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Posted 14 May 2001   For week ended May 11, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 10May01

By Rosemary Pollock

Polygamy Remain's Controversial Shows Washington Times

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Faced with a rising tide of angry public opinion, 28-year-old polygamist, Jeremy Thompson is fighting back. His story and the recent history of polygamy in Utah among the descendants of the Mormon pioneers is told in a lengthy article in the Washington Times' weekly magazine "Insight on the News."

Alarmed by reports from an advocacy group called Tapestry Against Polygamy, the state attorney general hired a full-time investigator in October to probe the state's "closed societies." Last month, Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt signed into law the "child-bride" bill, which stiffened penalties for parents or others who coerce girls younger than age 18 into marriage.

Thompson is a practicing polygamist. Born and raised as a fundamentalist Mormon, he took more than one wife to reach the highest level of exaltation in heaven. "It's not an easy way of life. It's hell unless you have the conviction that what you're doing is right. You can't overcome the fear and jealousy that come with this unless you rely on the Lord. I think most men would crack under the pressure," Thompson said.

"The Legislature has become more hostile in the last two or three years because of the perception of abuse," said former state Rep. David Zolman, a rare public official who has defended polygamy. In Utah, polygamy is outlawed both by statue and the state constitution.

Thompson has two wives and six children. His legal wife, Melanie, age 27, and his "spiritual" wife Mary Jane, age 23 made history when they appeared with a group of polygamists at the state capitol to testify against the legislation they claim will make it impossible to practice their faith.

To everyone's surprise, they won by getting Legislators to remove controversial language from the child-bride bill. This victory has emboldened some of the polygamous community members to speak out. "People were totally shocked when these polygamous women came out," recalled Melanie Thompson. "We had a group of 11, and people said, 'Wow, I can't believe you have this many.' We said, 'Hey, this is nothing.'"

But the history of persecution shared by polygamists has done little to unite polygamous clans. Many quarrel over differences in their doctrine. Certainly, public opinion continues to run against plural marriage.


Two many wives
Washington DC Times Insight on the News pg30 7May01 N5
By Valerie Richardson
Advocacy groups and legislators are cracking down on polygamy in Utah, but fundamentalist Mormons are fighting back, coming out of the closet to assert their religious beliefs.


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