET
I don't understand what the big deal is anyways. It's a lifestyle that focus's on love, and it's banned? Same goes for gay marriages, but at least with polygamists it's a hetero marriage for those that are afraid of something different.

I think that in the world we live in today we need more love, not hatred. I guess we as humans aren't ready to be open yet. Sad really, all this talk about being open and non-discriminatory, and yet here are people that are afraid to reveal themselves because someone else thinks that this is wrong and should be illegal. Nice. Real nice. Hippicrits.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Jones, San Angelo, Texas : 2:58 PM ET
As to the commnent(s) on why one man can have several wives, but wives can have only one husband, the answer is quite simple. A man doesn't get pregnant. If a man is the only man sleeping with 10 women, they all know who the father is going to be. However, if one woman is sleeping with 10 men... it's going to take a whole lot of testing to figure out "who the daddy."
Posted By Anonymous Liberty Riley, Greensboro, NC : 3:01 PM ET
Who cares if these people want to live polygamous lifestyles? It sounds like they're happy and they're not harming anyone, so let them live how they wish. In this country we're supposed to have the freedom to live our lives in a way which makes us happy. As long as no one is being hurt I have ZERO problem with polygamists and am far more concerned about the federal government's war-like language, which is scarily reminiscent of Waco, than I am about polygamous families in Arizona or Utah!
Posted By Anonymous Shane, San Francisco, CA : 3:01 PM ET
I'm less horrified by the thought of a man with multiple wives as I am of stories that some of these men are taking very young girls as their wives.
Posted By Anonymous Brian (Raleigh, NC) : 3:02 PM ET
To the comment equating polygamy with and agrarian "backwards" lifestyle, how many traditional american families are truly one income? Most of the couples I know both work. If familial structures are determined by the economic matrix then we will see more not less non-traditional lifestyles as each individual is increasing able to maintain themselves.
Posted By Anonymous Simon, Dallas, TX : 3:03 PM ET
I would like to state that i am a member of the "Mormon church"(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) so my veiws maybe one sided as you might think. But they are not we believe that they(the funamentalist mormons) are a good people and shouldn't be looked at differntly we just believe that they may have gotten a little mixed up recently in the idea of polygomy so. So just understand that we aren't them and i think its funny when people mix that up so just let it be known
Posted By Anonymous Tyler, Coralville IA : 3:03 PM ET
If someone wants to have more than 1 spouse, I say let them. In fact, maybe they should be looked up to. As a married man, one wife is enough for me. I don't know how anyone could keep up a great marriage with more that 1 person. Marriage is incredible, but it is hard work.
Posted By Anonymous Charles Atlanta, GA : 3:03 PM ET
As a fan of HBO's Big Love, its seems like a very wonderful and loving arrangement. But I also see the horror it causes the way is practiced in those sect where young girls are forced into it, but an adult woman should have the choice to lead that life style if she choose to do so.

But I have 3 major issues with polygamy:

1. We, 95% of the time have to fund it, yes you do. Even thought they live on these compounds the women are still US and State citizen. Since they are not legally married these are single women with children that get government aid.

2. The State laws againsts it are violate the equal protection clause. The way state go after most of these is by having a judge declare the relationships to the women common law marriages and then charging the man with bigamy or using cohabitations laws that are only used when they feel like it. In Florida its against state law for an unmarried couple to dwell together for a moral reason ... imagine if that was really enforce on everyone.

3. Its cool for lions, not for a human society .....it would destory American life. Look how competitive we are now , imagine if the best most productive men could have all the good women. You would create an entire underclass of lower class, uneducated men, who would have to settle for what left over or choose not to marry. Dont forget 90% of all violent crimes are committed by single men between 19-41.
Posted By Anonymous Mark-Anthony, Gainesville FL : 3:04 PM ET
I have nothing against polygamy, but I find it to be sexist. I would like to see a woman with 10 husbands. I think someont mentioned this before...are there any examples of that?
Posted By Anonymous J, San Diego, CA : 3:05 PM ET
So who are the rest of us to judge, anyway? If those involved are consenting adults, then it's not our place to decide, is it?

