BILLINGS – A Lockwood family that looked to solidify marriage rights of its own after gay marriage became legal in 2015 do not have standing to challenge Montana’s criminal bigamy laws, a federal judge ruled Monday in Helena.
Nathan, Vicki, and Christine Collier sought to legalize their plural marriage. Nathan and Vicki married in 2000.
“We just want to add legal legitimacy to an already happy, strong, loving family,” Nathan said to Q2 News in 2015. “We’re not even asking for acceptance. We’re just asking for tolerance. Let us live our lives together without fear.”
In 2015, the Colliers were denied a marriage license by Yellowstone County when Nathan Collier, who is legally married to Vicki Collier, wanted to legalize his domestic partnership with Christine Parkinson Collier.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan said in a decision the Colliers failed to provide any evidence she is suffering a constitutionally-recognized injury to that relationship.
The court found the state has not interfered in the Colliers’ way of life, and the Colliers have not violated any laws. It also recognized The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of anti-polygamy laws in 1878, which is still followed by courts today.
Cavan’s findings and recommendations were backed by U.S. District Court Judge Susan P. Watters.
Following the U.S. District Court’s ruling, Attorney General Tim Fox stated in a press release, “Polygamous marriages are illegal across the country, and Montana is no exception. This ruling upholds the institution of marriage as a legal union between two people.”
Fox went on to thank Deputy Attorney General Melissa Schlichting and Assistant Attorney General Pat Risken for their diligent work on the case over the past three years.
Reporting by Dustin Klemann for MTN News