By Erin Johnson
OGDEN – Polygamy couldn”t be legalized because it hurts families, said attorney David Leavitt at a Weber State University-sponsorted forum Thursday.
“By and large it is a practice that is so damaging that it is something that ought not be a religious freedom,” said David Leavitt, the prosecuting attorney in the Tom Green.
Before prosecuting Green – who was convicted on four counts of biamy in a highly publicized trial this past summer – Leavitt helped defend Green”s father-in-law.
Leavitt believed polygamy should be a protected freedom until he saw the damage being done to children and women in Green”s and other”s families.
“The majority are people who are abused, who are enslaved, who are given no chance whatsoever,” he said. “Polygamy strips one of autonomy. I prosecuted Tom Green because he was harming society.”
Former plural wife, Victoria Prunty agreed.
“They believe they are being revealed by God to do these horrendous acts,” she said. “But the laws of the country take precedent over faith.”
But Sydney Anderson, director of the Women”s Religious Liberty Union, disagreed however, saying polygamy should not be regulated by the government, but that it is rather a pure religious tenet that anyone should have the right to practice.
“Do I ask you to believe in my religion and my beliefs of what Christianity entails? No. Do I except the same freedom from you? Absolutely. Will I fight for it? To the death,” Anderson said.
Former defending attorney in the Green trial Bill Morrison also spoke in support of polygamy and said the tendency to throw away civil rights by banning polygamy is a violation of the first amendment. Morrison urged the audience to separate the religion from the persecution.
“We need to allow people the freedom to do what they want without fear,” he said.
Anderson said this fear of many plural wives stems from the criminalizing of polygamists.