Jennifer, if you'd been following the coverage, you would have known that not all people involved are either consenting OR adults. Most of these women are married at their father's orders when they are fifteen or younger, whether or not they are willing. Surely you don't think that's a case for 'live and let live'?

FWIW, in cases of truly consenting adults in their right mind, I don't have a major problem with polygamy. It's the coercion and the lack of gender reciprocity that makes this little better than slavery for women.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 3:05 PM ET
Polygamy is such an emotionally-charged term - filled with so many religious, legal and historical prejudices - that perhaps a better story would be about the growth of polyamory in America.

"Polyamory" is a relatively new term, coined to describe a committed non-monogomous relationship amongst more than two people.

Except for the obscure laws against cohabitation and the like, polyamory does not have the legal problems of polygamy. It is simply a relationship of three or more people who commit to love, honor and respect each other.

Based upon the fact that upwards of 50% of all marriages are doomed to divorce from the start; and that probably another 30% of married couple remain together for children, finances, religion or inertia, the present state of monogamous marriage is not healthy. Perhaps polyamory is a concept whose time has come... again.

An objective study, without pre-determined religious and/or moral judgments, would be quite interesting and informative.
Posted By Anonymous David Slachter, Miami Lakes, Florida : 3:05 PM ET
It seems like it is their choice, I often wonder what happens to all of the leftover boys? If one man gets 10 wives, what happens to the other 9 men that don't get a wife? Do they all have to leave and be celibate? I haven't heard of any energetic girls left over taking on 9 husbands.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Lethbridge, Alberta : 3:05 PM ET
The Mormons believe it is there RESPONSIBILITY to God to "bring souls to earth". Which is why you wouldn't see a woman with a bunch of husbands...They need more wives to help grow the population.

If I thought it was my responsibility to God, I'd do it, too.

Why do we care what other people do in the privacy of their own homes?
Posted By Anonymous Carrie, Sonoma, CA : 3:06 PM ET
It's not about love, it's about greed. There must be some men who are unable to marry because one man has ten women. It may appear to be a harmless indulgence, but the societal effects should be considered over an individual's desires.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Baltimore, MD : 3:07 PM ET
Gary:

Did you ask them about any of the issues raised in "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer? If they are not affiliated with Jeffs and the FLDS, what is their affiliation? What are the religious/social underpinnings of their particular form of polygamy? Last but not least:

What happens on a date between a single woman and a man who already has ten wives?
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Rambin, Tyler, Texas : 3:07 PM ET
Is there any more to the story? This is an awfully short story on such a complex and fascinating subject...
Posted By Anonymous Becky Savastio, Philadelphia, PA : 3:08 PM ET
Maybe it's because of my Catholic up bringing, but I can't help but find the idea that any woman would be willing to share her husband with any one else just wierd. I wonder how common jealousy among the wives is.
Posted By Anonymous Kristen, Los Angeles, CA : 3:09 PM ET
If our country moves away from the traditional marriage definition (allowing gay and polygamist marriage) we are opening up a can of worms. We would have to redefine the entire tax/healthcare/inheritance/parenting system.
Consider the following Headlines:
"Man files 30 dependents on tax return!"
"Man marries 3rd wife after tiring of his first two!"
"Second wife of man sues for partial custody of third wives children. (She's just as much the childs parent as anyone)"
"Bisexual man marries 2 men and 3 women in joint ceremony. (In the name of love.)"
Posted By Anonymous Jim Philadelphia PA : 3:10 PM ET
This country was founded on the principal that it is not the government's job to enforce a standard of morality on its people. It should exist only to make sure we all live in relative peace with each other. What right is it of the government to tell people who (or in this case how many) a person marries? This land that professes to be free sure doesn't allow people the freedom of choices that don't hurt anybody else. It only offers the freedom to choose the norm.
Posted By Anonymous Crystal, Wheaton IL : 3:10 PM ET
I'm in no way a proponent of polygamy, but I don't see how a country that is so open to unions between members of the same sex can be so self-righteous when it comes to polygamists. And the comments about it being male chauvenistic are really pretty stupid when you consider that the case for polygamy is largely founded on having lots of children. Political correctness aside, a little understanding of the human anatomy and pregnancy should easily clarify why we don't see one woman with many men.
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan, Huntsville AL : 3:11 PM ET
If you think the issue is about sexual freedom or cultural tolerance, you haven't been paying attention. These women are neither consenting nor adults. Victims of domestic abuse rarely say there is anything wrong in a public interview.
Posted By Anonymous Peter, Chandler, AZ : 3:12 PM ET
I don't think this is about love at all. This is about power.
Posted By Anonymous Dianna Williamsburg, VA : 3:14 PM ET
I cannot imagine living like this. I don't particularly want to get married anytime soon, and I definitely don't want children. I love living alone; living with nine women and 30 children would make me crazy in about 25 minutes. I'd be committed.

