Last edited: December 02, 2003

Polygamist’s Appeal Based on Supreme Court Gay Ruling, December 2, 2003

By 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 question.

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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