The Sister Wives polygamy ruling in Utah is being reviewed by a federal appeals court. As previously reported by the Inquistir, the Utah polygamy ruling in a lower court was heralded as a landmark decision by plural marriage families living in the state.
The battle is not over for the Sister Wives cast though. Utah’s attorney general’s office filed an appeal to the anti-polygamy law ruling in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday. The legal maneuvering came just two weeks after the attorney general’s office announced intentions to challenge the Utah polygamy decision.
Last December U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled in favor of the TLC Sister Wives reality show cast. Kody Brown is married to four women, one legally and the other three are deemed “spiritual wives” even though they all share the Brown last name. Kody Brown and his four wives maintained that a provision in the Utah polygamy law that forbid cohabitation tramples upon the family’s freedom of religion.
The Utah polygamy ruling by Judge Waddoups decriminalized polygamy but not bigamy. If the lower court ruling withstands the appeal process, the law in Utah would mirror that of most other states. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ chief of staff Parker Douglas told the media that the state is appealing the Sister Wives ruling to make sure prosecutors are not “hamstrung” when the need arises to investigate polygamous families in potential abuse cases.
“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,” Douglas said. “When you have people who may be vulnerable, the state has a responsibility to make sure that its citizens are safe,” the attorney general’s office staffer concluded. Critics of the Utah polygamy appeal are quick to point out that potential child abuse and domestic violence also occur frequently in traditional marriages and in the homes of single moms.
Douglas also maintained that the attorney general’s office is currently investigating several potential abuse cases in polygamous families and if the ruling stands, it would be more difficult to prove a man has multiple spouses. Kody Brown and his wives filed their lawsuit in 2011 before fleeing Utah for Las Vegas due to alleged threats of polygamy prosecution.
Legal briefs in the Sister Wives polygamy appeal case are expected by December and oral arguments are slated to begin next spring.
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[Image via: Crushable]