Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled against federal and state laws that give a wife fewer rights than a husband merely because of her sex, just as does a law permitting a husband to practice polygamy. Whether the law is so explicit that it makes the husband “head and master” of the home with the sole right to control property (Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455 (1981)) or denies a wife benefits awarded automatically to a husband, such as welfare benefits if the wife is unemployed (Califano v. Westcott, 443 U.S. 76 (1979)), housing and medical benefits for the wife’s spouse (Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973)), child-care benefits for a surviving spouse (Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975)), or self-care benefits for a surviving spouse (Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199 (1977), and Wengler v. Druggists Mutual Insurance Company, 446 U.S. 142 (1980)), the Court has found violations of the Equal Protection Clause. Even when the rule discriminated against husbands, as in a state law requiring only husbands to pay alimony (Orr v. Orr, 440 U.S. 268 (1979)), the Court has required equality for husband and wife.
Should Polygamy Be Permitted in the United States? | Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities