Hatch on Polygamy

Letter to the Editor
Salt Lake Tribune April 24, 2003

I was stunned to read the remarks U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch made in a town meeting in St. George on April 18. He was asked to define his policy toward polygamy. The issue of child brides came up. In almost all of Utah's polygamous societies, compelling underage girls to enter polygamous unions is the standard method by which young women begin married life. <\p>

Sen. Hatch stated: "All I can say is, I know people in Hildale who are polygamists who are very fine people." <\p>

The senator should find out how old the wives of his polygamist friends were when they married. He seems to believe that Utah's polygamists are simply quaint, hard-working, honest people. But this is a public image that reveals little about the horrors that take place in their communities. How much worse will it become before politicians like Hatch develop the courage to take a stand against the abuses that seem ubiquitous in Utah's polygamous groups? The child bride phenomenon is a natural occurrence in societies that consider polygamy one of the most important religious doctrines there is. The high demand for wives causes men to choose underage girls due to the shortage of women. <\p>

Now is the time for change in Utah politics. We need to make it clear that from now on, avoidance of crimes committed by polygamists should be political suicide and not the other way around. Let us join together in telling our government officials that we will no longer tolerate apathy toward this hideous crime against children. <\p>

Troy Bowles