December 16th, 2013
01:10 PM ET
8 months ago

Utah polygamy ruling criticized

(CNN) – Some social conservatives are blasting Utah's ruling striking down part of that state's law banning polygamy.

The suit was brought by the stars of the television reality series "Sister Wives," and a federal judge's ruling Friday throws out the law's section prohibiting "cohabitation," saying it violates constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.


Judge strikes down part of Utah polygamy law in 'Sister Wives' case

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum - who a decade ago came under fire for comments indicating polygamy would become legal if courts banned anti-sodomy laws - responded to the ruling over the weekend.

"Sometimes I hate it when what I predict comes true," the former U.S. senator tweeted Sunday.

The Family Research Council, led by prominent social conservative Tony Perkins, also weighed the Utah statute, warning of "serious consequences of redefining marriage."

"Throughout history, marriage has been future-oriented, focused on the next generation and the best interests of children. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad," Perkins said Monday.

"However, redefining marriage to fulfill the desires of same-sex couples or polygamists only moves society away from this vital public interest and creates social chaos."

In striking down the section of the law Friday, Judge Clark Waddoups used a 2003 Supreme Court landmark gay rights case Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled that anti sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

During that Supreme Court ruling a decade ago, Santorum told the Associated Press that bans on sodomy would open the doors to a "right to polygamy" and other sexual acts.

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum said in 2003.

But Waddoups' ruling keeps in place the ban on bigamy "in the literal sense - the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses for the purpose of entering into more than one purportedly legal marriage."

Some religious groups also criticized the ruling.

"This is what happens when marriage becomes about the emotional and sexual wants of adults, divorced from the needs of children for a mother and a father committed to each other for life," said Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Polygamy was outlawed in this country because it was demonstrated, again and again, to hurt women and children. Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing."

CNN's Bill Mears and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. No Magic Underpants

    Polyg marriage okay but the gay is not?

    December 16, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Howard

    These are the people who are members of a worldwide pedophile organization who are complaining, go figure.

    December 16, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. kariorit

    If adults want to enter into a committed relationship, it's nobody's business. Period. We have child abuse laws to protect against pedophilia ever being okay, and animals cannot give consent. Quit trying to make everyone believe like you do.

    December 16, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. Roger

    Republicans don't care about protecting American citizens, they only care about controlling them.

    December 16, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. Capone

    To Rick Santorum: I don't care what you think. Can you prove that your "god" exists? Until you can, what you say your "god" wants is irrelevant. In regards to your 2003 comments – Bigamy is illegal and should be because anyone entering into a marriage has the right to know if they are the only spouse. Incest should be illegal because there are actual medical reasons for it. Although adultery is not illegal, it usually involved one spouse having an extramarital affair without the other spouse being aware of it. That makes it wrong. Bottom line – your philosophical and/or religious ideology is not sufficient reason to make anything illegal.

    To Tony Perkins: And at what time were you given the authority to define marriage for everyone else? I do not remember consenting to that. What marriage means to you may not be what it means to someone else. You have absolutely no right to force your beliefs on anyone.

    To Russell Moore: You, like Perkins and Santorum, keep talking about children when it comes to marriage. You all are completely ignoring the fact that not all marriages involve children. There is no requirement for anyone wanting to get married to have children. Likewise, there is no requirement that anyone wanting children to get married. Your argument is not only nonsensical, it is irrelevant.

    December 16, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. WhatIsTheDifference

    What is the difference between legalizing gay marriage and polygamy? If a gay marriage is allowed why not polygamy?

    December 16, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. stevebrinkhoff

    How many wives did Soloman and King David have?

    December 16, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Stan

    If the Family Research Council is against it, it can't be all bad...

    December 16, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. VEW2012

    This is ridicules, this was stopped once by the federal government and it is time to come down on it again. All this is is another welfare tax evasion fraud in the making. That is exactly the way it worked the last time. Talk about ignorant women.

    December 16, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. Susan StoHelit

    People are being mislead by this article, if they accept Santorum as accurate.

