HELENA, Mont. — A polygamist in Montana is seeking to obtain a “marriage” license for a second “wife” following last Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that all 50 states must legalize same-sex nuptials because of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
“It’s about marriage equality,” Nathan Collier, 46, told The Associated Press this week. “You can’t have this without polygamy.”
Collier went to the Yellowstone County Courthouse on Tuesday with his partner Christine to seek a second marriage license as he stated that if the Supreme Court really believes in equality, then he should have the right to marry as he wishes as well. He cited language from dissenting Chief Justice John Roberts, who stated that the “gay marriage” ruling “would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”
“[The majority ruling] offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not,” Roberts wrote. “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.”
Collier, a former Mormon, married his wife Victoria, 40, in 2000, and in the same year had a ceremony with Christine, but did not seek to obtain a license for fear of criminal prosecution. However, when the two later split, Christine married another man. But when that marriage ended in divorce, she and Collier got back together and Christine moved in with him and Victoria.
Between the two women, Collier has five children. He has appeared on the TLC reality show “Sister Wives,” featuring Kody Brown and his five “wives,” four of whom he considers to be united in a “spiritual union.”
As previously reported, Brown had filed a lawsuit in 2011 to challenge a Utah law that banned polygamous relationships, stating that it interfered with his right to privacy. Brown won the suit in part as Utah’s ban on polygamous co-habitation was struck down, but the state’s prohibition of bigamy remained intact.
According to reports, when Collier visited the Yellowstone County Courthouse on Tuesday to request a license for his second “wife,” he was initially denied. However, Collier was also informed that the matter would be presented to the county attorney for further consideration. An official decision is expected next week.
“We feel entitled for a legal legitimacy and for [the Yellowstone County Courthouse] to deny this is a violation of our civil rights,” he told TIME. “We feel the marriage equality law applies to us.”
“I’m not trying to redefine marriage,” Collier continued. “I’m not forcing anyone to believe in polygamy. We’re only defining marriage for us. We just want legitimacy.”
Christine made similar statements, asserting that love is love.
“It’s two distinct marriages; it’s two distinct unions. And for us to come together and create family—what’s wrong with that?” she told television station KTVQ. “I don’t understand why it’s looked upon and frowned upon as being obscene.”
Collier says that he is considering filing a lawsuit if his license is denied.