Still, I don't have a problem with their beliefs as long as they are adults making their own choices. When 13-year-old girls are getting married and having babies, when children are deprived of any real education, hidden from the outside world, and then thrown out into that world if they choose to question their religion, it's a huge problem for me. Children have no say in their parents or their upbringings; they are essentially helpless. Parents who mistreat their children should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, even if what they are doing follows their religious law.

Basically, you can have freewheelin', fancy free polygamist sex until the cows come home and I don't care unless you're forcing kids to do it with you. If you love your children, you should want to give them a chance to grow up and make their own choices, even if they're not the choices you made.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Baltimore, MD : 3:15 PM ET
It's about male dominance, and it's been religiously cultivated into these women since they were born. These women are raised believing that this is okay and that this is in their best interest... as told by their men. It has been documented ... women in polygamist society have found it difficult if not impossible to escape it. Male and female members of the society retain an almost "cultish" grip on the lives of these victims.
Posted By Anonymous Jack, Columbia MD : 3:16 PM ET
There is a small tribe I read about in anthropolgy class that practices the opposite. In Nepal, this tribe has the women who marry multiple (usually only 2-3) husbands. Unfortunately, I don't remember much more about it. But, it is the only documented place in the world that does it.
Posted By Anonymous Jill, Baltimore, MD : 3:16 PM ET
Gary-

What happends in a Society where there are less men and more women?

Riaz
Posted By Anonymous Riaz, Jersey City, NJ : 3:19 PM ET
It would be nice to see a show that highlights plural marriage in other cultures and countries. There are many countries where plural marriage is also banned but people still live the polygamist lifestyle.

It would also be nice to see a piece about polygamists outside of Utah, we aren't the only state in the union with polygamist communities.

As a mormon and a Utahan I cringe when I see stories on polygamy, mostly because they focus on Utah and the word "Mormon" is casually thrown around a lot. The LDS church does NOT condone polygamy, and by news reports lumping the so-called "fundamentalist mormons" (They are NOT mormons) in with the LDS church...it makes it hard on us regular LDS members.

I don't care how many spouses a person has...but they need to be accountable for the welfare of their families and live by the laws of the land. MANY of the Colorado City polygamists are notorious for scamming the welfare system and for engaging in statutory rape by taking minors out of the country to marry them because they aren't old enough to be legally married in this country. That is why polygamy is such a big deal...for those of you who don't seem to "get it".
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, North Logan Utah : 5:27 PM ET
The point everyone seems to be missing is this: most polygamous families do not have the economics to support themselves and all those children. There is also no protection for the women who are not legally married to the husband. Furthermore, many of the plural wives are supported by state assistance.

That aside, I have no problem with any family who believes in and practices plural marriage, can support themselves without government assistance, and does not forceably marry off young girls.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Salt Lake City, UT. : 5:27 PM ET
I notice that many are falling into the trap of "It's not hurting anyone" herd mentality. It's an illogical argument. Often times these situations are not entered into freely. Many times this occurs in a cult surrounding and involves young girls. The watering down of what constitutes marriage is responsible for this. People seem to accept things if they don't directly affect themselves. If we're going to say that "if they're in love, who's business is it?", then let's allow 8-year old girls to marry 60-year old men. Or two 14-year old boys marry, or a man and his horse or dog, or maybe people should be able to marry themselves or their parents/siblings so they can get the same benefits as hetero married couples. Let's not discriminate. Let's just open the floodgates and let everyone marry everyone else. Think about it people, we would all truly be "family." That's just stupid. Polygamy will result in child abuse, domestic abuse, unfulfilled people, a financial burden on the taxpayer to provide social services for a man married to 15 women with 75 kids he can't afford to raise. You can't say under the Constitution that you can marry more than one person, but only if you can afford it or you can marry multiple partners but you can't have kids if you can't afford to raise them. There's nothing wrong with the way we've done marriage for millenia. Why do we think we know better now? Time to wake up and come to our senses.
Posted By Anonymous Corey, Houston, Texas : 5:32 PM ET
While consenting adults are supposed to be able to do what they want to do, this is actually an issue of underage girls being issued to older men.

