I just want to make it quite clear before saying anything else, that I am a proponent of polygamy.  I have never had an issue with polygamy, nor do I at the present time.  If multiple people all love each other and wish to enter a marriage all together, who am I to say that they can't?  Now, I also have never had any desire to practice polygamy for myself.  I have never had any interest in having multiple spouses--male or female.  Being in a relationship with Conrad, I have no desire to be with anyone else, in a romantic way.  When I was with Karen I had no desire to be with anyone else either (aside from the fact that I wished it was with a man instead of a woman).  My brain is wired monogamously.  I only want one mate.  But, if someone else has a brain that's wired differently, I won't get in their way.  I won't stop them from being happy.

Now, that having been said, I think there are many problems with polygamy and many ways in which it is (or has been) used for ill purposes.  There are societies where polygamy is practiced and it seems to be the case that in many of these societies, the women are repressed.  I don't think that oppressing or repressing any individual or group of individuals is ever good.  But, misogyny is especially bad because it's so widely accepted (even today--in 2011) and tolerated.  I think that in a polygamous relationship (or in any relationship, for that matter) all parties should be equal.  It should not be just one man presiding over a bunch of women.  Sadly, this is all too often the case.  One man has a huge libido and wants to be with multiple women (this seems pretty common for men--in fact, biology suggests that men are wired to spread their seed as widely as possible).  That's okay, just as long as all of the women are okay with it as well.  If they all consent and aren't just being pressured into it by their community or by their religion, then I say go for it.  Or, if three guys and two girls all want to get together.  Whatever relationship they want to work out among themselves, that has no effect on me and I see no reason why I should support legislation that prevents it from happening.  If, however, it is found that polygamy cannot exist without all of the misogyny and repression that so often accompanies it, then in that case I would concede the point and oppose the measure simply in the interest of protecting women's rights.

Now, as I said, I've never had a problem with polygamy.  The entire time I was Mormon, I was ok with it.  I was nervous because sometimes in church people would say that at some future date, the practice of polygamy would be reinstated and I personally didn't want to live that law.  But, in a theoretical sense of other people practicing it, I was always cool with it and I still am.  I knew that Joseph Smith had multiple wives, and I knew that Brigham Young had multiple wives.  That wasn't a problem for me.

What was a problem for me was when I found out more about Joseph Smith's wives.  First of all, he kept everything secret.  The community--the church that he presided over--didn't even know that he had multiple wives (except, of course, for the women he married).  His own first wife Emma didn't even know that he married all these other women.  That's what really bothered me.  The fact that he deceived people, and blatantly lied when he claimed that he was monogamous.  He kept secrets from his first wife, and he made all of his other wives keep their marriage to him secret.  In fact, what led to his final arrest immediately before his murder at Carthage jail was due to events that followed after a publisher printed an article about all of his multiple wives.  Obviously it was something he had kept very secret and was quite angry when it became known.  This is deceit and dishonesty and it is completely inexcusable.  I think in any marriage, there shouldn't be any secrets (at least, not of this nature).  Each partner should be completely open and honest with the other(s).

Also, there's the matter that Joseph Smith taught obedience to the law (Article of Faith #12).  And yet he practiced polygamy, which was clearly illegal at the time.  This is called hypocrisy--the act of teaching one thing and doing something contradictory to that teaching.  He taught other people to obey the law, but then broke it himself.  He even encouraged other leaders of the church to break the law as well by taking multiple wives for themselves.

But the thing that bothers me the most about the polygamy practiced by Joseph Smith was that he married several girls who were under age.  He married three women who were 17, two who were 16, and two who were only 14 years old at the time of the marriage.  (Read more about his wives here.)  By today's standards, that would qualify him as a pedophile.  He wasn't satisfied with taking consenting adults as his wives, he also lusted after young girls and coerced them into marrying him.  This is completely disgusting.  I would never support anyone who wanted to take a young, impressionable person, and pressure them into marrying him.

So, in summary, do I care that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy?  Not one bit.  I never have and I never will.  If anyone else wants to practice polygamy, go for it.  But, it makes me mad that he lied about it, that he broke the law, and that he married minors--even girls as young as 14 years old.  I have a niece that's 13, she'll be 14 next July.  I would punch any man who tried to marry her while she was that young.  Even if someone that young is ready to be in a relationship, I really don't think they're capable of understanding the concept of marriage well enough to make that decision and to commit to someone for the rest of their life.  So much of what Joseph Smith did, in the name of being a mouthpiece for god, makes me sick to my stomach.  If there is a god, I'm sure that he is not happy with what that man did in this life.