The stars of Sister Wives essentially won decriminalization for polygamy in Utah last week—even as TLC released another reality show, Breaking the Faith, that focused on the dark side of the practice. "Whether or not a white-washed, clean-cut version of plural marriage could in theory legally exist, in practice it does not," writes Mark Goldfeder at CNN. Studies show that it tends to create abusive relationships. That means states like Utah are saddled with "an unregulated, dangerous, and harmful situation, where the strong prey upon the weak."
But Goldfeder isn't advocating banning polygamy, an option the Supreme Court, "perhaps unwittingly" took off the table by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. No, he thinks we should just legalize it. "Decriminalizing polygamy would only make abuses even harder to catch," he argues, but "recognition would enable law enforcement to crack down on abuse." Suddenly a town clerk could block a union that looked coercive or inappropriate. In the light of day, we could build the "clean-cut version of American polygamy" that supporters imagine. Click for the full column.