This is called child sexual abuse. Imagine your 13 year old daughter being told that she must have marry and have sex with someone 3 times her age or she will be punished by God.

Polygamy sounds harmless until you realize this.
Posted By Anonymous Pat, Oakley, Utah : 5:32 PM ET
Its amazing how addicting Polygamist news stories are!

Do they all share one checking account? Do the non working wives get health insurance? How many dependents can they claim on their tax return? Do the working wives have their own 401K's?
Posted By Anonymous GoldDigger Dallas, Texas : 5:33 PM ET
Many people don't really understand the issues with polygamy. I live within a few blocks of a pretty large polygamy area here in the Salt Lake Valley, - it's not about love. It's about domination, secrecy, child abuse and manipulation. Polygamists do not socialize outside of their sect, - they are not allowed to. They are watched like hawks to make sure that they stay in line. Children are home schooled as they are not allowed to socialize with children that do not come from polygamy families. Young boys are often put out on the streets between the ages of 9 and 12, as they are considered competition to the husband. Girls between the ages of 9 and 14 are given to men as their next wife; the girls have no choice. Often, they are married to someone else in their own family, whether it's their own fathers, or an uncle. It is not unusual for a woman to be "reassigned" to a different husband by their church, - the men make the decisions, the women have no say, as it is their "celestial duty," to conform and adhere. Women are forced to dress in very specific garb, from the "magic underwear," to the ankle length granny dresses with black or brown boots and ankle socks. For most women, hair has to be worn long and is either pulled back or braided. Most women do not drive, most are not allowed to learn how to drive; the ones that do are driving very old beat up cars, while their husbands are running around in expensive SUVs and Hummers. Most of the women and children look like they are in absolute poverty. Many of the women and children are on welfare, declaring to be single mothers with many children and no source of income. The rest of us are paying for their lifestyle. The women that do escape the polygamy life are exiled, usually leaving their children and whatever belongs they have behind, and they are forever exiled from their families and what they know to be their friends, - they are out alone in the world with no income and no skills. It is not the life that most people think. Living this close to it, it is disgusting.
Posted By Anonymous Pat, Herriman Utah : 5:41 PM ET
I can't believe some of the people that have written in saying they don't see a problem with polygamy. I live in St. George, UT which is right next door to Colorado City. These poor women are shells of human beings! They are married off as young as 11 and often to an uncle or cousin. If that is not rape I don't know what is!! Wakeup, you so called open minded people! If it was not illegal than how would these sickos be held accountable for their actions?! All you people that are writing in saying you don't see a problem with it need to take a step back, you don't live in the thick of it like I do! You don't go to the grocery store and see an old man with his way to young wife by his side. YOu don't see their baby hooked up to a machine because he/she is probably imbred! Someone has got to protect the children, that is what it has to come down to. What happen to peoples morals and standards?!!
Posted By Anonymous Cindy, St. George UT : 5:43 PM ET
What ever floats your boat. As a gay American I am the last person that would want to tell someone else who to love. There are simply to many laws that restrict the people from living the lives that they want to live. Bush can drop bombs but some guy in Arizona cant have a few wives? I think we've got a lot of our ideals backwards.
Posted By Anonymous Annie, Whittier CA : 5:44 PM ET
I think gay marriage is a lot better than polygamy.
All this nonsense about love is silly considering how much brainwashing goes into making women accept polygamy.
So to most people brainwashing and using women as slaves and servants is a lot better than gay marriage as long as some of these women say they "like it". It is easy to say "I like it" when you think you have no other options and your parents and community and polygamist church brainwash you that way. AS far as I checked no one told gay people that they have to be gay to win the love of close family and friends.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, San Francisco : 5:44 PM ET
In addition to my previous comments I would like to add...

