1991 Utah L. Rev. 881 (1991)
Wait 'Til Your Mothers Get Home: Assessing the Rights of Polygamists as Custodial and Adoptive Parents

handle is hein.journals/utahlr1991 and id is 889 raw text is: \
WArr TIL YouR MOTHERS GET HOME: ASSESSING
THE RIGHTS OF POLYGAMISTS AS CUSTODIAL
AND ADOpiV PARENTS
We do not realize how large a part of our law is
open to reconsideration upon a slight change in the
habit of the public mind.
O.W. Holmes,
I. INTRODUCTION
A significant portion of Utah's early history involves the
Church    of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day          Saints2 and its early
practice of polygamy,3 which was a major doctrinal tenet of the
Church from 1843 until 1890. A century later, Utah polygamists
in various religious groups4 continue to cling to their lifestyle in
1. The Path of the Law, 10 HARV. L. REV. 457, 466 (1897).
2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is more commonly known as the
Mormon Church. This Comment uses the term Mormon for the sake of familiarity and
brevity.
The Mormon Church was organized in April, 1830, by Joseph Smith. See 1 J.
SMITH, HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS 2 (2d ed.
1949). Smith was born in rural Vermont in 1805. See id. In 1831, Smith left New York
in the first of a series of westward moves. See iCL at 140.46. In 1844, Smith and his
brother Hyrum were assassinated by a mob in Carthage, Illinois. See 7 J. SMITH, supra,
at 102-06. Brigham Young succeeded Smith as president of the Church, see id. at 294,
and led the Mormon pioneers across the Great Plains to Utah.
The belief that God communicates with contemporary prophets is a basic tenet of
Mormon doctrine. Two of the Church's Thirteen Articles of Faith state: We believe in the
gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc. 4
J. SMITH, supra, at 541; and We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now
reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things
pertaining to the kingdom of God. Id.
3. The system of plural marriage practiced within the Mormon Church during the
19th century, with only men taking plural spouses, is properly called polygyny. Tech-
nically, polygamy is defined as a practice where either sex marries plurally. See Nedrow,
Polygamy and the Right to Marry: New Life for an Old Lifestyle, 11 MEM. ST. U.L. REV.
303, 303 n.1 (1981); WEBSTER'S THIRD NEW -INTERNATIONAL DIcTIONARY 1758 (1976).
This Comment, however, uses the term polygamy.
4. There ar- several churches in Utah and the surrounding states whose doctrines
are loosely based on those of the orthodox Mormon Church, with the exception of
polygamy. The two largest of these churches claim roughly 11,000 followers collectively.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Kingdom of God, more
commonly known as the Fundamentalist Church, claims 7300 members in the United
States and Canada. Telephone interview with Rulon T. Jeffs, President, Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Kingdom of God (July 4, 1991) [hereinafter Jeffs
Interview]. Of that number, approximately 6000 live in Utah, with 2500 located in Salt

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