Thursday, July 2, 2015

Polygamous Family Applies for Marriage License in Montana

Perhaps you've watched an episode of TLC's "Sister Wives" program? It features a man named Kody Brown and his multiple wives (one legal and the other spiritual). Brown was arrested back in 2011 and charged with bigamy. The bigamy charge was filed by the state of Utah, not because he tried filing multiple marriage licenses, but because he cohabited with his spiritual wives. He sued and managed to strike down that portion of Utah's bigamy law.

"Sister Wives" is in the news again. This time around, a Montana man named Nathan Collier tried applying for a marriage license for his spiritual wife while still married to his legal wife. He was reportedly inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage:
Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.
"It's about marriage equality," Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday. "You can't have this without polygamy."

County clerk officials initially denied Collier's application, then said they would consult with the county attorney's office before giving him a final answer, Collier said.

Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he is reviewing Montana's bigamy laws and expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week. "I think he deserves an answer," Gillen said, but added his review is finding that "the law simply doesn't provide for that yet."
Collier was inspired by Chief Justice John Roberts' dissent, which asserted that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal arguments that gay couples successfully used in support of our families.

One of my GCN friends was pretty livid about this case. She believes that it is too soon for someone like Collier to challenge their state's polygamy ban. She is also afraid that it just serves to justify concerns by anti-gay challengers.

I've always been more of a libertine when it comes to poly families. I don't think that that many people will actually seek legal plural marriages. Most could make a pretty strong religious liberty argument. And it would help bring some light into the otherwise closeted world of plural marriages.

On the other hand, divorce would suck. And it could become a huge drain on the Social Security system, as well as other pension sources.

On the other hand, we have been told that gay marriage will lead to polygamy for years. So give them a chance to make their case and then prove the connection. Or for the connection to be disproved.

Either way, I anticipate a plural marriage lawsuit storyline in future seasons of "Sister Wives."

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