Utah Lawmakers Send a Big Message to Polygamists

The Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to two men or two women who want to call themselves married and for states to recognize such “marriages” performed in other states.

The court reasoned that the Constitution promises “a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,” which includes “intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.”

That reasoning opens the door to polygamy and who knows what else. In fact, there’s no reason why an individual should be denied “liberty” of their “intimate choices” to be married to four people at the same time.

And it’s only a matter of time before polygamy becomes the law of the land.

Anyone who’s heard about the reality TV show “Sister Wives” will recall that Kody Brown and his four “wives” have been trying to legitimize their polygamous “marriage.” They cited Obergefell  to support their case and appeared to have won a battle when a federal court invalidated the portion of Utah’s law against bigamy that barred unmarried people from living together.

But an appeals court overturned that decision.

Now Utah lawmakers want to expand the law against bigamy and render it lawsuit-proof. From WTKR:

The bill changes the wording of what makes someone a bigamist in the state and adds penalties for cases that involve abuse, fraud and human trafficking, according to the text of the bill.

The law would now say that a person is guilty of bigamy if he or she lives with a purported spouse while legally married to someone else. The current law says bigamy occurs when a married man weds someone “spiritually” or when he cohabitates with someone.

The bill, HB99, also says that in cases where domestic or sexual abuse and other factors occur, the crime becomes a second-degree felony, instead of third-degree. It exempts those who leave bigamous relationships because of fear for their safety or because they are a minor.

HB 99 passed the Senate by only one vote.

Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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