Court Strikes Down Polygamy Law in Utah.

Court Strikes Down Polygamy Law in Utah. September 6, 2014

The courts have once against legislated by fiat. In this instance, a federal judge basically legalized polygamy in Utah.

For those who said that gay marriage would not lead to polygamy, your crow is ready and you can start eating it anytime you want.


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35 responses to “Court Strikes Down Polygamy Law in Utah.”

  1. We did have one good piece of news out of a Louisiana court this week which upheld traditional marriage, and most importantly, the right of the state to define marriage. I was very disappointed that I didn’t see one blogger on Patheos mention this ruling. Has everyone here given up on the ssm issue?

    The legal rationale used was very similar to what Justice Scalia said after Windsor. Windsor said the feds had to recognize marriages that were legal in the state the couple resided in, even if it was a ssm. He said Windsor was not however a mandate for states to adopt ssm although he knew that judges were going to misuse it that way. This ruling in LA gives me renewed hope (I never lost it) that when the full Court meets next session they will clarify that there is no federal ssm mandate (or right) and the states (meaning voters) may define marriage how they choose.

    All those federal court decisions may get overturned and the right to define marriage will go back to the states. Since the gay lobby has been focused on overturning bans through the courts rather than re-defining marriage through the voter process, they will likely find themselves back at square one in many states. And I believe that many people who have not wished to interfere with ssm, because they have drunk the kool-aid that said there was a ‘right’ to ssm, will no longer actively or even tacitly support it once they hear from the high court that no such right exists outside of what state voters have to say about it.

    • Possibly because it is a pretty embarrasing ruling with some REALLY stupid mistakes. For instance, the judge does not seem to understand what “heightened scrutiny” means in constitutional law, and he completely fails to read the 14th ammendment, claiming “[it] expressly condemns racial discrimination as a constitutional evil; in
      short, the Constitution specifically bans differentiation based on race.” That is patently untrue.

      If rulings like that are the best that anti-marriage legal minds can come up with, I will DEFINITELY take you up on a bet regarding the future status of gay marriage.

      • The US Constitution: 14th Amendment

        Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution – Rights Guaranteed Privileges and Immunities of Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection


        Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

        Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

        Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

        Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

        Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

        Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


        Hmm. Guess this is like the right to privacy supposedly guaranteed by the same amendment- NO mention of gay marriage or abortion or a right to privacy in the amendment at all.

      • If you take nothing else away from this, take away the fact that judicial opinions sometimes aren’t worth the paper they are written on. That cuts both ways in the ssm argument.

        The LA Supreme Court WILL be overturned on the case concerning mandatory reporting of info heard in confession. They have ruled that a trial court may decide what constitutes a confession and that it can force a priest, under penalty of law, to violate the rules of the Church. It is a laughable decision which has no chance of withstanding SCOTUS review. But that didn’t stop 3 judges of a state supreme court from ruling in clear violation of the Constitution. It just shows the level of politics the courts have sunk to.

  2. Apparently there have been some multi wife “marriages” in the states and no one has been arrested I guess. However I think the only legal recognized wife is the first one. Personally I wouldn’t want to be part of a harem but it must be OK with the ones who get added to the family through whatever “legal” game is played by the man when he “marries” them. Will see what happens. The founder(s) of the LDS church had a bunch of wives, and I’m not sure but the only reason that practice stopped was the US government making it illegal.

    • Of course, this was precisely the same situation for years with “gay marriage.” Plenty of gay couples had been “married” at the local unitarian church or what have you, but the marriage was not legally recognized. Nor were such couple arrested. Only then somehow “getting married” became a “right”…when in fact what became a “right” was to have a particular union recognized by the state. And once that happened, everyone else was forced to play along. The same thing will happen with polygamy. It must, or else the internal logic of “gay marriage” (or more precisely, the internal logic of the right of forcing people to recognize gay marriage) must collapse.

  3. What’s wrong with you bigots! Why can’t you let 4 or 5 people love each other? Why do you want to deny basic human rights to 10 or 12 people who want to marry each other?

    The Constitution says there is a fundamental right to marry. That means anyone can marry as many people as they want. I suppose you’re worried about the children. But all the studies that we just whipped up (with small sample sizes, done by polygamous scientists) say that children of polygamous marriages actually come out better than other children.

    It’s not about the children, because there are a tiny fraction of marriages that are not about children. Therefore marriage is about love. The kind of love between 6 gay men. Or 7 lesbian women. Or 3 men with 8 women.

    Love, love, love. What do you have against our love?

    You anti polygamy people are so cruel. Look – I just want to share my life with the 10 or so people I love the most in the world. And as I tire of each one of my wives in turn, I need to satisfy the deepest longing of man – to have at least one young wife all the time.

    Bigots. Always pushing your antiquated religion down our throats.

      • Neither the Constitution nor the Bible work that way. The Bible doesnt expressly say you only get one wife at a time, yet that is current Christian teaching, isn’t it?

        • psq87, I’ve answered this nonsense over and over again. If atheists are going to try to use the Bible to justify attacking the Bible (rather circular, that) they really need to learn more about what it says and stop quoting each other.

          Ok. I’ve explained this several times. Let’s see if someone else can answer it.

        • He was also condemned for his polygamy and apostasy. You need to read the whole thing to get the whole message. Polygamy and child sacrifice were corruptions from the surrounding culture of that time, similar to what Christians who have abortions or support gay marriage are doing today.

