Montanan Nathan Collier said the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage should also allow him to marry two women, and now he’s fighting for the legal right.
“It’s about marriage equality,” Collier told The Associated Press. “You can’t have this without polygamy.”
Collier, who appeared on the TLC show Sister Wives in January, is legally married to one woman but took the second woman to the Yellowstone County Courthouse Tuesday and requested a marriage license.
At first, the county clerk denied his request but said they will consult with attorneys to decide the best course of action. Collier has two women in his life, Victoria and Christine, but he is only legally married to Victoria. He met both women in 1999 and says he had a “spiritual ceremony” with Christine.
Collier said if his request is denied, he will file a civil rights lawsuit.
“We’ve been together many years,” Collier told USA TODAY Network. “I want to give my wife the legitimacy that she deserves.”
While it’s unlikely Collier’s request will be granted and the Supreme Court decision did not specifically grant rights for polygamy, these claims are exactly what traditional marriage advocates warned would happen with the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Collier’s main argument is: if two men or two women can get married, what right do you have to tell me I can’t marry two women?
In his dissenting opinion last Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts warned this kind of thinking was the next step.
He wrote, “much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”
In one passage, he raised some serious questions about the logical implications of the ruling.
“Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.”
“If ‘[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,’ why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their…dissenting children would otherwise ‘suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,’ why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children?”
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