Mormon court case: If gays can marry, why can’t men have four wives?

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The stars of reality TV show Sister Wives are arguing that the Supreme Court verdict on same-sex marriage allows them to marry.

As is common in some Mormon sects, Utah-based Kody Brown has four ‘wives’ – Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn.

He is legally married to Meri – and does not have legal recognition for his other three weddings.

The family has fought a case arguing that Utah’s laws banning polygamy are unconstitutional – and in court documents this week, their attorney compared the case to equal marriage.

Filing a case with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, attorney Jonathan Turley argued: “The Browns were investigated and no crimes or harm was found in their plural family.

“From the rejection of morality legislation in [striking down sodomy laws] to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in [the case of same-sex marriage] it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to coerce or punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions.

“This case is about criminalization of consensual relations and there are 21st century cases rather than 19th century cases that control.

He continued: “From the very outset of the case, the Brown family maintained that it was not challenging the right of any state to criminalize bigamy or the possession of multiple state marriage licenses by individuals.

“The Browns also consistently asserted that they were not arguing for the state recognition of plural marriage.

“By only striking the cohabitation provision, the District Court left Utah with the same law maintained by most states in the Union prohibiting bigamy.

“What was lost to the state is precisely what is denied to all states: the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens.”

The President of Kenya legalised polygamy for straight men earlier this year, allowing men to have several wives – while continuing to criminalise gay sex.