Polygamist’s Appeal Based on Supreme Court Gay Ruling
December 2, 2003
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Salt Lake City, Utah—In a case
that is being closely watched by gay civil rights advocates and conservative
Christians alike, the Utah Supreme Court is hearing a case that argues
polygamy is legal because of the US Supreme Court ruling on sodomy.
Tom Green, who has five wives, is appealing his multiple
convictions of polygamy. Green, who is not affiliated with any church, was
convicted of four counts of bigamy and one count of criminal nonsupport of his
30 children in August 2001.
Besides his five-year sentence, he faces up to life in
prison after being convicted of child rape for having sex with one of his five
wives when she was 13.
His lawyer, John Bucher, told the Utah Supreme Court the
US high court ruling that said what gay men and women do in the privacy of
their homes is no business of government extends to everyone, and that
includes people who practice polygamy.
“It doesn’t bother anyone, (and with) no compelling
state interest in what you do in your own home with consenting adults, you
should be allowed to do so,” Bucher said.
Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura Dupaix called on
the court to dismiss the appeal. Dupaix motion is based on Green’s failure
to raise the US Supreme Court issue at trial or anywhere else along the
judicial path until now.
“It’s not close to adequate,” Dupaix said
But later, Dupaix told reporters she believes the
argument could be used in other cases of polygamy. She cited the case of
Rodney Holm who has 21 children with three wives. He was convicted of bigamy
and unlawful sexual conduct with an underage girl in August and was sentenced
to a year in jail.
Holm’s appeal contends the U.S. Supreme Court decision
in the Texas case throws the constitutionality of Utah’s bigamy law into
Christian conservatives and some Republicans in Congress
have criticized the Supreme Court ruling saying it would lead to legalized gay
marriage and polygamy. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn) went one step further
saying it would also lead to incest. (story)
Polygamy was renounced by the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in 1890 as part of a deal to grant Utah statehood, and the
church now excommunicates those members who practice or advocate it.
Nevertheless, polygamy has an estimated 30,000 practitioners in the West.
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