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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  • The fact that people are making the argument doesn’t mean that the argument is valid. We said, all along, that polygamy would have to stand on its own and has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not same-sex marriage should be recognized.

    Personally, I don’t know enough about polygamy to form an opinion.There was a time when Utah (by a significant margin) had the highest percentage of women with advanced degrees in the US. On the other hand, I don’t know the effect on children.

    If these people (who seek notoriety for economic reasons) are serious then they will start what will be a very expensive process that will require up to a decade of litigation. Obergefell doesn’t provide a precedent.

    • Comenius

      And just because you’re making “the argument doesn’t mean that the argument is valid”…that the rights of polygamists are less important or valid than the rights of homosexuals.

      All of the arguments used to justify homosexual marriage can be used to justify polygamy. At least the polygamy here is normal sex between a man and a woman. That much we do know about the polygamy described here.

  • 201821208 :)

    “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” Proverbs 6:32
    “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4

  • Tiger

    Legalized pedophilia was always the ultimate goal for the degenerates. Break down more barriers and eventually nothing will be regarded as normal.

    • Guest

      New Hampshire already allows 13 and 14 year olds to marry, no change is necessary.

  • Emmanuel

    Get ready to have the left show their morality. Come on lefties, tell us why this is wrong.

    • Guest

      ‘wrong’? The state doesn’t offer a contract that isn’t exclusive – make the promises of a marriage contract of mutual total commitment to another once that’s being a spouse -, do it again at the same time that’s committing fraud.

      If a a citizen wants to have a concubine contract that allows partial commitment over several contracts that would require something new and best get lobbying for its creation. As it stands everyone already has equal access to that same nonexistent contract with its necessarily different promises than the marriage contract.

      The civil marriage contract being available to all regardless of their sexes is just letting everyone do what some have always been able to do – some a husband, others a wife. This was about making an already existing civil contract available to all regardless of sex-based licensing restrictions, its still the same contract – same promises, same results. No state must license the civil contract of marriage, but if they do they must do so constitutionally.

      • Emmanuel

        So now marriage is between 2 people? Fine, Why can’t we redefine marriage to an infinite number of people? A contract can be modified and change. To limit one contract between two is not right. Why can’t one woman have multiple equal contracts with whomever she wants? Why limit the number of contracts? Or say one is more important than another?

        • acontraryview

          “So now marriage is between 2 people? Fine,”

          So nice to see that you are fine with marriage being between two people, which would include two people of the same gender.

          “Why can’t we redefine marriage to an infinite number of people?”

          We can, however it is highly unlikely that we will based upon the numerous legal and practical issues that are involved.

          • Emmanuel

            Hey, to each their own. live like you want. I’m nobody to stop anyone.
            My only issue, don’t force the church to change it’s moral stance to accept sin. I feel the same about divorce, fornication, adultery, greed, pride and all mentioned sin. Again, legal is legal and church is church. Right?
            if SSM don’t like the church, don’t go. Find a fake church to get married. But, don’t try to change the Bible.

          • acontraryview

            “My only issue, don’t force the church to change it’s moral stance to accept sin.”

            Religious organizations in the US are provided the protection to determine what they view as sin, so there can be no “forcing” otherwise. The legality of something does not require that a religious organization change their views. As you clearly point out in your examples. Divorce, fornication, adultery, greed, and pride are all legally allowed, yet you, and most religious groups, view continue to view those as sinful.

            “Again, legal is legal and church is church. Right?”

            Absolutely. It’s unfortunate that there are so many who are unable to grasp, or accept, that reality.

            “Find a fake church to get married.”

            A religious ceremony is not required for a couple to be legally married.

          • Emmanuel

            You are right, to get married you don’t need a church, so why the push from the SSM to get married in churches? Marry us or else; lawsuit, bigots, narrow minded?
            So many want separation, but then they don’t. This is a great example. Anyone can get married, but we want to get married in a church that approves of our sin. No separation after all. So separation or not?
            We have Biblical principles and morals, the lefties have been trying to change those to accommodate their sin. Anyone can create their own morals and principles, so SSM, the left and right can go out and do what they like to justify their sin. But, they don’t. They push and push for the church to change.
            We will keep our Biblical principle and sins, and all your people can go form your own standards and principles. When you want to follow Biblical principles, we welcome you all with open arms. I love my gay friends but we have an understanding and a mutual respect.

          • acontraryview

            “Marry us or else”

            Please cite cases where SS couples have said to a church: Marry us or else.

            “but we want to get married in a church that approves of our sin.”

            Which there are and they do. What is your issue with that? Do you not support freedom of religious belief?

            “We have Biblical principles and morals, the lefties have been trying to change those to accommodate their sin.”

            No one can change your principles and morals. You alone decide what those will be.

            “They push and push for the church to change.”

            First, there is not “the church”. There are a variety of churches. Second, do you not support freedom of speech? Finally, churches are free to accept or not accept whatever they care to. They cannot be forced to change.

            “We will keep our Biblical principle and sins, and all your people can go form your own standards and principles.”

            Choosing the bible as your basis IS forming your own standards and principles. That those are written down in a book does not mean that you are not choosing them.

            “we have an understanding and a mutual respect.”

            As well it should be. Since your gay friends have respect for your beliefs, then it would be without merit to lump all gay people together as pushing for something, wouldn’t it?

