High Desert Hoofbeats
‘Good Will to Men’...
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Jan 02, 2014 | 1260 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Judicial thinkers have not taken the holidays off in Utah this year. Decisions handed down in federal courts just prior to Christmas have deemed Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage as well as some aspects of the state’s polygamy laws to be unconstitutional, sending some Utah politicians and our governor into a tizzy of vitriol and spending that may be a waste of money and breath.

These divisive issues may never be off the table of debate but I am relieved that some intelligent people, with whom we entrust some of our most sensitive matters, have thought the arguments through and have taken stands, albeit unpopular in such a conservative state.

The two decisions are a step in guarding important personal freedoms that align with the liberties we Americans have so strongly protected for well over 200 years. While there is still and may always be discomfort and disagreement as to what is socially acceptable, these decisions are a command to lay down arms in these moral fights. In a nutshell, in this Christmas season, they adhere to this code: “Good Will To Men.”

I am not entirely comfortable with the recent edicts, but I am willing to consider that the arguments have been dissected and debated and thought out and chewed up by some of the most keen and fair-minded people in our state and nation. I am disappointed but not surprised by our governor’s reaction to challenge the rulings, allocating untold money, effort and time that could be better spent on pressing needs.

These judicial decisions were made just about the same time as a popular television character made antigay comments, stirring a national discussion that made more headlines than Utah’s news stories. The coincidence of his remarks and the public’s reaction, coupled with the judicial decision here in Utah, really got my thoughts stirring about what is right and what is wrong.

We have protections that allow us to say just about anything we like. I am forever thankful for people who dare to say how they feel, whether I concur or not. And now in Utah we have protections of polygamous cohabitation and gay marriage. We don’t have to like the decisions, and we are free to voice our disagreements. We are not free to hatefully damage other people. In other words, we have a sort of free-for-all that now is legally protected. Our governor calls this a “chaotic situation” and is vigorously challenging the same-sex marriage ruling by asking the 10th Circuit Court in Denver to stop it.

I don’t like the polygamy decision. I feel that many women and children are brought up and brought into living situations that don’t protect their liberties and that abuse state and federal tax and welfare privileges. But if people of legal age freely choose to live in that manner, then it is not my right to stop them. Untold numbers of people on our globe participate in living arrangements with partners of their choosing without being legally wed. If our laws were to ban gay and polygamous living arrangements, would our laws also be able to regulate all the households that operate outside of wedlock?

It’s these issues that make me grateful we have judges and courts to sort them out, even if it makes those arbiters unpopular and causes further dissension. Hopefully, the rifts that widen during these turning-point moments will ultimately narrow, and recent decisions will help manage the chaos, not create it.

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