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. here and back again

    The Bible is only cited if it supports the belief that complainers use to force their views on others. If the Bible doesn't support their view...then it is wrong. So...which is it? Is the Bible the "word of God" or not? Seems to me you can't pick and choose.

    December 16, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What is the difference between what this guy is doing and an inner city guy that impregnates 15 women who then go on welfare and get food stamps?
    ------------------------------------------------- I wasn't aware that out of wedlock impregnation occurred only in inner cities.
    Men impregnating women in rural and depressed areas, and consigning them to the welfare and food stamp rolls have a lot of explaining to do.

    December 16, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. buck cameron

    As the Mormons have always said "Marriage is a sacred union between one man and some women."

    December 16, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  4. buck cameron

    Rick hates it when he's right. We hate it when he's far-right.

    December 16, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. LetsHope

    "Critics slam Utah polygamy ruling"

    Critics would generally not praise a ruling against they disagreed with...

    December 16, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. lean6

    So...who hasn't Googled the meaning of the word "Santorum" yet?

    As long as government's focus is on protecting children from predators like Warren Jeffs, and as long as polygamy doesn't afford these people any kind of tax shelters or other unfair economic benefits per marriage at the expense of other taxpayers, why does anybody care? There is not a doubt in my mind that the government only cares because of financial reasons. Somehow, the government is losing money.

    December 16, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. bob

    Social conservatives are a cancer on society.

    December 16, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Andrew

    I don't care who or how many you "do it to" as long as your only get to be married to one at a time. Otherwise, there will be total weirdo cults where some guy marries two hundred women at once, and then who knows what comes from that crap. One thing will: divorce courts with two-hundred wives at once funded by angry taxpayers like me.

    December 16, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. Rheena

    If anyone is losing sleep over the re-definition of marriage, just wait to see what's coming! The entire paradigm in which we live is re-configuring.

    December 16, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Another Voice

    When polygamy was banned, women and children were still considered chattel. If the reason was that it hurt women and children, does that still apply if women are now considered actual adults instead of chattel, and the relationship is only acceptable to consensting adults?

    Obviously the women that brought this lawsuit didn't consider their relationship unhealthy for them. Is that arrangement good for everyone? No. But that doesn't mean it is bad for everyone.

    December 16, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Dan

    I don't see a problem here. Whatever the "wives" chose to call themselves, the state needs to recognize only one marriage. If the rest chose to cohabitate, that's their choice. The bible thumping crybabies who are wringing their hands over this decision conveniently ignore the fact that the so called word of god (bible) approves of polygamy!

    December 16, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. Wheredoesitend

    So a person should be allowed to do ANYTHING in their home they want to do? So a person should be able to marry their favorite lamp or their dog if they so choose? Laws should not be changed to accommodate or encourage moral decay. Who am I to decide what is moral? I am not qualified to decide morals for society. However, the existing moral laws have helped make this the best country in the world. I know it doesn't seem that way sometimes, but it is.

    December 16, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. xplain_plz

    The judges ruling did not address polygamy directly. He simply said that if you can be married and cohabit with others if you chose. My wife and I have a closed marriage because that is what we wanted. Some people have open marriages because that is what they want. Other people simply cheat because that is what they want. If you think anything outside of traditional marriage is a sin, then that is between you and whatever god/goddess you believe in. It's none of the government's business regardless of which marriage model you choose.

    December 16, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  14. Amber

    It seems people always have a problem when someone's beliefs don't mesh with their own. Why can't we just let people be happy? If it isn't bothering you or affecting your life, why do you let it upset you so? Not everyone agrees with you and not everyone is going to do the same thing, believe the same as you. Grow up and realize that difference is what makes us all so interesting.

    December 16, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  15. dylan

    " throws out the law's section prohibiting "cohabitation," All this ruling did was stop the government from telling people who they can and can't live with. Pologamy is still Illegal. This article only proves how dumbed down the media and the extreme right have become.

    December 16, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  16. seriously

    Since when is marriage only about children's interests and perpetuating the species? If that's the case then anyone over the age of reproduction or anyone who is found to be infertal shouldn't be able to be married. Do I agree with polygamy? No. Do I think people have the right to do what they want when it's not hurting anyone? Yes.

    December 16, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. BradKT

    The conservatives were right that once the rationale for not recognizing gay marriage was struck down by the coiurts, there would be no rationale for upholding the ban on polygamous marriage either. Justice Scalia said so explcitly.

    December 16, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Federal Judge

    What lousy reporting! It was a FEDERAL judge that ruled against an existing Utah law.

    December 16, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  19. krabz

    Here in New York, the penalty for bigamy is having two wives.

    December 16, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  20. Dan

    What happened to the idea of two consenting adults?

    December 16, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    ""Throughout history, marriage has been future-oriented, focused on the next generation and the best interests of children.'

    Ummm, sure. That's why the King of France would marry off his daughter to the Prince of Wherever, because he was concerned about the future, firmly believing that the marriage would prevent a future war."

    Not to mention the fact that it was all so very very incestuous in order to keep the ruling bloodlines "pure." If the concern were the children, then clearly, that would have been the furthest behavior from anyone's minds given the generally bitter genetic fruit that incest bears. Of course, in light of all that, one need not wonder overly long as to why King Such-and-such acted like a semi-sentient turnip, chopped all sorts of heads off and started wars over nothing.

    December 16, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Idiots... "COHABITATION" is not marriage. You can, and should be able to, live with whomever you like. This ruling has nothing to do with marriage or polygamy, it concerns a law that specified who you can live with.

    Mind your own business."

    Seriously, what is this Three's Company? Uh oh, the Ayatollah Santorum, a/k/a Mr. Furley, is going to come down and find you all living together and all hell's gonna break loose....quick, call Larry and see if he can help out with a masterful plan to hide it all....

    December 16, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. NameCharles Hawkins

    Typical conservative response. We are for government out of your life, unless it conflicts with my religious beliefs.

    December 16, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  24. CauseANDEffect

    Why would polygamy be "wrong" if gay marriage is "not wrong"? Why would it be wrong for a father to marry his adult son? And vice versa for mother and adult daughter. In fact, who's to say what is wrong in this Darwinian world we live in? It's survival of the fittest. So, murder should not be wrong either. That's what happens in a Godless society.

    December 16, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  25. ConservativeSmasher

    This is only the first step on the road to marriage equality for polygamists.

    What polygamist groups have to do now is file a federal lawsuit against the state of Utah for violating their civil right to marriage.

    December 16, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
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