    In point of fact, the court did nothing to make polygamy legal. They just struck down laws against cohabitation. NOT laws against bigamy. Nothing is making plural marriages legal here. But it should be obvious to anyone that laws preventing you from living with who you choose are illegal.

    December 16, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. ShawnDH

    Somebody needs to tell that goofball fanatic Tony Perkins that the idea of marriage between one man and one woman based on love is only like 100 years old, if that.

    December 16, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. justin

    "Marriage" is unchanged by this ruling... You still cannot be legally "married" to more than one living person at a time. The part of the law that got struck down was the part that made it illegal to be married to one woman will living with and engaging in adult relations with other women. Think Hugh Heffner.... No one has dragged him out of the mansion in handcuffs yet....

    December 16, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. ol cranky

    For a guy who claims to not want words redefined, Rick Santorum was very quick to complain about this ruling which restores the correct and "traditional" definition of polygamy to the law and still bans polygamy without banning cohabitation outside of marriage

    December 16, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. don in albuquerque

    As a country don't we really have bigger fish to fry?

    December 16, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. joe

    Who cares who marries whom? If they are adults and consent then so be it. It's not harming anyone except to the extent that it gives heartburn to the right wing bible thumpers. And that's a good thing.

    December 16, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. Bob

    No surprise here, the expansion of marriage to include gays opened the door for the polygamists to make the same claims. The singles will be pounding at the door next, claiming discrimination that they do not get the benefits of marriage. Then the people who want to marry 12-13 year old girls. I'm sure there are a lot of people who want to marry their dog or cat. In 10 years the word "married" will be meaningless.

    December 16, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Margaret

    There isn't any definition of marriage any more. To all of you who approved of gay marriage and don't support this....WAKE UP! Can you not see what's right in front of your nose? Yesterday gay marriage, today plural marriage....what's going to be next? And you know this has just begun.

    December 16, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Steffan

    Rick, you are an idiot. There is absolutely no correlation between sodomy and polygamy.

    December 16, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. Fran Justice

    Judge Waddoups is definitely biased for Mormons, which includes their belief in the practice of polygamy in the after-life.

    He was every lenient on Mormons from Southeastern Utah who robbed ancient Indian graves. He is very soft on blue collar Mormon criminals. Just look at his record.

    December 16, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. Welfare Scheme

    The FACTS are one man cannot support dozens of children financially. The kids get qualified for taxpayers handouts based on "need". FINE – you want to f up your kids and demand your rights – NO MORE WELFARE. Simple.

    It is also the VERY rich base of terrorist's pool of gullible, undereducated people with no future (dad's typically drive teen sons from the home to fend for themselves) who end up the grist in the terror mill. Tell an unloved child allah finds the important and would like nothing better than for them to kill other people so they get to go to "heaven".

    Polygomy has a long history of ill effects, its not like this is news. Uneducated women are typically forced into marriages with disgusting old geezers. Utah has a LOT in common with the third world slums who force their uneducated daughters to do the same. Primary reason is so the dad does not have to work to put the food in her mouth.

    BAD lifestyle for kids. BAD lifestyle for women. EGOTISTICAL lifestyle for men. BAD lifestyle for those who are on the hook to pay for the excess kids multiple uneducated women produce.

    December 16, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Jon

    Just wanted to clarify – the folks off of Sister Wives are not Mormons, or in other words, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If they were, they would be excommunicated. They belong to some kind of branch-off.

    December 16, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. Grahame Rhodes

    Ah Let them have their fun. It's all about money and security anyway. If the husband is too dumb to realize that he's just being used as a source of income then let him. Be an interesting divorce proceeding though if he wants to divorce them all at once.

    December 16, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. svann

    In defense of monogamous co-habitation!

    December 16, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. Vince

    Who cares? It's no one's business what goes on in other people's relationships. People should worry about what goes on in their own home...not their neighbors.

    December 16, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. Matthew

    NO conservative groups should oppose this ruling. I as a deep conservative applaud the ruling, and feel that is is a hundred years too late.

    December 16, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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