        • Guest

          This is why these discussions go round round, you are using the term differently than the courts do and then wonder why they aren’t treating ‘marriage’ the way you think they should be.

          In all these court proceedings, ‘Marriage’ is the title on top of a civil contract licensed by states to establish a legally recognized familial relationship between two cosigners, that of spouse. This is similar to the function of an adoption contract.

          This is a civil contract, not a private one. The whole point of a civil contract is you are licensing permission to use a set one from the state, so no they can’t modify and change it any more than than they can unilaterally change the conditions of a fishing ‘license’ (also a civil contract).

          All contracts are a set of promises, all civil contracts are a set of promises between the signers and the state with the state defining how they are going to treat people who enter the contract.

          The marriage equality movement was about changing the licensing restriction on entering the contract, not a change in the contract itself. And that is the different between it and your examples as I point out earlier. All the conditions and promises the state expect spouses to meet can be met by the cosigners regardless of their sex. Shared income, complete mutual responsibility for assets, etc. But many of these conditions can only be met in a mutually exclusive reciprocal set of promises, as I quipped earlier – obligate yourself once this way is being married, impossibly making those same exclusive commitments to someone else at the same time is fraud because someone isn’t getting what they are promised.

          So to answer your question – the limit on contracts is because that is the way the contract is designed – it doesn’t work if there are more than 2 or there are multiple contracts.

          That means what the people like you asking for such things are really asking for is a different civil contract. This is in contrast to the marriage equality argument that successfully pointed out that the only thing keeping them from using the existing contract was a licensing restriction on that contract, not any quality of the contract itself.

          Your example cases and the marriage equality case are fundamentally different cases legally which is why you get eye rolls when you present them as the same – it totally undercuts anyone taking your arguments seriously.

          You want to have ‘spouses’ that you can make partial commitments to that would require a new kind of contract – civil or otherwise.

          • Can two people regardless of their sexes fulfill the promises and conditions of civiil contract and the requirements of the state? Yes.

          • Can a person be committed via multiple concurrent copies of this contract and fulfill the commitments and requirements without committing fraud to either another cosigner or the state? No.

          Again, to have multiple concubines either all under one contract or with the proto-Mormon/Biblical system of multiple contracts would require a new civil contract with new promises and obligations – merely removing the licensing restriction won’t work in those cases because of the promises and obligations signing the marriage contract creates between all the signers and the state.

          I can understand why you would wish it was the same – it’d be a great argument – unfortunately they aren’t and so it isn’t. In these court cases we aren’t talking about the religious rite of marriage, we aren’t talking about someone’s idea of the ‘institution’ of marriage, we are talking about legal and constitutionally compliant access to a particular civil contract with particular traits. I could see first cousins making a successful argument for changing the relationship licensing restrictions for the existing contract, I could see someone making a successful argument for changing the age too since that wouldn’t change the contract, but the number of cosigners in the contract or allowing multiple concurrent contracts – that requires a change in the contract itself and so is NOT a request for equal access to the civil contract.

          I’ve purposely stated the same thing several different ways in hopes one will ‘click’.

          • Emmanuel

            Thank you. You are the first and only that has clarified it for me. I was being defiant to push you and thank you for being patient. I agree, actually, to only one contract. What you said makes clear sense and it “click” for me. LOL
            Thank you and have a happy holiday.

          • Guest

            Thank you for the nice reply. I understand the reasons why someone would like to think the cases were the same but in legal reasoning they are as different as night and day.

            You have a nice holiday too.

          • Vino Veritas

            You fail to acknowledge why marriage exists as a formally recognized relationship to begin with, to join one man and on woman as husband and wife. Two individuals of the same sex cannot meet this foundational purpose. If society, primarily through the courts, eliminates conjugality, male female, as the basic for legal marriage, in order to satisfy the desires of a sexual minority within a minority, why should it retain monogamy?

          • Guest

            I don’t deal with it because it isn’t an issue since all legal instruments change with time, be like bringing voting used to exclude women and African Americans, oh well.

            The purpose of the civil contract of marriage is to establish a legally recognized familial relationship between the cosigners, similar in function to an adoption contract. Since the variability between men and women is less than each group within its own the idea that somehow men and women are intrinsically different in ways that the members of a same sex couples aren’t it doesn’t make sense. If there was a legal requirement to breed with each other to qualify as being spouses you might have a point, but there isn’t.

            And many married couples are not monogamous, I don’t understand why you think same sex couples changes the sexual fidelity of couples or that is a quality that is ‘retained’. Adultery is not a crime or an intrinsic grounds for divorce in my state and many others, marital fidelity is not part and parcel to the civil contract. These days the couple themselves decides if they are going to be monogamous or not (though I do personally recommend it).

  • acontraryview

    “We advocates for the natural family knew that the slope was slippery,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute commented reporters.

    Given that the court did not rule in their favor, the slope is not slippery.

    “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.”

    That is clearly false, as the arguments were rejected.

    • Aztec01

      It hasn’t reached the Supreme Court yet

  • acontraryview

    It appears the “slippery slope” just got covered with glue.

    • JCMeg56

      All restrictions will eventually be stricken, because legality is political. Whatever the majority decides is what the law will reflect. Given time, the number two will give way to multiples, and the age limitations will slide further and further into childhood.

      • acontraryview

        “Given time, the number two will give way to multiples, and the age limitations will slide further and further into childhood.”

        Basis? Do you actually believe that it is the political will of the majority to allow polygamy and child marriage?