Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license

More People Support Polygamy Than Any Of The 2016 Republican Presidential Candidates



HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.

Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.

"It's about marriage equality," Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday. "You can't have this without polygamy."

County clerk officials initially denied Collier's application, then said they would consult with the county attorney's office before giving him a final answer, Collier said.

Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he is reviewing Montana's bigamy laws and expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week.

"I think he deserves an answer," Gillen said, but added his review is finding that "the law simply doesn't provide for that yet."

Pictures of polygamous relationships:

11 PHOTOS
Polygamous couples
See Gallery
Polygamous Montana trio applies for wedding license
***EXCLUSIVE*** HERRIMAN, UT - OCTOBER 2004: A collect photograph of Alina (L), 35, Valerie (M), 34 and Vicki (R), 34 during October 2004 in Herriman, Uttah. Beautiful twin sisters Vicki and Valerie Darger are so close they even share their HUSBAND. The 42-year-old sisters are in a polygamous marriage with Joe, 43, who is also married to a third woman - their COUSIN Alina, 43. The Dargers, who are fundamentalist Mormons from Salt Lake City, Utah, live together in a large family home and have 24 children between them. Vicki, currently a stay-at-home mum, has been married to Joe, who runs a construction company, for 22 years, while Valerie joined the family as his third wife in 2000. Brave Joe was just 18 when he began dating Vicki and her cousin Alina at the SAME TIME, and married at them in a joint wedding ceremony in 1990. Each wife has their own bedroom, and Joe alternates between the three of them each evening. The three wives and their husband have co-written a book 'Love Times Three', and some of their adult children also contributed to the story. PHOTOGRAPH BY Laurentiu Garofeanu / Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images
***EXCLUSIVE*** HERRIMAN, UT - FEBRUARY 1990: A collect wedding photograph of Vicki (L), Joe (R) and Alina's (R) marriage during February 1990 in Herriman, Uttah. Beautiful twin sisters Vicki and Valerie Darger are so close they even share their HUSBAND. The 42-year-old sisters are in a polygamous marriage with Joe, 43, who is also married to a third woman - their COUSIN Alina, 43. The Dargers, who are fundamentalist Mormons from Salt Lake City, Utah, live together in a large family home and have 24 children between them. Vicki, currently a stay-at-home mum, has been married to Joe, who runs a construction company, for 22 years, while Valerie joined the family as his third wife in 2000. Brave Joe was just 18 when he began dating Vicki and her cousin Alina at the SAME TIME, and married at them in a joint wedding ceremony in 1990. Each wife has their own bedroom, and Joe alternates between the three of them each evening. The three wives and their husband have co-written a book 'Love Times Three', and some of their adult children also contributed to the story. PHOTOGRAPH BY Laurentiu Garofeanu / Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images
NKANDLA, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 20: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) DJ Siyanda Tshabalala and his wife Millicent at the traditional wedding ceremony of President Jacob Zuma and Bongi Ngema on April 20, 2012 in Nkandla, South Africa. The president, who has been married six times, now has a total of four current wives. (Photo by City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - The Dargers, a polygamist family, discuss their lifestyle on 'Good Morning America,' 9/13/11, airing the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, JOE DARGER, ALINA DARGER, VICKI DARGER, VALERIE DARGER
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 13: (L-R) Janelle Brown, Meri Brown, Kody Brown and Christine Brown from 'Sister Wives' attend a pre-show reception for the grand opening of 'Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas' at the New Tropicana Las Vegas April 13, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for AEG Live)
PROVO, UNITED STATES: The five wives of polygamist Tom Green talk with reporters outside Fourth District Court after their husband was sentenced to two five-year concurrent prison terms 24 August 2001 in Provo, Utah. From left are: Shirley, Cari, Linda, Hannah and LeeAnn Green. AFP PHOTO/George FREY (Photo credit should read GEORGE FREY/AFP/Getty Images)
***EXCLUSIVE*** HERRIMAN, UT - MARCH 04: Twin wives Vicki (L), 41 and Valerie (R), 41 pose for a photograph on March 04, 2012 in Herriman, Uttah. Beautiful twin sisters Vicki and Valerie Darger are so close they even share their HUSBAND. The 42-year-old sisters are in a polygamous marriage with Joe, 43, who is also married to a third woman - their COUSIN Alina, 43. The Dargers, who are fundamentalist Mormons from Salt Lake City, Utah, live together in a large family home and have 24 children between them. Vicki, currently a stay-at-home mum, has been married to Joe, who runs a construction company, for 22 years, while Valerie joined the family as his third wife in 2000. Brave Joe was just 18 when he began dating Vicki and her cousin Alina at the SAME TIME, and married at them in a joint wedding ceremony in 1990. Each wife has their own bedroom, and Joe alternates between the three of them each evening. The three wives and their husband have co-written a book 'Love Times Three', and some of their adult children also contributed to the story. PHOTOGRAPH BY Laurentiu Garofeanu / Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images
NKANDLA, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 20: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Jabu Duze, Dudu Dlamini, Dr. Siphiwe Mndaweni, Samke Dube and Zama Nyawose at the traditional wedding ceremony of President Jacob Zuma and Bongi Ngema on April 20, 2012 in Nkandla, South Africa. The president, who has been married six times, now has a total of four current wives. (Photo by Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
SAfrica-politics-Zuma-polygamy,FOCUS by Manqoba Nxumalo A happy Robert Chauke (50) with his 6 wives and some of his children at his home in a small compound outside Johannesburg on April 18, 2012 he has 26 children. All of them, from his 10-week-old baby to his 28-year-old son, live together. 'I love all my wives. I can't attribute this success in raising such a huge family to anything. I guess it is a blessing from God,' the 50-year-old said smiling, flanked by his six wives, aged from 25 to 44. Families like Chauke's are back in South Africa's public debate, as President Jacob Zuma prepares to marry his long-time fiancee Bongi Ngema this weekend, giving the country four 'first' ladies. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - The Dargers, a polygamist family, discuss their lifestyle on 'Good Morning America,' 9/13/11, airing the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images) JOE DARGER, ALINA DARGER, VICKI DARGER, VALERIE DARGER
HILDALE, UT - FEBRUARY 24. EXCLUSIVE: L -R back row: Joanna Dockstader (19) Crista Henderson (22) Amanda Lebaron (23) Front row L - R: Tamera Barlow (36) Carol Zitting (28) Charise Tipson (37) at The Merry Wives Cafe on February 24, 2010, in Hildale, Utah. The Merry Wives Cafe in Hildale, Utah, is a unique place where tourists mingle with Mormon families and have a taste of the plural lifestyle. It was set up by Charise Dutson, 37, two years ago to provide a diner for local people, and show a friendly face of polygamy to the world. From the outside it looks like a normal roadside diner but the walls inside are covered with old photographs of men with many wives and scores of children. Visitors to the area stare in disbelief when a man arrives with three women who all kiss him and a mini-bus full of children who take over the cafe. Many customers come from nearby Centennial Park, a modern polygamist community built in the 1980's by a break-away group from the more old-fashioned Mormon Fundamentalist towns of Hildale and Colorado City, two miles away. (Photo by James Ambler / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The Supreme Court's ruling on Friday made gay marriages legal nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal argument that not having the opportunity to marry disrespects and subordinates them.