If you aren't "Mormon" please don't tell us what we believe. I don't tell YOU what YOU believe...the woman that said that mormons believe it's our duty to bring sould into the world is poorly informed and spreading incorrect information and using it in a context that sheds a bad light on the LDS church. Sweeping generalizations are great, aren't they?
Posted By Anonymous Suzanne, North Logan Utah : 5:49 PM ET
Why don't they lobby to have the law changed to allow plural marriage? If they had respect for the country that they lived in, they would live by our laws and if there was a law they thought wrong or unjust they can try to have it changed.

Instead they have a complete and utter disrespect for the U.S. government and our laws. They aren't just breaking the laws against polygamy...look a little deeper and numerous infractions against many different laws (many involving child abuse, spousal abuse, sex with minors, and fraud). They should be subject to the same laws that the rest of us are.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Smithfield, UT : 5:59 PM ET
People have been using religion to promote any agenda they want for ages. The fact that this group promotes slavery, mind control, child abuse, and promiscuity (for males) is not surprising in the least.
Posted By Anonymous Kerri Beaudoin, Arvada CO : 6:00 PM ET
Two thoughts:
First, what difference is there between polygamy and extra-marital affairs? Whether a man has two "wives" or five, remember: You only need one additional person in the mix to have multiple partners.
Second, study history: What is taboo today will be considered accepted practice three generations from now. We view polygamists and pedophiles with the same disgust and disdain that people of our grandparents and great-grandparents generations had for the idea of homosexuality. As a "lifestyle choice" becomes more common, we look for new and different things. That's the price we pay for living without standards. Nothing personal or judgemental, that's just the truth.
Posted By Anonymous MG, Atlanta, GA : 6:03 PM ET
For those of you intersted in gaining a harsh, realistic education on Fundamental Mormonism, check out the book "Under The Banner Of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith," by Jon Krakauer. It's a crash course in historical and modern-day Mormon life that will make you want to join the FBI and be part of the group that catches Warren Jeffs.
Posted By Anonymous Jaime Smith, Foothill Ranch, CA : 6:04 PM ET
Having been LDS my entire life, and having read the dairies of polygamist family members from early in the 19th centruy, I can tell you that many of these people do enter into these types of marriages because they truly believe they are following God's will. They work hard at supporting their families and keeping them together. Leaving out the ones who are obviously cult-like in controling not only their own families, but entire communities, and who are the ones arranging marriages between children and adults, and defrauding the government by filing false welfare and assistance claims, then what you have left are consenting adults who do love each other and who work to support their families. Just like the rest of us do. We have two seperate classes of people here. It's important to remember that.

What is scary are the groups like Jeff's who many believe will end up like Waco or Jim Jones.

I don't see anybody arresting a man who has a wife and family, but caries on affair after affair, some even long term ones. He isn't held accountable for the "other" woman or the children he creates. In fact, many in this country slyly wink at the situation and pat him on the back. It's a bit hypocritical.
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Greeley, CO : 6:06 PM ET
I often wonder what happens to all of the leftover boys? If one man gets 10 wives, what happens to the other 9 men that don't get a wife? Do they all have to leave and be celibate?

In Muslim countries, where men are allowed to take up to four wives, there seem to be a lot of young, single men willing to strap bombs to themselves in the name of their religion. Makes you wonder.
Posted By Anonymous Diana, Detroit, Mich. : 6:19 PM ET
So what's the next 'moral' law going to be? The age difference should not be more than 10 between couples? The man should be the older one?
Posted By Anonymous Pam, Santa Clara, CA : 6:52 PM ET
I see reports all the time about men who have been ex-communicated from the FLDS. The strange thing about these men is that they speak outagainst the church ONLY when they are disgruntled with their spiritual leader. I have no pity for these guys because if they were still with the FLDS "in" crowd the silence would be deafening.
What mindless drones these people (polygamists) are...
Posted By Anonymous Bob Gomez, Phoenix, AZ : 7:02 PM ET
I am a wife in a polygamous union. My husband, his other wife, and I are all best friends and we enterred this relationship knowingly, voluntarily and as adults. No, we are not Mormons(LDS) or FLDS, nor are we muslim, Arab, Indian, etc. And there are 10 of thousands of people just like us in the United States.

