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
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
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.