Related: See what some of the Supreme Court justices said in the dissent on the gay marriage ruling:
Hippies, Bigots, Polygamy: The Nastiest Gay Marriage Dissent Quotes

Collier, 46, said that dissent inspired him. He owns a refrigeration business in Billings and married Victoria, 40, in 2000. He and his second wife, Christine, had a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 but did not sign a marriage license to avoid bigamy charges, he said.

Collier said he is a former Mormon who was excommunicated for polygamy and now belongs to no religious organization. He said he and his wives hid their relationship for years, but became tired of hiding and went public by appearing on the reality cable television show "Sister Wives."

The three have seven children of their own and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," he said.

Collier said he sent an email asking the ACLU of Montana to represent him in a possible lawsuit. ACLU legal director Jim Taylor said he has not seen the request.

Taylor said he has no opinion on Collier's claims, though the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage "is about something very different."

Anne Wilde, a co-founder of the polygamy advocacy organization Principle Voices located in Utah, said Collier's application is the first she's heard of in the nation, and that most polygamous families in Utah are not seeking the right to have multiple marriage licenses.

Attitudes on Same-Sex Marriage by State | FindTheBest

"Ninety percent or more of the fundamentalist Mormons don't want it legalized, they want it decriminalized," Wilde said.

A federal judge struck down parts of Utah's anti-polygamy law two years ago, saying the law violated religious freedom by prohibiting cohabitation. Bigamy is still illegal.

The state has appealed the ruling, and the case is pending in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wilde said most polygamous families are satisfied with the judge's ruling and believe taking it further to include multiple marriage licenses would bring them under the unwanted jurisdiction of the government.

But she said the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage should strengthen their chance of winning the appeal.

"We hope the Supreme Court decision will show the direction the nation is going," she said. "It's more liberal, it's more understanding about people forming the families the way they want."

Read Full Story