Will polygamy soon be legal in Utah? The stars of Sister Wives are pushing for an appeals court in the state to stand behind a ruling they feel basically “decriminalized” polygamy and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) practice of plural marriage.
Sister Wives stars, Kody Brown and his four wives, Christine, Jangle, Robyn, and Meri, maintain in their lawsuit that the Utah polygamy ban infringes upon the constitutional rights of Americans to freely engage in their religion and the privacy rights of consenting adults in the state, MSN reports.
— Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) January 21, 2016
Kody Brown and his wives won a victory on the Utah polygamy battle in 2013. A U.S. District Court Judge ruled that a portion of the plural marriage state law also banned cohabitation between consenting adults and thus infringed upon freedom of religion rights. Although it is no longer against the law to purport to be married to more than one person in Utah, it remains illegal to garner a marriage license for more than one spouse.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office is appealing the 2013 ruling. State prosecutors have said they do not intend to prosecute Kody Brown and his sister wives but feel the polygamy ban should remain a part of the state revised code. The prosecution of FLDS followers engaged in the practice of plural marriage has not occurred in recent years when those involved are viewed as consenting adults that are otherwise law-abiding.
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) January 21, 2016
To prevent possible future crimes, such as underage marriage and exploiting taxpayer-funded government social programs, prosecutors want the Utah polygamy laws to remain active. Concerns that “societal harms” can stem from polygamy is a major motivating factor behind the Utah state appeal of the plural marriage ruling. As long as plural marriage remains a criminal offense, the prosecutors claim that they are better able to collect evidence about individual who are abusing the law, the Salt Lake City Tribune notes.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ Chief of Staff Parker Douglas had this to say about the Kody Brown polygamy court challenge
“The Browns don’t seem like the kind of situation that causes people too much pause. But there are other situations where there are multiple spouse arrangements where there is abuse. When you have people who may be vulnerable, the state has a responsibility to make sure that its citizens are safe.”
Kody Brown and his wives maintain that their Sister Wives reality show illustrates the loving and healthy nature of plural marriage and claim the lifestyle choice can be just as respectful and fulfilling as traditional marriage. Brown feels that keeping the Utah polygamy ban would only enhance the distrust of authority many FLDS members already feel. He also pointed out the law enforcement investigators already have other laws in place to protect potential victims of the list of other crimes mentioned by the attorney general’s office.
Mormons from the mainstream branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) ended the practice of polygamy in 1890. The hit HBO show Big Love frequently focused on the ongoing tensions the issue of plural marriage sparks between the FLDS and the LDS. There are approximately 30,000 polygamists in the state of Utah.
If the Utah polygamy case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, Kody Brown is hoping that a gay marriage dissenting opinion by John Roberts will play in his favor. The nation’s highest court has not heard a plural marriage case in more than a century.
Here’s an excerpt from the Justice Roberts dissenting opinion written after the 2015 gay marriage case.
“Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world.”
What do you think about the Sister Wives plural marriage case and the freedom of religion argument used to push for a Utah polygamy law change?
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