Marriage Equality: Federal Judge Strikes Down Polygamy Ban Based on Gay Rights
(CBS) Advocacy groups for polygamy and individual liberties on Saturday hailed a federal judge’s ruling that key parts of Utah’s polygamy laws are unconstitutional, saying it will remove the threat of arrest for those families. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said in the decision handed down Friday that a provision in Utah law forbidding cohabitation with another person violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees basic rights, including freedom of religion.
The legalization of polygamy followed logically from the legal arguments against one man-one woman, as was predicted not just by me, but also by Professor Martha Nussbaum, one of the leading legal advocates for gay marriage, “Polygamy would have to be permitted.”
A U.S. District Court judge has sided with the polgyamous Brown family, ruling that key parts of Utah’s polygamy laws are unconstitutional.
Judge Clark Waddoups’ 91-page ruling, issued Friday, sets a new legal precedent in Utah, effectively decriminalizing polygamy.
(Knish) And the argument for striking down a polygamy ban? Modernity. Of course. We’re all so modern now that we know marriage is no longer between a man and a woman. It can be between anything and anything. A man and a man. A man and three women. A man and a tree.
“To state the obvious,” Judge Waddoups wrote, “the intervening years have witnessed a significant strengthening of numerous provisions of the Bill of Rights.” They include, he wrote, enhancements of the right to privacy and a shift in the Supreme Court’s posture “that is less inclined to allow majoritarian coercion of unpopular or disliked minority groups,” especially when “religious prejudice,” racism or “some other constitutionally suspect motivation can be discovered behind such legislation.”
The judge cited the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that struck down laws prohibiting sodomy. He quoted the majority opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that stated the Constitution protects people from “unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places” and “an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and certain intimate conduct.”
As same-sex marriage has gained popular approval and legal status in recent years, some have hoped — and some feared — that other forms of cohabitation might follow. Justice Antonin Scalia, in his bitter and famous dissent from the 2003 Lawrence case, said the nation was on the verge of the end of legislation based on morality, and was opening the door to legalizing “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality and obscenity.”