Potential Bigamy for Bisexuals

Let’s say I get married to another guy in California. Many states wouldn’t recognise that marriage, so; if I then marry a woman in one of those states, have I committed a crime?

I’d imagine I have in California (and other states that would recognise my first marriage) but it not being a federal issue (I think?) as long as I stay out of those states, i’m fine. Is that right? And I don’t think i’ve committed a crime at all in those states which don’t recognise that first marriage.

Marriage is a civil contract. It is either legally recognized and legally dissolved or it isn’t.

I thought Massachusetts was the only state the currently legally recognized single-sex marriage.

However, my understanding is that the Defense of Marriage Act put into federal law the provision that no other state has to recognize a single-sex marriage performed validly in another state. I don’t know if any state presently does recognize Massachusetts civil marriages.

That’d be a neat trick since California law prohibit same sex marriage.

Massachusetts, then. Sorry, i’m not entirely sure where I pulled California from.

Right. California doesn’t work for this hypothetical. Just for the sake of argument, let’s try MA.

Wait. First there is the issue of liability for attempted bigamy, which implicates the defense of legal mistake. I don’t have time to go into detail, but I did find this:

Kessler, Kimberly, Comment: The Role of Luck in the Criminal Law, 142 U. Pa. L. Rev. 2183 (1994).

But let’s assume that RT marries Phillip in MA. Then leaves him and moves to VA, where he marries Connie. Has he committed bigamy? What if instead of marrying Connie in VA, he stays in MA and marries her there?

I was going to say out of your ass, but I’m too mature for that joke.

The whole bisexual aspect seems somewhat irrelevant. I doubt the law would treat someone with spouses of two different genders in different states differently than someone with, say, two wives in different states.

But they don’t recognize the first marriage, so as far as the non-MA states are concerned, he wasn’t previously married.

What if RT divorces Phillip in MA, and then marries Connie in VA? This seems pretty far-fetched to me (it assumes that VA would consider a same-sex marriage valid based on its determination that a same-sex divorce was invalid), but:

Strasser, Mark, DOMA and the Two Faces of Federalism,
32 Creighton L. Rev. 457 (1998)

If he marries Connie in VA after marrying Phillip he hasn’t commited bigamy since VA defines marriage as between a man and a woman, therefore he is not married to Phillip. If he marries Connie in MA after marrying Phillip then he is commiting bigamy since MA law definces marriage as betweeb to people. The question is what happens if at some point after marrying Connie in VA same-sex marriage is legalized in VA.

And to throw another log on the fire, what if the OP entered into a civil union in Vermont, then without dissolving it married a woman in Virginia?

Or even more fun, what if the OP enters into a civil union in Vermont and without dissolving it marries a different man in MA? Or, what if he enters into a civil union in Vermont and, without dissolving it, enters into a domestic partnership in California with another man?

Well, almost:

If I read the news reports correctly, they’ve passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage, but


The legislature passed the amendment, but it won’t be final unless the voters approve it in November.


So, right result, wrong reason. The statute provides for this case. It says the MA marriage is “void in all respects in Virginia.” If the marriage is void, then it doesn’t count for bigamy.

What if he and Connie marry in VA and then move to MA?

A good question.

Or how about this: Say I am a transsexual woman, having gotten a court order changing my legal gender in Illinois. Subsequently I marry a man in Illinois. Then I light out to Texas, which does not recognize transsexuality and therefore considers me a man. I then marry a woman in Texas.

Texas recognizes the marriage to the woman, as I am legally a man; Illinois does not, as I am legally a woman and cannot marry a woman. Illinois recognizes the marriage to the man, as I am legally a woman, but Texas does not, as I am legally a man and cannot marry a man.

You people really ought to get this sorted out.

arrgg… what do they call it when there’s something that wasn’t illegal when you did it, but they just made it illegal, and they can’t prosecute you for having done it? That’s not likely to apply here because I don’t think it applies to continuing conditions (the example they used in social studies was swimming in a pond; it’s not legal any more, so if you do it again, they can charge you for it).

If Massachusetts doesn’t recognise transsexuality, I can have three partners concurrently completely legally. Anyone know if they do?

Could you spell out that scenario explicitly? If a transexual recognized in Illinois as a woman marries a man in Illinois, then even if Massachusets does not recognize transexuality, I would think that they would consider that person to be a man married to a man (which marriage would still be recognized, and would still be an impediment to any further marriage).

Ah, good point. I didn’t think through the who-recognises-what entirely. Damn, I guess i’m just limited to two, then. :stuck_out_tongue: