If you believe that the Constitution requires that a man be allowed to marry another man, or a woman be allowed to marry another woman, then why shouldn’t a man be able to have four wives?
That’s what a federal lawsuit going on in Utah claims. (My earlier coverage is here.) And it’s based on the same 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas, that every argument for same-sex marriage – as well as a handful of court decisions – have used for justification. Lawrence, as you may recall, threw out a Texas criminal sodomy statute as an unconstitutional violation of the “right of privacy,” the same “right” that was also used in 1973 in Roe v. Wade to constitutionalize abortion.
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a Utah lawsuit (Brown v. Herbert) that claims that polygamy is a guaranteed privacy right under the U.S. Constitution. The most recent court order did not address the merits of the constitutional arguments involved in the claim, but only the technical issue of “standing,” which boils down to whether the challenger has really been “injured” in a constitutional sense, sufficient to invoke the authority of the courts to get involved in the dispute.
The polygamy case will now proceed to a trial or some other kind of decision on the merits of the case, but against the backdrop of several marriage-related cases that have already been appealed to (but not yet been accepted by) the Supreme Court. The upcoming term, starting on the first Monday in October, has the potential to be a marriage blockbuster. We’re waiting to hear if the high court will accept any of the following: the Hollingsworth v. Perry case (the California Marriage Amendment, a/k/a Prop 8), the federal Defense of Marriage Act appeals from the 1st, 2nd and 9th Circuits, and the Arizona state employee domestic partner benefit case entitled Brewer v. Diaz.
Although same-sex marriage advocates are fond of saying that this fundamental clash over the definition of marriage is all about them, it’s obvious that it’s not. Same-sex marriage is only the current issue. Polygamy, group marriage and who knows what else, are waiting in the wings.
Either marriage means what it’s always meant, or it will end up meaning whatever the next interest group wants it to mean.
And in the end, it will have no meaning at all.