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. Rudy NYC

    "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.
    It sounds like this Perkins would object to two seniors, or jost plain folks who are past the child bearing years, getting married. Doesn't it? If you're not looking to procreate and raise children, then you cannot get married. That's how I hear it.

    December 16, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. History Bear

    Yup, religious freedom, unless it irritates your religious beliefs. Once again the Religious right and the Righ Wing politicians want to put their nose into your business. I don't give a hoot if you have 10 wives or husbands. You just aren't entitled to assistance because you can't support everyone. Polygamy/andry only if you are self supporting. Then party on dudes.

    December 16, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. just asking

    just asking
    if they are all consenting adults, who cares how many wives a guy has? don't they have miultiple wives in the arab culture? it is not like it is unheard of. i say let people marry as many people as they want. spread the love around! stop discriminating against these people.
    Because typically across the Arizona Strip and southern Utah, these second wives and associated offspring are on the welfare rollsgetting government assistance and food support as "single parent families". Fraud my friend, these folks commit fraud, and the proof lies in the palatial houses (ha! dormatories) built throughout this region, aided, abetted and skimmed by the leaders of their "church".

    but welfare fraud is rampant in the inner cities of this country. where is your outrage about that? why would you deny these kids and yet support the inner city welfare case?

    December 16, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. cumulus

    I get the drift, and i don't think he is mature enough for one woman who could cook and clean, heaven forbid he be expected to act like a man. If he had real sexual prowess, the women would look better, they lack self esteem, a good looking intelligent woman would kick him to the curb. He preys on women who need help . But alas, to each his / her own, I would say they deserve better, but?

    December 16, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    much thunder..little rain

    gays , multi wives....whats nexts ...i dont even want to know
    Uh. Ancient aliens?

    December 16, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Face The Facts

    @Think Again–like your posts. The one about multiple husbands left some out. How about a husband just to escort their wife to cultural events or maybe to Church, or maybe to the in-laws during the holidays. If we get several husbands all together they may add up to one great husband.

    December 16, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Aaron

    Both parties are about championing some freedoms while restricting others. They just have different focuses, and what you view as most important will probably determine which side of the aisle you end up on. To characterize one party as "the one that restricts our rights!" while holding your own up as a bastion of freedom is asinine and ignorant.

    That being said, I have often said to myself that if gay marriage gets legalized, polygamy will be soon behind. Not from any doom and gloom scenario or feelings of personal animosity, but just from common sense. If one group of people wins marriage equality based on the idea that they are consenting adults and that the government can't restrict their right to marry, then those who want to practice polygamy will use the same argument and there's not a thing that anyone can do about it. Once you set precedent there's really no going back. And if you are for same-sex marriage and against polygamy, you should probably look into that a little further and see if you are the same as the bigots you were decrying a few years ago.

    December 16, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Scott

    LMAO, on the day Obama is issuing Social Security checks , with our money, to spouses of Gay marriage. This is how Rome fell.

    December 16, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    We as a country need some serious help. How can anybody agree with this filth?
    Me being a child of God, I completely agree with your statement. However, we are not governed by the Holy Bible, Quran or Torah, but the Constitution of the United States of America. If you don't like it, you're more than welcome to leave.

    December 16, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Live Free

    Perhaps my response is colored by the fact that I'm a woman, but reading about these folks (I've never watched the program nor plan to) brings me back to the same conclusion that this is one big ego trip for a guy who isn't mature enough to handle monogamy and needs some kind of permission slip from God so he doesn't feel bad about cheating on his wife.
    And the women? Yikes, beyond the pale when it comes to lacking self-esteem

    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?

    December 16, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. cumulus

    You can't seriously think kids raised in this environment aren't being subjected to a lifestyle they can't be proud of.what do you call your cousin, brother? When your relationship creates a scenario where your related more than once, safe to say your not normal. Get a clue jethro .

    December 16, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Joe

    People originally came to this country for religious freedom. It was with this in mind which the constitution was written, and the government has no right to tell us that something that does not directly harm another human being is wrong. Like it or not, polygamy doesn't hurt you. Get over it and live your own life.

    December 16, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. Sakura

    I see no problem with polygamy these people are adults that know what they are doing, if they choose this life style then leave them be

    December 16, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. The Chair

    These extremists love to spout out before even understanding the issue. The Judge only struck down the part of the law that made adult cohabitation illegal. Polygamy is still illegal. Shesh!

    December 16, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Larry

    Guess I don't understand the problem. If women are willing to knowingly enter into a polygamous marriage and are of legal age, what does it matter?

    December 16, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Brock

    Three women were willing to all service the same guy, and HE'S the best they could do?

    December 16, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Anon – we would all feel better if it was your wife posting. As of now, it is just your opinion.

    December 16, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. cumulus

    Don't be throwing the ancient aliens in here, what did they ever do yo you? But seriously on that, the pictures of men in space suits drawn thousands of years ago is interesting. I'll stop there, because I don't know, neither do you.

    December 16, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Servers

    Utah = Google = Moral Authority = 4th Amendment Violations for Future Generations.

    Do you think they will eventually push for Gun Control to protect these robot assets when they hit the streets?

    December 16, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Ron

    Why does no one bring up that the religion this is all for is rather evil? They like the multiple wives, but they never mention what happens to all the extra boys.... they are just kicked out of their town and are forbidden to see their families again......

    Guess that just falls to the wayside instead lets talk about how evil the GOP is.

    December 16, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    Honestly, what goes on behond closed doors between 2 consenting adults is not the business of anyone, least of all the government. Unless fraud is not being committed or if its a case of someone who is not doing it for religious reason, it should be legal.

    December 16, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. JLS639

    The ruling said you cannot outlaw cohabitation. Sorry, cohabitation is not the same as marriage. It does not bring the same rights and legal benefits and is easily ended if either participant wishes to end it.

    Why do I, a mostly extreme liberal, need to remind social conservatives that cohabitation is not marriage? Normally they are reminding me that cohabitation is not marriage.

    If lawmakers want to go back to common law marriage, then this law could be upheld, couldn't it? But, oh, no, we cannot say that a couple who lives together, shares everything, are s-exually involved and show all the trappings of marriage are married. That would be immoral. Come on, you cannot have it both ways. Bring back common law marriage, or lose the cohabitation laws. Santorum was wrong. It was not anti-sodomy laws that wrought this, it was the elimination of common law marriage.

    December 16, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. straight

    what next!? marriage with your dog!!uccchhh u just watch.......

    December 16, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Brock

    Correction – Four women

    December 16, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. WhatsamattaU

    I don't know about the rest of you, but while I have no trouble with the idea of polygamy, there are two major reasons that I would not consider it for myself. 1) I find that one wife, despite the fact that I love her greatly, is more than enough. I don't know that I could handle any more than that. 2) That poor guy on Big Love (played so well by Bill Paxton) was completely overwhelmed by the competing demands of his wives and the legion of offspring. If that's what you want your life to be, go for it. I'm at full capacity with but one wife and three kids, thanks very much.

    December 16, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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