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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Ol' Yeller
    All the rest just ain't too sure about the whole dealio
    Your posts crack me up Ol' Yeller, but the humor does not take away from how insightful and on point they are.

    December 16, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    C'mon cnn, loosen up.
    Sniffit's post was funny as hell!

    December 16, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  3. philthese

    Let them do their thing. It isn't hurting anyone at all. If they are a loving family for the kids.....who the hell cares except for the religions who are afraid their fear-mongering grip on the world is slipping away.

    December 16, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. patNY

    One must wonder why Santorum and his like are soooooo obsessed with sodomy?

    December 16, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Guest

    As long as they put a limit of TEN husbands or wives per marriage. We wouldn't want this country to turn into some kind of freak show or something.

    December 16, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Logic

    Any one who uses Rick Santorum as an arbiter for ANYTHING needs their head examined. He says that like it was a bad thing that he was correct. I think Jesus would be moved to start throwing stones at this hypocrite.

    December 16, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. CryBabies

    Where is this headed??? Just curious. I've got 500 head of cattle out back and Bessie is looking real good compared to the other 400 females amongst the herd. I can't take her grocery shopping or to a movie but the long walks we take are wonderful. If we decide to tie the knot, I hope the laws do not interfere with our happiness.

    December 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Sam Adams

    My guess is that Santorum would also not hold Kim K in high esteem, having a child by adultery.

    The discussions surround polygamy, but there is also the women's possible interest in polyandry.

    The award winning master of science fiction, Robert A. Heinlein, described the various marriage arrangements he thought likely to promote longevity in families in his novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". Makes good reading.

    December 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  9. toadlife

    Reading through the comments, it's obvious that no one actually understands the ruling. The ruling only struck down the cohabitation part of the law. This makes Utah's law the same as most other states, in that only one wife can be the *legal* wife with all of the rights and privileges that go along with it. The other wives are just roommates/dependents in the eyes of the law.

    December 16, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Sniffit
    "(I've never watched the program nor plan to)"

    Translation: "I don't care to inform myself about the reality of this particular situation as my presumptions, assumptions and prejudices are all I need
    We seem to have a number of folks on BOTH sides of the aisle that feel this way about certain tv shows.
    They will criticize the show, the premise, and those that watch it without ever once tuning in.
    Definition of close-mindedness IMO.

    December 16, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. Jedediah

    If a man wants to marry many different womens and the womens don't mind then well it's just no one's business but theirs and all y'all just need to leave it alone. Same thing if a man wanted to marry his donkey or horse or whatever, it aint no one's business what they do together or how he feels for the donkey or the horse or whatever but everyone so quick to judge. I read that somewhere in India this year a man married a cow, they even had a big wedding ceremony and everything, lucky feller. Why is it that in a poor, smelly country like India these freedoms are allowed but in America they are not? It's racism and discrimination at it's worst if you ask me. So what if i 'choose' to marry my whole barn. If I feel the love and is both ways then that's all that matters. Same with those guys marrying many, many womens, it's their life not yours so who cares what they do. Yea so there, now if you can excuse 'Sally' seems to be needing some, attention.

    December 16, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Nice young man in a clean white coat

    Why would a government recognize marriage at all? Leave marriage to religion and let all relationships be handled like corporations.

    December 16, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  13. Jon

    Marriages appear to be somewhat worthless anyway. 50% of them end up in divorce, and another 25% are those folks who are miserable but stay together for the children. Why do we always have to try to run everyone else's lives in this country? How about minding your own business?

    December 16, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. z&hcats

    How do they file tax return? We only can claim one spouse in our tax return but not 4. Also, how many wife got the marriage license?

    December 16, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Tutuvabene

    Yep, we're going down the slippery slope. First gay marriage, now bigamy, next pedophilia, then murder.

    December 16, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Tutuvabene

    Can't wait for moderation.
    Yep, we're going down the slippery slope. First marriage, then bigamy, then who knows.

    December 16, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. ihbarddx

    I am male, and I cohabited with two females during grad school. We were neither intimate nor overly casual. We dated other people entirely. Should we have been arrested? I don't think so.

    December 16, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Old_Hippie

    The Old Testament is full of polygamy. Monogamy is actually quite a new idea in the time line of history. Polygamy, gay marriage, cousins marrying each other, if it makes people happy and does not cause me any pain in my life, I say "Have at it and enjoy."

    December 16, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. TheVaBrunette

    Who cares? As long as its a choice, they can support themselves and they are happy, I don't get what the big deal is?

    December 16, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Tutuvabene

    Down the slippery slope.

    December 16, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. rs

    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?
    Who says I don't have any? There are legitimate needs and uses for welfare and food stamps- having a harem isn't one of them.

    December 16, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Lucas

    I live in Utah, am LDS and have seen polygamists maybe five times in my life. There are very few of them out there.

    December 16, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. June

    I don't get how so many people can think its okay for polygamy to be legal! How can you possibly think its perfectly fine for a 12 year old girl to be sold to some man older man who is simply going to rape her several times with the intention of getting her pregnant, time an time again? How can you think its "a good thing" to have these poor women held captive and unable to flee from those terrible compounds? How can you think its so wonderful that these woman collect thousands of dollars in welfare money for all those poor abused children they have because the father is incapable of supporting them all? How can you think this cult mentality that is so dangerous to women and children is a GOOD thing? Have you lost your minds????

    December 16, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. Morgan

    Honestly, who cares? I have watched the show, they are normal people, who I'm sure have normal modern day problems like many other marriages nowadays. Most straight couples today don't respect marriage as it is. But God forbid any other type of couples get married. We straight people know whats best for everyone, we obviously have it all figured out. Polygamy, gay or interracial should all be acceptable. Its not hurting anyone. Just a bunch of ignorrant people getting all butt hurt cause they dont like something.

    And for all the people who have something dumb to say to me for instance, saying if we allow polygamy then we should allow people to marry their siblings or animals. I dont agree, animals for one cannot consent. And incest can cause health problems with offspring. Polygamy doesnt cause health problems with offspring, nor do interracial couples.

    December 16, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. Jim

    Me personally, I wouldn't have multiple wives because that means multiple mothers-in-law. If you can handle that issue, then why is it illegal? Gay marriage is fine with me too, not that there's anything wrooooong with that, so why can't polygamists get married too?

    December 16, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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