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Distributed for Brandeis University Press

Legalizing Plural Marriage

The Next Frontier in Family Law

Polygamous marriages are currently recognized in nearly fifty countries worldwide. Although polygamy is technically illegal in the United States, it is practiced by members of some religious communities and a growing number of other “poly” groups. In the radically changing and increasingly multicultural world in which we live, the time has come to define polygamous marriage and address its legal feasibilities. Although Mark Goldfeder does not argue the right or wrong of plural marriage, he maintains that polygamy is the next step—after same-sex marriage—in the development of U.S. family law. Providing a road map to show how such legalization could be handled, he explores the legislative and administrative arguments which demonstrate that plural marriage is not as farfetched—or as far off—as we might think. Goldfeder argues not only that polygamy is in keeping with the legislative values and freedoms of the United States, but also that it would not be difficult to manage or administrate within our current legal system. His legal analysis is enriched throughout with examples of plural marriage in diverse cultural and historical contexts. Tackling the issue of polygamy in the United States from a legal perspective, this book will engage anyone interested in constitutional law, family law, or criminal law, along with sociologists and those who study gender and culture in modern times.

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“The United States is ‘in the midst of a family law revolution.’ Mark Goldfeder’s book claims that, in its wake, Americans must consider legalizing plural marriage alongside other forms of polyamorous family structure. This book will interest readers interested in the politics of marriage in the United States. Goldfeder’s argument is sophisticated but accessible.”

Nova Religio

Table of Contents

Foreword by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe • Introduction: Revisiting Polygamy • What Is Marriage? Privileging Function over Form • Unbundling Marriage • The Realities of Monogamy and the Push for Plural Marriage • Children of Plural Marriages: A First Empirical Look • Legalizing Plural Marriage • Plural Marriage, Revisited • Table of Statutes • Table of Cases • Notes • Bibliography • Index

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