The LDS Church and Constitutional Amendments
A few days following Smoot's election in 1903, the Deseret News reported the following: "Congressman Jenkins of Wisconsin today introduce[d] the following amendment to the Constitution of the United States. 'No person shall willfully and knowingly contract a second marriage while the first marriage is still subsisting and undissolved. Any person who shall willfully and knowingly contract a second marriage shall never hereafter hold, occupy or enjoy any office of honor or profit under the United States.'" (Deseret News, Jan. 31, 1903). . . Attempts to drum up support for this amendment occurred periodically between the years 1903 and 1906.
Smoot countered by recommending a national marriage law:
I have assured the Senators that I will support any measure, no matter how strict or what penalties it imposes, [with] provisions for the punishment of fornication, adultery, incest, unlawful cohabitation, and kindred offences. I hardly think that we need worry much about this constitutional amendment proposition. (Reed Smoot to Joseph F. Smith, April 9, 1904.)
President Joseph F. Smith responded,
"I say let the national solons amend the Constitution, to punish and insult and degrade this little handful of men who are rapidly passing away, and when they shall see the magnitude of their acts compared with the insignificance of the cause, they and their historians will laugh at their folly, and write them down asses in the broadest sense." (Joseph F. Smith to Reed Smoot, April 9, 1904.)
It goes without saying that the outcome of this past week's debate in the Senate adds an ironic twist to the history of marriage amendments in the United States. Especially considering President Smith's words.