ABOVE: Abraham Hamilton, general counsel and public policy analyst for the American Family Association appeared on the Thursday afternoon edition of CBN's Newswatch to talk about his organization's petition to protest the HGTV episode and how prevalent "polyamory" relationships are becoming in the media today. Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel. For a programming guide, click here.
The Utah Senate has unanimously passed a measure that decriminalizes polygamy in a move that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts once warned would happen.
Polygamy has historically involved a relationship between one man and multiple women, but it can also include one woman with multiple men.
The Utah bill that passed this week would make polygamy between consenting adults in the Beehive State an infraction, instead of a felony, lessening the penalty which is currently up to five years in prison.
Cases where such an arrangement occurs due to threat, coercion, or false pretenses would remain as a third-degree felony.
Supporters of the legislation argue it will allow people living in communities that practice plural marriage to report abuse. However, former members of polygamous groups have spoken against the bill, saying it would do little to help children caught in underage marriages.
A majority of people in Utah belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons, which had a history of polygamy but has banned the practice since 1890. But roughly 30,000 people are currently believed to be living in polygamous communities in the state.
Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson sponsored the bill which now goes to the Utah House.
Chief Justice Roberts' Warned of Polygamy
As LGBTQ activists have pushed for new rights and government approval of their lifestyles, pro-family groups have warned it's a slippery slope with no end in sight.
In fact, when he dissented in Obergefell v. Hodges – the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage – Chief Justice Roberts predicted that allowing gay marriage would open a door that could eventually lead to the legalization of polygamy.
"Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective 'two' in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not," Roberts wrote. "Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world."
"If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise 'suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,' antem ... why wouldn't the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children?" he asked.
Polygamy Hits Mainstream HGTV
Over the years, the practice of polygamy has been portrayed in several films and television series. Now the non-profit American Family Association (AFA) is questioning a move by the HGTV network to feature a "throuple" couple – one man and two women – as normal.
On its Feb. 12 episode of "House Hunters," the network featured the "throuple", a polyamorous threesome, looking for a home in Colorado.
"The network is the same that famously canned the show 'Flip It Forward,' hosted by twins David and Jason Benham because the two Christians had taken a public stand in 2014 against same-sex marriage," said AFA President Tim Wildmon.
As CBN News reported, the episode, titled "Three's Not a Crowd in Colorado Springs," celebrated a married couple who had added a second woman to the relationship. The original man-woman couple, who have two children, held a "commitment ceremony" with the second woman in Aruba. Both women say they're bisexual.
HGTV said in a statement to USA Today, "We feature all homebuyers and living choices."
Peter Sprigg, a senior research fellow at Family Research Council, told CBN News, "LGBT activists and their allies in the entertainment industry are deliberately pushing the envelope by depicting ever more deviant behavior (like polyamory) and using ever more unexpected vehicles (like superhero movies). These are deliberate efforts to radically change society, not reflect it. For example, according to the Gallup Poll, only 18% of Americans consider polygamy to be morally acceptable. Hollywood mythology notwithstanding, the committed life-long marriage of one man and one woman remains the healthiest context for sexual relations and the optimal context for child-rearing."
AFA has started a petition to HGTV President Jane Latman, asking her to stop undermining God's design for marriage as between one man and one woman. The organization is asking concerned Americans to let Latman know that moving away from traditional marriage and family values-centered programming will drive viewers away. To date, more than 23,000 people have signed the petition.