December 16th, 2013
01:10 PM ET
4 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. JonathanL

    Pass all the laws you want. Maybe we could just legalize it for tax purposes 'cause like with guns and marijuana, they will find a way to do it anyway. There is always a subset of sub human humans who are ornery and will live without moral guidelines whether we let them or not. For example a sin tax. Add a 15% income tax rate for each additional wife or husband. Allow a tax credit for the first child and penalize them for each additional one. I mean who needs more people? There are way too many of them. We now cover the earth like a carpet, smothering nature. Anyway, the states get the money instead of the crooks. All the sinners will be crying wah wah wah and those of us who are at least half decent, and are normal, will pay less taxes. I know this would be OK with the normal people, but then the majority, assuming most people including politicians are not normal, will vote it down.

    December 16, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  2. Thomas

    What if you wanted to start your own religion , say the church of Later Day Seek's , and you wanted to have a two husbands and six wife's . So that would be a total of nine in the family ,until you procreated to expand and spread the prophecy.

    December 16, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  3. Robert

    "Polygamy was outlawed in this country because it was demonstrated, again and again, to hurt women and children."
    This is an outright lie. It was banned out of bigotry against and religious persecution of the 19th Century Mormons. The harms to women and children in modern-polygamy occur precisely because polygamy is illegal and thus must be hidden. If they could live openly, there would be no more problems than in monogamous families. In fact, their cooperative parenting might lead to fewer problems.

    December 16, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. sly

    Who cares what any conservatives think? They are all mean-spirited and selfish. That's why we haven't seen a single good idea from a conservative in government for the past 10 years. Name 1 idea that conservatives have put into law. Name just one! Nope – nothing. Empty brains lead to empty laws.

    December 16, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. srcactus

    Judge shopping has become quite the profession. Hire a lawyer to find a sympathetic judge for a fee. Much better than uniform justice, right?

    December 16, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  6. Susan StoHelit

    By the way – slippery slope is a logical FALLACY – not a rule.

    It's a strawman, a game to play, to pretend like when you take a step, you'll be dragged unwilling all the way in that direction. No such thing. We choose each step we take – if you like the direction, agree with it, you take another step that way. If you don't, you walk back.

    Yeah, if you don't like it, and everyone else does, then you won't like the direction the majority chose – but they still chose it – no one "slipped".

    December 16, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  7. gahh

    A few years ago, another guy from Utah did the same thing, only he was sent to jail. People were really mad when they found out, the 28 or 30 kids he was responsible for, were getting food stamps, free clothing, Medicaid, all this while this ole boy took turns on which woman, he wanted every night. Disgusting as hell, to have all these kids and make the taxpayers pay for their care.

    December 16, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. ItsAMirage

    I thought Conservatives always expressed their strong support for privacy at home (drones anyone?) yet jump immediately to trample other people's right. Who cares what this people do at their homes. Do they take care of their children? Do they pay their taxes? Do they trample my rights?
    But of course, it's better when I forced someone else to follow my beliefs right?

    December 16, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  9. Woman In California

    How many wives did Soloman and King David have?

    Since I got attacked on this subject by people suggesting to me that God told men to marry multiple times, please show me just ONCE in the Bible where God told David, Solomon, Jacob, or any of them to marry more than one wife at a time or that he approved of it. Go on, I dare you.

    December 16, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  10. ryanwin

    In the texts of the Bible, many people practiced polygamy. Abraham, Jacob (Israel), Solomon, and others. To some of them, it was counted as righteousness, to other's it was counted as evil. What was the difference? It had to be sanctioned by God for it to be righteous. In the case of Solomon and others, it was excessive and wicked. It was not practiced throughout the history recorded in the Bible, but only during specific periods, then it was disbanded. The texts of the Bible do not elaborate on the reason for this, but it appears that polygamy was practiced to build up God's people quickly.

    December 16, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  11. LinSea

    Bamada, these people do not belong to the LDS church and are not part of the 'LDS community.' The LDS church stopped practicing polygamy in the 1890s. They belong to a group that split away from the LDS church and formed a separate church.

    December 16, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  12. jed clampett

    The mormons call it "bleeding the beast". All of the sister wives are eligible for welfare on an individual basis. The more kids these "single moms" have the mo' money they get from the beast. Beast = Government

    December 16, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  13. KennyEee

    If this guy can put of with three three or four wife then it is his business. They are not costing or interfering with anyone else life.

    December 16, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  14. Woman In California

    @ Cody

    Thank you. Finally, someone who understands the Bible.

    December 16, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. Susan StoHelit

    @Wheredoesitend – it ends where we decide for it to end. It's a lie and a game to pretend like it's some slippery slope where people fall down and accidentally approve things.

    Oh, and America wasn't seen as some moral standard – back in the day, letting women show a bit of ankle was the moral decay that was going to destroy our country. There are always those who are so very appalled at anything changing from what they're used to, and make the dire predictions – without remembering how what they did growing up was seen as similar moral decay. It was rock and roll, it was letting women work, letting women vote, allowing divorce, birth control, so on and so forth for the last several CENTURIES.

    December 16, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  16. mitsu

    You have heard it "Some times I hate", come out Senator Santorum mouth. Now is this the "only" thing he says he "hate"?

    December 16, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  17. Stahp

    Awwwwww the moralists are upset.

    Go live in Somalia if you want theocracy.

    December 16, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  18. shawbrooke

    If there is gay marriage, then why not polygamy? Did anyone ever seriously believe that there could be one without the other?

    December 16, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  19. Rob

    As a married man I have my hands full with one women. My wife would probably say the same about me. Who am I or who is anyone to judge in this matter as long as it's about love. A question though, can Mormon women have more than one husband. Or is it not an equal opportunity religion.

    December 16, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  20. Jolat

    If polygamy is legal, and gay marriage is legal, does that mean that a man can have multiple husbands?

    December 16, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  21. Name Lola

    Who says polygamy is just for men?

    December 16, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. gwtheyrn

    I don't know what Rick is smoking, but from what I can tell, the ruling doesn't address polygamy. It addresses cohabitation.

    December 16, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. jimmyboston

    Polygamy already exists in every major US city in America, except we call it something else. Ever watch Maury or Springer?

    December 16, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. antes

    It wasn't a "Utah" ruling. It was from a judge in the U.S. District Court.

    December 16, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. Oneleg

    first amendment people, read it, embrace it... Freedom of religion, just because "your religion" doesn't mesh with "their religion" doesn't make you right or them wrong. You have your's and they have their's. That is all there is too it. If they are adults and wish to live this way, that is how they will live.9

    December 16, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
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