Montana Judge Denies Polygamist’s Request for ‘Marriage Equality’ in Striking Down Bigamy Law

Collier-compressedBILLINGS, Mont. — A judge in Montana has halted the lawsuit of a polygamist who sought “marriage equality” after was denied a license to tie the knot with a second woman.

As previously reported, Nathan Collier, 46, went to the Yellowstone County Courthouse in July with his partner Christine to seek a second marriage license.

As the U.S. Supreme Court had just opined days earlier that homosexuals should be able to “marry,” he stated that if the court really believes in equality, then he should have the right to marry as he wishes as well. Collier 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.”

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.”

“We feel entitled for a legal legitimacy and for [the Yellowstone County Courthouse] to deny this is a violation of our civil rights,” Collier told TIME earlier this year. “We feel the marriage equality law applies to us.”

“I’m not trying to redefine marriage,” he continued. “I’m not forcing anyone to believe in polygamy. We’re only defining marriage for us. We just want legitimacy.”

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Collier filed suit in August to challenge the law, claiming violations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equality clause, as well the First Amendment’s right to freedom of religion and association.

Last week, U.S. Magistrate Carolyn Ostby ruled that Collier had no standing in the case as he needs to demonstrate that Montana’s law against bigamy has caused him harm or that he would be prosecuted if he violated the law.

Collier has until Dec. 22 to file any objections to Ostby’s decision. The case will then be handed over to Judge Susan Watters, who will then decide whether the case will proceed or be officially dismissed.

“We advocates for the natural family knew that the slope was slippery,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute commented reporters. “All the arguments used to insist upon removing the gender requirement from marriage can be applied directly to removing the limit to two and only two partners.”

“We said it long ago, and we were told we were hyperventilating,” she continued. “Now, here are the people making the argument.”

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