Polygamy is not against federal law and it is actually not against the law in several states. Bigamy, having multiple licensed marriages is illegal in every state.

We have a pretty good standard of living because we can afford to have dual incomes and still have someone at home for the kids. Of the polygamist families I know of, it is pretty common for one or more of the wives to have jobs and for the family to have a pretty decent income.

We need to dissassociate "polygamy" from "Mormons" and from the idea of child molestors, arranged marriages, abuse, and oppression -- these things all happen with alarming frequency in monogamous relationships.

The only oppression we and other plogymist families like mine are subject to is one of society oppressing us. We would like nothing better that to be 100% completely open about our relationship, but we can't for fear of reprisal and scorn.

BTW, how is polygamy that much different than getting married, getting divorced, marrying, getting divorced again, and marrying a third person?
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Sacramento, California : 7:20 PM ET
There is another harsher side to polygamy that wasn't covered and that are the high amount of teenage boys who are kicked out and left to fend for themselves. Many are mentally and physically abused which in my opinion, is because they are competition. The men who practice polygamy do it for the power they have over the underage women they marry and the children they produce. The side you portrayed does not give voice to the teenage boys who lived in that environment and I think would be interesting to explore.
Posted By Anonymous M. Wong, Van Nuys, CA : 7:38 PM ET
Consenting, mature adults doing their own thing? Cool.

Girls having their wills crushed under years of social indoctrination, forbidden to leave these compounds, and generally treated like property their entire lives, so that they believe they are 'happy'? Not cool.
Posted By Anonymous Mitch, Orlando, FL : 7:43 PM ET
...That's what is so interesting
how they develope their own laws
not acknowledgeing the outside world.
Posted By Anonymous Swimms Bedford, TX : 7:53 PM ET
'Right' or 'wrong' in society is always determined by how a majority of the population feels about an issue. The rule of thumb should be (as many previous posts have stated) it is okay as long as these are consenting adults and their actions are not negatively impacting others around them. The problem arises when vulnerable, underage girls are forced to marry older men - that's where intervention is required.
Posted By Anonymous Charu, Orlando, Florida : 8:14 PM ET
I have noticed most think these plural marriages are between consenting adults. Boy are you wrong and way off base.
Most of these women are Young girls. Barely old enough to have children and most are all PG.
None have any identity of there own. They don't talk when the husband is with them. They DONT have any opinion of their own. Nor any life of their own.
If they give their husband any trouble or have their own opinion, they are put in jail. And that's the truth. And eventually put in a mental hospital if they continue giving HIM problems.
I fell you better find out a little more before you say."this is ok ".
IT isn't ok. Old men marry (without their consent) young girls.
Lets talk about the Boys from there. They are run off and put outside of town. Only to wander without no means of support or a home. Why you say.....because the OLD men don't want them there.....to many men take wives.
Now tell me, is this OK?
Posted By Anonymous Judy, Hurricane Utah : 9:04 PM ET
I'm convinced that these women are brainwashed. That many women living in one house and they all get along and are best friends?????? That doesn't happen in the real world.
Posted By Anonymous Shawn, Memphis, TN : 9:51 AM ET
What is most important is that there are young girls and young boys being abused.

What adults choose to do doesn't not concern me much, but there are many reports of young girls being forced to marry, often relatives...and of young boys being abandoned, left to live on the street.

It behooves us to protect children.
Posted By Anonymous Ruth, Princeton, NJ : 9:57 AM ET
Oh come on! You will notice most of the favorable comments have been made by men. Of course!! It a fantasy most of them will never realize. A table of sweets while the women in these situations must subscribe to the boink a month club with so many in line for the favors of these sad, sick men who have to marry children to get to heaven. All about love? I think not. Don't try to gloss over a deviant practice with flowery words.

