A Montana man is threatening to sue the state if it rejects an application for the right to legally marry his second wife.
Nathan Collier handed in his application at Yellowstone County Courthouse on Tuesday along with his second wife, Christine. They had a wedding ceremony in 2007 but did not sign a marriage document. Nathan married his first wife, Victoria, in 2000.
“It’s about marriage equality,” Nathan said to The Associated Press. “You can’t have this without polygamy.”
Initially, officials tried to reject the application outright.
“We'll have to deny that ... as far as I'm aware you can't be married to two people at the same time,” a clerk said, according to MTN News.
The potential lawsuit prompted officials at the courthouse to advise Collier that they would consult the state’s Attorney General’s office before providing him with a final decision.
“We just want to add legal legitimacy to an already happy, strong, loving family,” Nathan said afterwards.
An official decision on the application is yet to be made.
“It's two distinct marriages, it's two distinct unions, and for us to come together and create family, what's wrong with that?” Christine said. “I don't understand why it's looked upon and frowned upon as being obscene.”
Anne Wilde, co-founder of the Utah-based polygamy advocacy group Principle Voices, said that Collier’s application was the first of its kind to her knowledge.
“We hope the Supreme Court decision will show the direction the nation is going,” Wilde told The Associated Press. “It’s more liberal, it’s more understanding about people forming the families the way they want.”
She noted that many polygamous families in Utah were not so keen on the idea of legalization.
“Ninety percent or more of the fundamentalist Mormons don’t want it legalized; they want it decriminalized,” she said.
Nathan has reportedly requested representation from the Montana division of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We just want to give our marriage and our family the legitimacy that it deserves,” Nathan told MTN News.