Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Texas Anti-marriage Law Challenged

The Browns are challenging the Utah law against the polygamous freedom of association, but there’s also a challenge to Texas’ bigamy law.

Unlike other Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints men charged in Texas, 70-year-old Wendell Nielsen is not accused of marrying underage girls. Instead, the three felony bigamy charges against him are focused on women ages 66, 56 and 43.

In newly filed court documents in Schleicher County, Nielsen’s attorneys argue that the law unfairly targets groups with a religious belief in plural marriage. They quote a landmark decision that struck down the state’s sodomy law,
Lawrence v. Texas.

"The bigamy statute appears to be nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to ‘use the power of the state to enforce [majority views regarding morality] on the whole society through the operation of criminal law’ and as such cannot survive even minimal scrutiny," according to a motion to quash Nielsen’s indictment filed this week.

The more people think it through, the more they realize how ridiculous it is to try to stop consenting adults from having relationships. And when they think it through more, they also realize it is unfair to deny the freedom to marry.

In a separate argument, Nielsen’s attorneys claimed the bigamy law is unfairly enforced and unconstitutional because it applies only to certain groups.

The law, for example, would not apply to three women living together who consider themselves married, or three men in the same situation, attorneys wrote, because marriage in Texas can only be between a man and a woman, and the bigamy statute requires that the accused is legally married to one person.

Let’s make it simple by recognizing that an adult should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage with any consenting adults. State lawmakers could save everyone so much trouble and free up the courts by supporting these basic human rights instead of trying to punish people on an arbitrary basis over the person or persons they love. Yes, some bigots will cry. They'll get over it, just like they got over desegregation.
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