By Tim Peacock
Yesterday the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) issued a scathing rebuke of last Friday's federal court decision that repealed a portion of the Utah law outlawing polygamy. Arguing that the decision relied on same sex marriage to legalize polygamy, NOM completely misconstrued the actual decision from the actual ruling to the legal precedents used to reach those conclusions. According to NOM:
"The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today condemned the December 13th decision by a federal district court judge to strike down Utah's polygamy ban as unconstitutional. While the decision in Brown v. Buhman by U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups on Friday stops short of mandating legally-enforceable plural marriages, it relies on a line of reasoning utilized to impose same-sex marriage to require the state to allow polygamous "spiritual marriages" and "religious cohabitation" and ultimately tees up the issue for the US Supreme Court to further redefine marriage. The case stems from the relationship of "Sister Wives" who claim "marriage" to a single husband and are featured on a prominent cable television network."
In reality, the polygamy ban was not completely abolished; the court only ruled on the section relating to cohabitation of multiple partners. The court specifically ruled that they were not changing the law as it pertained to individuals obtaining multiple concurrent marriage licenses (AKA polygamous marriage). But NOM's misplaced outrage didn't end with overstating the end-game of the ruling. The reasoning behind the decision had nothing to do with same sex marriage either.
In fact, the only LGBT-related legal precedent the court referenced was Lawrence v. Texas - a case that dealt with privacy, not marriage. The court never once referenced a single same sex marriage legal precedent in ruling against the stringent Utah cohabitation law.
"This decision is the next step along the path blazed by same-sex marriage advocates who have convinced federal judges to transform the societal norm of marriage as the union of one man and one woman designed primarily for the benefit of any children produced of their union into an institution that recognizes intimate, romantic relationships between consenting adults," said NOM president Brian Brown in the statement. "For years, we have warned of the importance of preserving the norms of marriage and its definition as the union of one man and one woman. Now we see the next step in the path of consequences for abandoning those norms. Left on its current course, in a few years marriage could be unrecognizable."
Where exactly have we "traditionally" required couples getting married to procreate? (We don't - otherwise senior citizens and infertile heterosexual couples would additionally be barred from the institution.) But don't let Brown confuse the situation - his "traditional" definition of marriage never existed in a legal sense. He (and many other fundamentalist Christians) despise the notion that another religion may have differing ideals on what constitutes a family. After all, the Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom only applies to one sect Christianity, right?
Brown wasn't the only one to misinterpret and misstate the Utah case, either. Breitbart's headline after the ruling inaccurately stated "Judge Cites Same-Sex Marriage in Declaring Polygamy Ban Unconstitutional." But what are a few facts when your own religious freedom is "under attack" by the religious freedoms of another set of people who believe and live differently from you? After all, of what use is religious freedom if you can't impose your ideals on others who believe differently?