It is exploitation of women and children. Those that applaud this type of life have set women back 500 years.
Posted By Anonymous Dee Superior, WI : 10:21 AM ET
Although polygamy might not be the norm and seem unusual to all of us who believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman I believe that they have the right to do whatever they want as long as everyone in the party agrees with it. If we have now allowed two people from the same sex to get married why is it so wrong to allow three or four women to marry the same man? As long as the people involved in any marriage agree to be there and do so willingly I think we should let them be.
Posted By Anonymous Luisa, Boston , MA : 10:59 AM ET
What kind of a madman wants to have to remember more than one birthday and anniversary?
Posted By Anonymous Philip, Denver, CO : 11:01 AM ET
Someone asked what happens to the leftover youg boys? They are forced to leave the community and fend for themselves away from the support group they grew up with. Some find their way into cities and support themselves however they can.

It's Utah's own version of the lost boys. Coupled with the servitude of pre-teens and child sexual abuse, I don't believe anyone can say this isn't hurting anyone.
Posted By Anonymous Pat, Oakley, Utah : 11:35 AM ET
The parallel some bloggers are trying to establish between mormons and muslims is irrelevant. In muslim societies polygamy was dictated by the fact that scores of men died in wars and it was almost impossible for women to make a living and provide for the children without a husband. Now that times are changing the middle eastern societies are moving away from the tradition that once served a humane purpose. In the case of this man sought by FBI, welfare of women was probably the last thing on his mind.
Posted By Anonymous Karl, Orlando, FL : 12:37 PM ET
Wake up people! Not everyone who practices Polygamy lives like the sterotypical ones we see on TV, or if you live in Utah, in the stores etc.

Some people practice polygamy without being a "group". Some practice in the privacy of their own homes.
Some who practice dress in totally normal, every day clothing, although they may try to be a bit more modest then society.
Some who practice beleive strongly that only a girl can choose who to court and marry, there fore, if a girl approached an older man, it is because she is interested in him (maybe his wealth, maybe his house, maybe for love).

Not every polygamist that lives in Hilldale and Colorado City is a member of the FLDS church under the direction of Waren Jeffs. Some of them belong to another group called "Second Ward" who are not as strict as other polygamist groups.
Posted By Anonymous Kate M., Lehi, Utah : 1:10 PM ET
I am from Utah, however I am not of the LDS "Mormon" faith. I too agree that people should not relate polygamy to the LDS church, due to the fact that the church does not condone polygamy. But one must also realize that polygamy was banned by the church just before Utah became a state and started receiving US govenment funds. A coincidence? I think not.
Posted By Anonymous Greg, Riverton Utah : 1:14 PM ET
It's interesting that most of the LDS posting here are rabidly against polygamy, and most of the non-LDS don't really care one way or the other, let well enough alone and all that.

It's nice to talk about brainwashing, but this just makes me wonder who is being brainwashed.
Posted By Anonymous Rick, American Fork, UT : 1:31 PM ET
All about love? Get real! Exactly how much time do these great fathers have to give to 30 + kids? How much time do they have to spend with their wives? This is not love, it is selfishness and blindness.
Posted By Anonymous Milena, Ft. Lauderdale, FL : 2:00 PM ET
The whole thing reminds me of a herd of cow elk. But the women in polygamist relationships should take a lesson from the cows. They, at least, will pick the strongest, biggest bull with the best genetics possible to pass on to their young. Hmmmm. Not sure why the men are in control here, seems they are out numbered.
Posted By Anonymous Jenny, Livingston, Montana : 2:36 PM ET
I loved your interview with the many poligamyst women, However I still have alot of questions for them. mnaybe you have the answers.

1) Did they chose their husband or they had arrnaged marriges?

2)Do they teach the children that they can have other life style if they want?
or they teach them that this is the only way to be saved? Do they encorage children to study and go to collage?

