A problem that Idaho faces in the near future was recently brought to my attention, and it has weighed heavily on my conscience. I see this issue ironically coinciding with the headlines from the last Idaho House and Senate session.
I recently saw a documentary produced locally by one of the four news stations in the valley. It discussed the imminent arrival of polygamists to northern Idaho from Colorado and Utah who (likely) see Idaho as a much more "liberal" place to practice their obscure doctrine. It made me think of Jon Krakauer's book Under the Banner of Heaven. As you know, the meat of this book focused not on mainstream Mormonism, rather the independent sects of Mormons practicing polygamy throughout the West and Canada. They were quite an ugly bunch, readily admitting to men in their 50's marrying children in their teens and fathering uncountable numbers of children. Not to mention incestuous relationships.
This brings me to the current issue that plagued headlines during the last session of the Idaho House and Senate. There was a movement by Dennis Mansfield (no introduction needed) for a bill to add a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage in Idaho. (The sponsor of this bill was Gerry Sweet and another representative who served a mere one term). Although there has never been an initiative push by gay rights groups that would threaten Idaho's definition of marriage, the bill's supporters sought to pre-empt any such movement. Thanks to a few reasonable representatives, this bill was killed. However, Mansfield stated, it is not over yet. There will be another session or, worse yet (you know as well as I do who will sign on the dotted line when solicited in the nether regions of the state) an initiative drive that, if passed in general election, will force a vote to the floor in the 2006 session.
The point is that it is well known that polygamists agree with their nemesis groups on one issue: The freedom to practice. Not that I don't agree with the "freedom" argument, I just don't agree with the relationships between polygamists and their victims.
Eliminating gay freedom does not close the door to polygamists. I haven't even gotten to implications of Islamic practitioners of multiple wives and harems, whose installation in Idaho would make gay marriage and polygamy look tame. That's a whole other issue.
As an admitted moderate and friend of society's alternative sects, I still can't consciously accept polygamists who defy all societal law by practicing plural marriage of youth. I really think that if this is not stopped now, then Idaho will no longer be known as "The Potato State" or, our other stigma of "The Home of Aryan Nation State" but rather, "Come one and all to the most liberal state of the union: The Polygamist State." Later we may add the moniker: "Harems Welcome."
Some may believe these ideas are too far out or radical to actually implement or propose to the public. The fact is, that there is an agenda and this issue is emotional. However, if tolerance of polygamy was outlined in a manner elementary enough for the general public to understand, I truly believe it would be ultimately digestible. They are part and parcel of the Mansfield and Sweet (and whoever the other gentleman was) platform, which they rely on in order to move their constituency to action. This does not imply that Krakauer's book should be used as an example. This book is already vilified by the Mansfield demographic (among others) that shuts down when confronted with this "blasphemy." But there are many sources that would justify these arguments, the most notable of which evidence of polygamist and gay groups conducting unified lobbying.
For more local opinions, visit www.boiseweekly.com and see our Guest Opinion section. New this week
The Grandchildren Of Nazism, Vintage Shrubbery by Dan Krejci
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