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. cebundy

    I can't believe that there were laws against "cohabitation". As long as children and adults are not forced into these marriages, I can't see anything wrong with it. But "freedom" in this country only seems to mean freedom to be certain kinds of Christians. Rick Santorum and his ilk believe that we should have freedom only to do what they say.

    December 16, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. doughnuts

    I'm surprised Santorum, and others of his ilk, would have a problem with polygamy.
    It has a very strong Biblical basis.

    December 16, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. cbk16

    What was once legal in the Bible is now legal again.

    December 16, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. Free Country Right?

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men/women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    December 16, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Keith

    I would assume that 1 wife could provide enough good orderly direction for any man

    December 16, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. Ricky

    Cohabitation among consenting adults does not bother me. The problem with the Mormons is that they want to force 14 year old girls to get marry to 60 year old guys, and that is perverted, but consenting adults can do whatever they want.
    Legal marriage among polygamists might be complicated though, because divorce would become a whole mess (dividing assets and legal custody of the children), but cohabitation with a main legal wife or husband, I don't see issues with that.

    December 16, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. DustyOnes

    Dang this is funny.

    December 16, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. billym67

    @Margaret "There isn't any definition of marriage any more. To all of you who approved of gay marriage and don't support this....WAKE UP! Can you not see what's right in front of your nose? Yesterday gay marriage, today plural marriage....what's going to be next?" I don't know, maybe real freedom. Some people in this country have a very strange idea, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", perhaps it should read, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as long as conservatives agree".

    December 16, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. cbk16

    What was once legal in the Bible is now legal once more.

    December 16, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. Keith

    I would assume that 1 wife could provide enough good orderly direction for any man.

    December 16, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. Derek

    Why would anybody want another nagging wife?

    December 16, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. mike

    Polygamy is a more natural act than gay marriage. So what's wrong with it? If it's ok for gays to marry, it should be ok for polygamy families. and those in Montana should be able to marry their sheep also!

    December 16, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Fred Evil

    Conservatives, ALL about smaller government and liberty, unless it is YOUR life they are interfering with.

    December 16, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. DJones

    Anyone who supports gay marriage should also support polygamy. After all scientist tell us that monogamy is unnatural for the human race. We all know that it is a natural a part of the human experience to want multiple partners, it is hard wired into our DNA, so we ought to accept that marriage is what every you want it to be.

    December 16, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. M R

    For those of you who keep calling these people Mormon, please STOP! These people are not Mormon and have nothing to do with the Mormon (LDS) Church. It drives me crazy when misinformation keeps getting spread.

    December 16, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Obama - Liar of the Year

    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.

    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? In this case he is supporting his kids. That inner city guy is not and is off chasing number 16. Are you going to shut those women and kids off from welfare and food stamps? If not, why not?

    December 16, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. kneesus

    Oh hey! Traditional marriage!

    December 16, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Welfare Scheme

    The FACTS are one man cannot support dozens of children financially. The kids get qualified for taxpayers handouts based on "need". FINE – you want to f up your kids and demand your rights – NO MORE WELFARE. Simple.
    The facts are, Mitt Romney could support dozens of children financially. The best way to get rid of, reduce, welfare would be to raise the minimum wage. Doing so would take about a million Wal*Mart workers off of public assistance alone.

    December 16, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Cody

    Anyone saying that polygamy was "legal" in the bible is an idiot...its existence in scripture doesnt condone it. Every instance of polygamy in scripture is met with less than ideal consequences.

    December 16, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. romany stanton

    i'm sorry if u are for gay marriage then u have zero right to be against any other form of marriage, if u want someone to accept your lifestyle then u have to be open to accepting others lifestyles that might not be quite the norm, its all or none period

    December 16, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Bort

    How is this different that Crawford v. Texas, which struck down the ban on sodomy? Essentially it said consenting adults can do what they want in the privacy on their own homes. This is very similar. If two women or two men can have an adult relationship, how is it different than man and two women (or other variations)? Also, Tony Perkins need to actually read the decision – it did not "redefine marriage". It actually upheld the old definition stating you could not be married to more than one person at a time. It only allowed multiple people to shack-up, not get married to each other.

    December 16, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. getacluelittleshrew

    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.

    December 16, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Big Jilm

    I love how some of these posters are saying "poly now, what's next?" Polygamy is of the past. Some Utah ultra conservatives would like to bring it back.

    Don't believe me – check out the Bible. There's tons of polygamy in there. Bible thumpers send confusing messages.

    December 16, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. GrogInOhio

    Wow... conservatives are utterly obsessed with other people's business.

    December 16, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Does it work both ways, as in can a woman have mulitple husbands?
    Probably not huh?
    With the exception of the multiple mother-in-law issue (which would ruin the deal for me at least) that would work out pretty well for women also, but for possibly different reasons.
    Imagine men with different strong suits: a man that fulfills our emotional needs, one that fulfills our physical needs, one for the money, two for the show, three to get get the gist ;)!

    December 16, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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