I guess I don't have a problem with it, if they are doing it because they want it an the live happy this way. After all there is noumeros weman that share their husbands without even know it. But I hate the Idea that they do it becasaue they are brain washed.
Posted By Anonymous Alicia , Hallandale FL : 2:41 PM ET
To me it is about child rape and pedophilia and keeping the girls under their control with a lack of education and constant pregnancies. We need to save these girls!
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Chandler, AZ : 3:19 PM ET
OMG! I am astonished by the number of comments from folks who are turning a blind eye to the issue being discussed. This isn't about accepting another person's way of life or another group's way of life. This is about protecting children from being raised in an environment that is harmful to their health and well-being, both mentally and physically.
The law isn't there to prevent consenting adults from free choices, it's there to prevent adults from taking those free choices away from the children in their "flock".
I've read John Krakhauer's book "Under the Banner of Heaven" and learned so much about the extremists of this religion. It literally sickens me and I find it totally incomprehensible that this has been going on as long as it has and is continuing to go on. Although the greatest injustice is to the child and adult female "victims", the amount of money that hard working, tax paying citizens are being robbed of for the welfare of these people. Some research has exposed the fact that some of these polygamist "families" live in sprawling, ranch-like spreads and most of the expenses to run the home are covered by state/county taxpayers. How anyone that is not participating in this lifestyle find it to be acceptable in the least bit is beyond me!
Posted By Anonymous Rikki, GB WI : 3:33 PM ET
Rikki, not all polygamists live that way. Many thousands of us live in normal everyday neighborhoods. Many of us are not Mormons or FLDS.

Again, disassociate polygamy from Mormons, FLDS, child abuse, arranged marriages, living off welfare, and multi-family communes.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Sacramento, California : 4:25 PM ET
I think that it is the young men who get lost in all of this. Living in Utah myself I have read several sad articles of young boys who are dropped off in St. George or Cedar City when they are young teens and told never to return home. If being banished from home as a young teenager, purely so the other established men can have thier multiple wives, isn't abusive, I don't know what is. Who takes care of all these young boys. I'm sure many of them have got caught up in crime and other seedy groups just to survive. It really is a tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous Kalen, Sandy, Utah : 5:20 PM ET
I can't believe how naive some people are being in their comments. This is not about a "union", it's not about love and it's not even in the same realm as a same-sex-marriage argument! The reason these particular polygamists (and not ALL) are in legal trouble is because of the mind-control over young women, children and multiple wives who have no choice. Not only that, but the current issues at hand have to do with allegations of child abuse, an effective white-slavery trade, human trafficking across state and country borders, and tax evasion, fraud and misappropriation of funds! Those are all illegal actions that the Warren Jeffs' followers have been accused of! It doesn't matter that many of the men have multiple wives/partners. You can have as many partners as you want and that part isn't illegal. What IS illegal is forcing 14 year old girls to be your 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, etc. wife, abusing them, and keeping them in an atmosphere of fear in the name of god. The reason it's looking a lot like Waco and Jonestown is because we're dealing with radicals and fanatics. Obviously not all Mormons are like this. And obviously, not all people with multiple and plural partners are like this. But the actions that these people are being accused of warrant intervention. And they just happen to be using their religion to thwart the authorities. They are taking advantage of the system, and, plain and simple, anyone who breaks the rules needs to face the consequences. No matter what religion they are, no matter who they sleep with. It is about power. It's about power and seeing how much they can get away with - which, if we keep pooh-poohing around the topic because we're all too afraid to take a stand on what is LEGALLY right and LEGALLY wrong, instead of making everything a morality question - they will get away with it. They will hide behind the "freedom of religion" clause if you let them.
Posted By Anonymous Katurah, Milwaukee, WI : 5:31 PM ET
We must remember what this is all really about it...which is old men getting thier rocks off with young girls on a regular basis. Heck what 50 yr old man wouldn't want to be hitting some nice 19 yr old stuff!!!
Posted By Anonymous Thomas, Spokane, WA : 5:49 PM ET
Read the title this blog is about polygamy: "Polygamists claim it's all about love", not the situation with that nut case in texas. There is no doubt he and his should be jailed for abusing minors.

Polygamy is a different lifestyle choice, but so is lesbianism, gay unions, Islam, etc. To persecute these people just because they are polygamists is an affront to the 1st amendment of the constitution. They have the constitutional right to live and raise their children how they want to. As long as they do not abuse the children or anyone in the family.
Posted By Anonymous Richard, San Diego, Ca : 10:37 PM ET
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