I am pleased that Sen. Deidre Henderson (R-Spanish Fork) plans to introduce a bill in the 2020 legislature to de-criminalize polygamy or plural marriage.

The time has come. Although I don’t practice it, my great-grandfather did, and happy children and relatively stable families were produced by such unions and there were no underage brides, no abuse and no fraud involved.

Make no mistake, I deplore old men preying on underage girls. I also deplore any forced coercion. However, for those Utahns who get sanctimonious and say they are only preserving “family values” of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’, I would direct those same persons to read the Daily Herald article: “More people were diagnosed with chlamydia than the flu last year in Utah County,” published Sept. 8.

It is obvious that plenty of LDS and non-LDS people are bed-hopping and carrying diseases who are unaware until the symptoms get so terrible, they cannot be ignored. Plus, these supposedly “righteous” monogamists are spreading those diseases to far more sexual partners than most polygamous marriages are composed of. At least in plural marriage, a man might have perhaps two to five wives; and monitors their health with no outside influx of disease if faithful. The key phrase: if faithful.

Whereas with the bed-hopping monogamists, the number of infected partners with STDs might reach dozens of people. The same article even noted that “routine STD testing — including anal swabs for those who have anal sex — is recommended every six months.”

STDs know no religion and attack all demographics. Let’s focus on a real health issue instead of quibbling over marriage-labels. A genuine health-epidemic is present in Utah County and elsewhere in the state.

While legalization of plural marriage can’t cure disease, it can provide a legal outlet for sexual relations which might have healthier outcomes inherent in it, as compared to turning a blind eye to monogamous people leading secret-lives and infecting potentially many more unknowing people.

I’d prefer people knowing how many partners their bedmate is sleeping with, for health reasons, if nothing else. The days are over when residents of Utah County claim to act like Puritans. The STD rates exceeding flu-rates show that plenty of people in the county are promiscuous hypocrites. Curbing disease rather than preaching what constitutes holy matrimony makes more sense.

Lawmakers need to quit pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes and focus on eliminating diseases between the bedsheets. I hope the legislature passes Henderson’s bill. The time has come to responsibly control plural marriage.

It is obvious people are having lots of sexual intercourse. It’s time for society and even the LDS Church to soften penalties on plural marriage. It isn’t the “big sin” people conjure up. Again, I’m not supporting perverts preying on underage girls nor supporting abuse or welfare fraud. However, the pandemic of STDs among preachy monogamists is a far greater threat to society. Let’s focus on real priorities and public safety issues, not voyeurism.

James Marples is a Provo resident.