Could Friday’s Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the country make polygamous marriage a legal reality nationwide in the near future?
Jonathan Turley, the attorney who won the polygamy marriage case in Utah for Kody Brown and his four “Sister Wives” thinks the majority opinion “resonates” with the arguments he made to the Utah Supreme Court to decriminalize polygamous consensual relationships.
“The cases are actually different in that the Brown case is about the criminalization while today’s case was about recognition. We have not argued for recognition of plural marriages. Indeed, the Browns have never asked for multiple marriage licenses,” Turley said in an e-mail statement to The Daily Caller.
“Like many plural families, they have one state license for one marriage but chose to live as a plural family with “spiritual marriages.” In that sense, our case is more like Lawrence v. Texas that was handed down ten years ago.”
Turley explained, “Having said that, much of the language of the majority clearly resonates with our arguments against the criminalization of private consensual relations. It also speaks to the stigma that is borne by families in being excluded in society. That is an even greater danger when your entire family is declared a criminal enterprise merely because the parents chose to cohabitate as a plural family.”
He added, “The important thing though is to recognize that the question in our case is closer to the issue resolved by the Supreme Court ten years ago for gay couples in striking down the criminalization of homosexual relationships.”
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled in August of 2014 Utah’s ban on polygamy violated the First and 14th Amendments. Similarly, the Supreme Court’s majority opinion that legalized same-sex marriage also pointed to the 14th Amendment. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote for the majority, stated, “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.”
Academic Frederick deBoer writes in Politico Magazine how the Supreme Court’s decision opens the doors for legal polygamous marriages.
“The marriage equality movement has been both the best and worst thing that could happen for legally sanctioned polygamy. The best, because that movement has required a sustained and effective assault on ‘traditional marriage’ arguments that reflected no particular point of view other than that marriage should stay the same because it’s always been the same.”