Questions About Polygamy

RECEIVED Fri., Sept. 1, 2006

Dear Editor,
    On following the ongoing story of the FLDS ["Feds Nab 'Prophet,'" News, Sept. 1], I am curious as to how the large families are being supported by one man. Are the families registering for welfare payments, and how would this be legal in the different states? Also, I am curious about the legal minimum marriage age in the different states: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, etc. Or is this side-stepped by having the additional wives underage, and therefore not counted as legal wives?
    I traveled in St. George, Utah, and the area is very protected by the terrain, but why is this systemized abuse allowed? What education are the children given, and isn't it scrutinized by the state authorities? I am puzzled!
Madonna Wayne
   [Jordan Smith replies: Additional wives, by definition, are not counted, since polygamy is illegal. As such, the husbands don't technically support all their wives. In fact, many plural wives are encouraged to apply for welfare programs in order to support the families – to the state they look like unmarried single parents, living well below the poverty line. Many of these questions are, I think, answered in our feature "Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29, 2005.]
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