Mississippi has been sued in the Northern District Federal Court by self-proclaimed polygamists and a machinist. (*A “machinist” sexually objectifies tools and/or implements). Federal Lawsuit re: Polygamy.
Polygamy, the practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time, made infamous by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and rooted in some Biblical precedent, is nonetheless unconstitutional.
Nearly 140 years ago Reynolds v. United States, (U.S. Sup. Ct. 1879), was decided and is still good law. Mr. Reynolds was convicted of bigamy, a crime in the territory of Utah, sentenced to two years hard labor and a $500 fine. At the trial, Mr. Reynolds sought to have a jury instruction that his religious belief allowed, or even required, multiple marriages at the same time and since he was practicing his religion he could not also be guilty of a crime, citing the First Amendment (freedom of religion).
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, “here, as a law…of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.“ Id. at 166-167.
- The bottom line in Reynolds is you can believe what you want, but you may not be able to practice, affirmatively, what you believe.
Fast forward to 2017, the now-pending lawsuit in Mississippi is seeking to prevent gay marriages, raising the constitutional Lemon Test of prohibition on government favoring one religious view over another.
The Plaintiffs argue that if gay marriage is legal, then polygamy marriage should be legal, as well as the right to marry things.
The Lemon Test details legislation concerning religion;
- The statute must have a secular legislative purpose. (Purpose Prong)
- The primary effect of the statute must not advance nor inhibit religion. (Effect Prong)
- The statute must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion. (Entanglement Prong)
- Character and purpose of institution benefited.
- Nature of aid the state provides.
- Resulting relationship between government and religious authority.
The above treats this lawsuit as something to consider, however, it is not. The Plaintiffs are not residents of Mississippi, though have visited. One Plaintiff married his computer in New Mexico and is now complaining because Mississippi won’t recognize it as a marriage. Another Plaintiff, not a resident of Mississippi, wants to marry multiple persons, also not residents from Mississippi, in Pontotoc, and was refused a license to marry multiple persons at the same time. One Plaintiff, not a Mississippi resident, was engaged to a man who was “mean to her,” so she chose to “self-identify as a lesbian and legally marriage (sic) a woman only to discover it was ‘hell on earth.’ She now self-identifies as a polygamists” and demands the Government and Mississippi recognize it.
This lawsuit is a farce. The arguments are nonsense. The Clarion-Ledger reporting this as if it is remotely newsworthy, which is how I viewed the article initially, is misleading.
This will be dismissed so fast he won’t have time to reboot his wife…er…computer.
Matthew Thompson is an attorney that did a face-palm when reading the actual complaint.