The Supreme Court, which has not tried a polygamy case in a century, just granted Kody Brown, star of the TLC reality television show Sister Wives, until September 10 to file a petition for the nation’s highest court to review his case for the legalization of polygamy.
The reality star and his wives sued Utah in 2012 over its historic ban on plural marriage. The Browns were under investigation for bigamy after their TLC reality show aired. They claim the ban on plural marriage infringes on … their right to privacy.
If the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution consistently, based on the premise set in last summer’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, then they ought to read into the supreme law of the land a right to bigamy.
In the landmark Obergefell decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.
In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
If marriage is simply about “finding a life that could not be found alone,” then there is no reason why this country should deny recognizing consenting adults’ polygamous relationships.
And surely Kody Brown and his harem – to which he is considering adding a fifth wife (the niece of his fourth wife) – love marriage. They find some kind of fulfillment in their union – that’s why they want to expand it!
If the legal precedent set in Obergefell is binding, why shouldn’t the Supreme Court recognize these multiple-person unions?
Conservative opponents to the logic behind Obergefell have been warning that polygamy would be the next great marriage battle. They warned the American people that, if the standard for marriage was weakened, nothing could be done in law to prevent the flood of inventive relationships looking to be sanctioned by the government.
Ryan T. Anderson, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation, wrote for the Daily Signal that the media has been slowly normalizing polygamous relationships and that polygamists are mounting an attack on legal requirements for monogamy:
But if the male-female nature of marriage is utterly arbitrary, what’s so special about the number two? What is the principled reason for denying ‘marriage equality’ to threes and fours and more? That’s the question facing our nation now that Anthony Kennedy has arbitrarily redefined marriage.”
But, never fear, the slippery slope argument is a fallacy! As leftists assured the nation in the build-up to and aftermath of Obergefell, polygamy could never, ever become a legal issue.
Except they were wrong, and it is now a legal issue facing the highest court in the land.
Leftists who supported Obergefell but oppose polygamy may argue that polygamy ought to be banned on the basis of the harm polygamous relationships have on families.
Rose McDermott, a professor of political science at Brown University, points out for the Wall Street Journal that women in polygamous relationships “have higher rates of HIV infection than men, sustain more domestic violence, succumb to more female genital mutilation and sex trafficking, and are more likely to die in childbirth. Their life expectancy is also shorter than that of their monogamous sisters. In addition, their children, both boys and girls, are less likely to receive both primary and secondary education.” Dozens of other scholars have come to the conclusion that polygamy is bad for individuals, families, and communities, too.
However, an argument built on the fact that polygamy is harmful cannot stand before a post-Obergefell Supreme Court.
The left completely ignored similar warnings about homosexual unions. If the left-wing majority on the Supreme Court can impose a lie like “gay marriage” on society, in spite of great evidence as to the dangers accompanying such an imposition, what reason do lawyers and judges have for acting on the piles of evidence proving how inimical polygamy is to a healthy society?
The Obergefell decision paves the way for completely destroying the institution of traditional marriage. Standards which previously kept society healthy and happy now have been abandoned, and the Supreme Court can no longer pretend as though any standards govern their decisions.
The Pandora’s Box of relativism has been opened. It cannot be closed. The left hath wrought this, and America will suffer. Polygamy is just the next step.
Michael Lucchese works at the American Principles Project.