December 16th, 2013
01:10 PM ET
9 years 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. Cat

    I thought the Bible was ok with polygamy??? Didn't most of the guys in the Bible have multiple wives? How can Conservatives argue AGAINST the Bible??? I thought they weren't allowed to do that.

    December 16, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Peter Bishop

    Conservatives are right about this one.

    December 16, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  3. Jimmy

    Well, well, well, the earth did not explode and the sky did not fall !! Now, can people just mind their OWN business and stay out of everyone else's bedroom ?

    December 16, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. independant jim

    I agree with Bob

    December 16, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. James

    Of course the religious whackos have their opinion. Since they can't resist trying to deny people basic human rights, I will do the same. I propose that we outlaw religion.

    December 16, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  6. svann

    As the law read before it would be legal for you to sleep with 20 women, but not if you let them live with you.

    December 16, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  7. Gdawg

    Commenter Dylan expresses the correct interpretation of this story: Utah cannot regulate who lives with whom using their polygamy statute. If a guy and 5 women wish to live together and consider themselves married, they can do so. They cannot, however, be legally married. End of story. True conservatives and libertarians should applaud this ruling, since it limits the reach of government into people's personal lives.

    December 16, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. Namewilfredo

    Not a good example to the children!

    December 16, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  9. Chad

    Oh my goodness! They are not Mormon. Not real Mormon. Polygomy has been banned by the church for a long time. It was only good for long long ago when a woman could not take care of herself and/or her children if her husband died. It was a way to help the community. These people ARE NOT MORMON.

    December 16, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  10. Calvin murphy

    Hey happy for your win,& may god bless you and your family I wish you all the best... Am behind you 💯%

    December 16, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Poppa

    This is a perfect example of imperfect laws. If the goal is to force a man to be responsible for his children, make the law say THAT. Why would living with, or marrying multiple women at one time be an issue if there were no children involved? Or if the children are well cared for? Be prepared for defining what well cared for means... does that mean the children must go to church? Become republicans? Personally i think it's a matter of envy... I am miserable with my one wife so why should YOU be happy with your 5?

    December 16, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. gardnerparents

    I feel like CNN did a great job at making it sound like these polygamists are members of the Mormon church. However, polygamy is not practiced or allowed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1890. These polygamists may, however, be members of the FLDS church, a break off of the LDS (Mormon) church. Again, polygamy is in no way tolerated in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and CNN needs to do a better job at not trying to get viewers' attention by acting like these two religions are one in the same.

    December 16, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. Wacky Sue

    Santorum against sodomy is the epitome of irony. Why are people so obsessed with the private lives of others? Mind your own damn business and do something worthwhile!

    December 16, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  14. Jeri

    Morality has become a free for all. Remember that was the downfall of the Roman Empire. And God is not one to be mocked, you will reap what you sow.

    December 16, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Eddie

    Whose Damn business is it on who loves me or who I love? With or without multiple partners there are already too many critics in the bed already. PRIVACY and the respect of onesone's culture is warranted here. The Critics act as if time is not moving forward and that their culture was always popular. Morales is defined by one's culture and religious background. So the Critics here must not believe in a free America. 4 women 1 man in love is 5 times loving as what a traditional critic would get at home so the hating must stem from jealousy.

    December 16, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  16. AJ

    Marriage became elastic years ago!! Explain the difference in having multiple spouses through repeated divorces, and consensual cohabitation where everyone involves is content with the arrangement. Saying that a monogomous relationship is necessary for civilization's future and ignoring the 6 parents many kids end up with takes all the credibility out of your argument.

    December 16, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  17. Walker

    What makes a man having multiple wives "socially conservative"? Is because this man justifies it with the bible? Oh please. That concept seems pretty liberal to me. But honestly, If all of these women are completely okay with sharing a man, let them be.

    December 16, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  18. Name

    To each it's own. Stop judging

    December 16, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  19. ehhhNo

    News Flash: You can no longer sell your daughter for two goats and a chicken. Marriage was redefined a long time ago, and will be again

    December 16, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    @Live Free: "Wow... so something must be wrong with the guy and all these woman in your book. Passing judgement on them while I'm sure you fully support gay marriiage, right? Why the double standard and hypocrisy?"

    If you don't get the difference between a committed relationship between TWO people and a guy with a harem, then I can't help you.

    And yes, I am passing judgement on this guy. I've already stated my reasons.

    December 17, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  21. Pat Baker

    Once gay marriages became legal anything goes. Polygamous marriages will become legal next; they can use the same platform the gays did and say as long as all the adults are willing participants it should be allowed. However, what if a man had 20 wives and had 3 children from each wife which equals 60 children and then he becomes disabled or unemployed; that would be a lot of people for the government to support. Also, there would be more men with large families like that man that could possibly have to sign up for government help too. So this life style could be expensive for the people still working and paying taxes to support the government programs. Also, over the years, there would be so many people related that relatives would start marrying relatives , some without realizing they were related, and mental and physical handicaps would begin to show up in their offsprings, and then there would be more people for the government to support.

    December 17, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  22. B.W.McClendon

    If you change the definition of marriage for one group, you must change it for all groups.

    December 17, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  23. krhodes


    "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."

    You people just don't get it do you? When marriage is gone then the family will follow. Certainly not long after that the nation. I don't know what is so hard to understand about that?

    December 17, 2013 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  24. Name bonnieV

    The question is, are they good people contributing positive family values to their kids. I say they are. They love each other, no harm to anyone and love their kids. Leave them alone...

    December 17, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  25. MHG

    Some women will walk around dropping brain cells as they navigate this world. Polygamy is not a win, win situation ladies. Does stupidity get any worse than this? This sharing of one man only benefits the man. The man holds all the cards in this situation. You can lie to yourselves all you want to. Ignorance must be bliss. Disgusting at a level unimaginable. And I'm not even considering any religious implication at all, it's just the revolting matter of it all. Grow up!

    December 17, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
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