Tuesday, December 17, 2013

No, the Utah decision has nothing to do with civil marriage

In Utah, as in other states, it is illegal to seek a marriage license when you are already married to someone else.  THat is, no civil poly-marriage.

However, in Utah, they also criminalize people who cohabit for religious reasons.  That is, even if you aren't seeking civil marriage, if you simply live in a polygamous situation, you are breaking the law.  But only if you are doing it for religious reasons.

You know what?  As long as your sexual expression is private and consensual, the state has no business criminalizing it.

And that's all the judge found.

From Think Progress:
The Utah case involved a suit filed by Kody Brown and his wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, who are featured on the TLC documentary show Sister Wives. They argued that Utah’s anti-polygamy laws infringed upon their Mormon religious practice and their privacy, and District Court Judge Clark Waddoups, a George W. Bush appointee, agreed. But Waddoups’ decision leaves in place that it is illegal in Utah to be legally married to more than one person at the same time, which begs the question of what exactly he actually overturned.

Utah’s laws go far beyond limiting an individual to only one marriage license. As Waddoups recounted in his decision, the statute also prohibits “cohabitation,” referring to any situation in which a married person “purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.” Even though Kody Brown only has a marriage license with one of his wives, the fact that he has a living arrangement that includes other individuals he refers to as wives — deemed “religious cohabitation” in the Mormon context of multiple marriages — was thus a violation of the law. Indeed, the law seems to punish those who claim multiple marriages even if those marriages exist only in a religious — not civil — context. This, Waddoups ruled, was not only an intrusion into their religious beliefs, but also a violation of their right to private consensual sexual behavior as guaranteed by the Supreme Court in the 2003 decision Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the country’s so-called “sodomy laws” criminalizing same-sex relations.
Not about marriage.  Simply about religious freedom and privacy.

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