          God gave them many chances, but, as the Scriptures say elsewhere in another context, He eventually “gave them over to their evil.” At that point, He began to punish them, or rather He ceased protecting them and allowed them to take their punishment.

          The Bible is the history of Jesus’ family; warts and all. He was descended from every sort of sinner, as are we all. That was part of the message of the incarnation, that He was wholly human/wholly God.

          The Israelites were His family. Beginning with Abraham, when God told him he was blessed to be a blessing to all humankind. Abraham was a fallible man of his time, but he was also someone who heard God’s call and answered it. He believed God, and, the Scriptures tell us “God reckoned that to him as righteousness.”

          Solomon did some things right. But polygamy and raising up altars to other Gods in the “high places,” were not among them. You can’t use him to create a Biblical justification for polygamy.

          More to the point, Scripture established marriage as between one man and one woman from the very beginning — “a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.”

          Jesus affirms this teaching in perpetuity at the Wedding of Cana and later when He is asked about divorce. He specifically quotes this Scripture, affirms it and even extends it, saying that the Mosaic provisions for divorce were a previous accommodation to the sinful nature of the ancient Israelites who were, at the beginning, one-half reluctant step away from the larger culture.

          Christ the Lord specifically defined marriage as between one man and one woman. You can say you don’t agree with Him about that. But you can not accurately cite Scripture as your justification.

  4. I don’t see the connection with same sex marriage. Legal marriage to two other people at once is illegal in Utah and every other state, and that has not changed.

    Utah had a law on it books defining where an adult could live. No other states had or has such a law. This law was unconstitutional and was struck down. Utah’s laws are now in line with laws in every other state.

    Nothing in this ruling causes the government to recognize plural marriage. They are a lot of reasons to oppose polygamy, from mistreatment of women to rampant welfare fraud. This ruling does not legalize polygamy.

    • Here is the connection, in case you don’t see it. Marriage is fundamentally about protection of children. If this fundamental point is lost and marriage becomes reduced to a recognition of a romantic attachment, then you have things like same-sex marriage, where children are not possible. There is also no reason to prohibit polygamy in that case. Why should a romantic attachment be limited to just one person if a larger group all consent?

      • Question – Where does it say in the bible or US laws or elsewhere that marriage is about children?

        In the bible, and through most of human history, marriage was an economic arrangement, often with the bride essentially sold to the husband.

        Today at abcnews, there was a story about two elderly people – 90 and 91 years old – who have been devoted to each other for over 70 years. They have been together as a couple since the mid 1940s. Since they are both women, they married for the first time this weekend. How does their seventy year long relationship harm you?

          • This is a good discussion and I would love to go on about my views. But the fact is that when two people enter into civil marriage, they do so for reasons they think best. They do not care what I think about the history and purpose of marriage. Likewise, they do not base their marriage on any spiritual beliefs other than their own.

            Each church can define the conditions of marriage for their community. But civil marriage is not limited by various opinions on the purpose for marriage.

            (Note-I abandoned a different response. If an unfinished one shows up,ignore it.)

            • I cannot accept the view that marriage is whatever people want it to be. That conceals and trivializes the legitimate, vital purpose of marriage, and, as FW Ken said, THAT is damaging to the common good.

              If they wanted to call it a civil union, I wouldn’t fight it nearly as strongly, and if a civil union was defined as any two people that depend on each other for any reason, I probably wouldn’t fight it at all.

              • I respect your opinion, but I do not agree that the definition of the “common good” you provide is the only definition, or the correct one. If two people are committed to each other for life in a marriage-like relationship, I believe that it is in the common good for that marriage to be legally recognized. So clearly, we disagree.

                I also do not believe that one faith community can be allowed to dictate the actions of others. You may believe that a certain viewpoint or action trivializes marriage or harms the public, but your church does not own marriage in a secular society. The opinion of one church does not trump other churches, other religious bodies or secular belief.

                It might be helpful to distinguish between the sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the catholic church, and the secular arrangement called marriage. The catholic church can and should have full control over catholic sacraments. However, the catholic church cannot define secular marriage.

        • Just because there may have been economic considerations in marriage doesn’t mean that marriage was an economic arrangement at its heart. It is generally agreed by sociologists that marriage arose in almost every culture because of the obvious fact that children are much healthier (and thus, at a societal level the future of the society is much healthier) when they are cared for by both their mother and father in a stable environment.

          Divorce and SSM are both strikes at the heart of marriage. Divorce was honestly the worst blow, but SSM completes the destruction of marriage.

  5. You overlooked one trivial detail – that a person still can only be married to one. person. All this ruling did was align the laws in Utah with the laws in every other state. And the polygamists are not exactly running rampant in Georgia or Oregon.

    • Well, some parts of Oregon….liberal Portland and Eugene is another story. But then again, same with gay marriage. Since the ban was overturned, the Willamette Valley has gained several gay marriage couples. Not so in the rest of the state, where sanity still rules.

      • But the other 49 states have not legalized polygamy. This ruling brings Utah in line with all other states. This ruling does not legalize polygamy.

  6. It is still illegal to get a marriage license with three or more people. What happened was the law criminalizing LIVING TOGETHER was struck down. There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to marry any and all consenting adults. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality “just for some” is not equality. Let’s stand up for EVERY ADULT’S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!

    • The Catholic Church is and has always been on the “right side of history”. As a matter of fact, She writes history. Marriage is between one man and one woman, only.

  7. All these things must happen. We are moving in the direction to the end of the age. Its all apart of the great Apostasy, the bible mentioned, before the coming of Christ.

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