Mormon Candidates, Gay Marriage, and Polygamy
One argument frequently offered by opponents of gay marriage is that the logic that leads to the legalization of same-sex marriage also implies that polygamy should be legal. Supporters of same-sex marriage seem, in my experience, reluctant to make the obvious response—so what? Why shouldn't a man be permitted two wives or a woman two husbands, provided that all three parties are willing? Most seem to concede, at least by implication, that if same-sex marriage does lead to legalized polygamy, that is an argument against it.
It occurs to me that this raises a potential problem for two of the current crop of Republican candidates. Neither Huntsman nor Romney supports same-sex marriage. Both are Mormons. Surely at some point some curious voter will ask one or the other for his view of polygamy. Given that they are trying to get votes from people who regard polygamy as so obviously wicked that the mere possibility of legalizing it is a convincing argument against legalizing same-sex marriage, what are they to say?
It is true that the Church of Latter-Day Saints abandoned polygamy a century or so back. But it is also true that it was founded by polygamists, throughout its early history regarded polygamy as an important part of its religion, and abandoned it only under severe outside pressure, including military occupation by the U.S. army. Can a believing Mormon really hold that polygamy is not merely a bad idea at the moment but inherently evil? Can someone unwilling to say he believes that polygamy is evil win the Republican nomination?
Has the question come up yet? If so, how did the candidate evade it?