The revolution in the institution of marriage continues, as the legalization of polygamy is now being taken up by the courts.
Tomorrow [July 13] in Salt Lake City, legal scholar and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley will file suit to challenge Utah statutes criminalizing cohabitation and bigamy. The plaintiffs in the suit? Kody Brown and his four wives, stars of the reality show Sister Wives.
Turley is expected to argue for the decriminalization of polygamy by citing Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 US Supreme Court decision that decriminalized sodomy on the grounds that states should not interfere with the intimate behavior of consenting adults. The ultimate aim of the suit? Overturning the infamous Reynolds decision of 1878 which decried polygamy as a “despotic” “Oriental” practice unsuitable for American society.
I suppose the case for polygamy is stronger than the case for gay marriage, since this is an established practice in many cultures and in many points in history. I suspect the issue may become the religious rights of Muslims, not to mention certain Mormon groups. But if gay marriage is legalized, how can polygamy not be legalized? Or, from a more conservative angle, if marriage is a cultural and religious institution (as opponents of gay marriage argue), how can the state not allow it?