Polygamy, Publicity, and Locality: The Place of the Public in Marriage Practice
Allison Anna Tait
Yale University - Yale Law School
August 14, 2011
Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2011, p. 171, 2011
A detailed reading of the Mormon plural marriage case of Holm v. Utah uncovers the significant role that visual indicators play in modern marriage law and generates a set of initial questions about the relationship between marriage practice and public performance. Traditional publicity requirements, such as endowment at the church door, wedding banns, and wedding announcements, all confirm the historical role and importance of publicity in marriage regulation and wedding ritual. Publicity requirements serve multiple purposes – evidentiary, status-granting, accountability enabling – and also highlight the importance of community, audience and locality to marriage status. The local is particularly important because ceremonies are site-specific, marriage law is state-bound, and status endowment comes from the social network in which a couple's daily lives are embedded. Calls for new legislation supporting forms of virtual marriage, therefore, are unlikely to produce the desired social recognition if those proposals ignore the fact that local audiences are important status-granting communities.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: polygamy, marriage law, legal history, publicityAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 3, 2011 ; Last revised: May 6, 2012
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