SISTER WIVES vs BIGAMY LAW; LEGALIZE ALL PLURAL MARRIAGES
- SISTER WIVES vs BIGAMY LAW; LEGALIZE ALL PLURAL MARRIAGES
AP) SALT LAKE CITY A polygamous family made famous by the reality TV show
"Sister Wives" plans to challenge the Utah bigamy law that makes their lifestyle
illegal, a Washington-based attorney said Tuesday.
In an email to The Associated Press, attorney Jonathan Turley said he will file
the lawsuit challenging Utah's bigamy law in Salt Lake City's U.S. District
Court on Wednesday.
Turley represents Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and
Robyn. Brown is only legally married to Meri Brown.
Originally from Lehi, the Browns, who have 16 children, has been featured on the
TLC reality show since last fall. They moved out of Utah to Nevada in January
after police and Utah County prosecutors launched a bigamy investigation. No
charges were ever filed.
The Browns practice polygamy as part of their religious beliefs.
Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah. A person can be found guilty of bigamy
through cohabitation, not just legal marriage contracts.
In a statement posted on his blog, Turley said the lawsuit will challenge Utah's
right to prosecute people for their private relationships.
"We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. We are only
challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private
relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their
lives according to their own beliefs," the statement reads.
According to the statement, the lawsuit seeks to protect a person's right to be
"In that sense, it is a challenge designed to benefit not just polygamists but
all citizens who wish to live their lives according to their own values even
if those values run counter to those of the majority in the state," Turley
Turley said he believes the case represents the "strongest factual and legal
basis for a challenge to the criminalization of polygamy" ever filed in the
federal Turley said he believes the case represents the "strongest factual and
legal basis for a challenge to the criminalization of polygamy" ever filed in
the federal courts.
Utah has not prosecuted a polygamist for bigamy since 2001. Tom Green, who was
married to five women and drew the attention of Utah authorities after promoting
his lifestyle on national TV talk shows, was convicted on bigamy, criminal
nonsupport and child rape charges. He spent six years in prison and was released
Polygamy in Utah and across the Intermountain West is a legacy of the early
teachings of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. Mormons abandoned the practice of plural marriage in the 1890s as a
condition of Utah's statehood.
An estimated 38,000 self-described Mormon fundamentalists continue the practice,
believing it brings exaltation in heaven. Most keep their way of life a secret
out of fear of prosecution, although over the past 10 years an advocacy group
made up mostly polygamous women has worked to educate the public and state
agencies in Utah and Arizona about the culture.
The Browns have long said they believed making their life public on cable
television was a risk worth taking if it helped advance the broader
understanding of plural families. The lawsuit appears to be an extension of that
"There are tens of thousands of plural families in Utah and other states. We are
one of those families. We only wish to live our private lives according our
beliefs," Kody Brown said in a statement released through Turley. "While we
understand that this may be a long struggle in court, it has already been a long
struggle for my family and other plural families to end the stereotypes and
unfair treatment given consensual polygamy."
OUR TURN: POLYS WANT LEGAL MARRIAGE RIGHTS TOO by Janet Kira Lessin,
Chief Focalizer, World Polyamory Association www.worldpolyamoryassociation.com janetlessin@...
I saw a youtube of Obama at the LGBT Reception. He now mandates hospitals that
get Medicare and Medicaid give same-sex partners hospital access.
Over the past few years partners and children of same-sex couples were denied
hospital access. In one incident the hospital kept the mate and shared children
from the loved one before she died. How sad. My heart goes out to that family
that had to experience such pain, such suffering and I wonder why, how could we,
as a society, let such things happen.
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I heard the Prez tell gay and lesbian partners
they have hospital visitation rights. And more: SAME-SEX PARTNERS AND THEIR
CHILDREN GET THE SAME HEALTH, INSURANCE, MEDICAL BENEFITS AS HETEROSEXUAL
The military policy of don't ask don't tell is gone. The defense of marriage act
Next, of course, is the slippery slope of POLYAMORY. It's logical, fair, right,
necessary and inevitable. Yes, it's time. Let's take on the next hurdle. Time
for equality for all. Polyamory, here we come!
Legal polyamorous marriage in next in line of expanding personal freedom. The
GLBT movement created civil rights freedom for millions of people actively
living the alternative lifestyles and for their friends and families who were
affected by shame, criticism, prejudice and judgment over gender-orientation. I
envision society that celebrates all loving relationships. We still have a long
way to go before everyone experiences freedom and opportunity. But maybe New
York's legalizing same-sex marriage tips, for the U.S. , the balance toward
justice, fairness and respect rather than injustice, unfairness and disrespect
for consciousness. Time to revisit same sex marriages in California and other
states, including my home state of Hawaii.
When I moved to Hawaii in 1993, we voted for same-sex marriages but the Fundis
from all over poured money to anti-gay and conservative groups who turned out in
force and outvoted us. In '93 too a group of friends and I created Pali Paths, a
polyamory discussion group that met and still meets Thursdays at the Unitarian
Church on Pali Highway. We were so hidden back then that we used the play on
words, Pali and poly to cryptically convey our out-of-the-box polyamorous
intentions. Congratulations. Our efforts, all of us (and you know who you are)
paid off. Now polyamory is known world wide. I just now googled polyamory and
there are about 1,890,000 results. We've made a lot of progress yet we have a
long way to go.
The GLBT movement gained momentum, support and civil rights not only by those
who lived the lifestyle, but their families and friends who supported them and
their freedom of choice. It's been a long, hard road. We've been fighting
racism, bigotry, hate, prejudice all along. Now we need to support freedom,
civil rights and gather around and support the LGBT and POLYAMORY movements. All
have the right to freedom of choice, freedom to be who they truly are. Speak up
for freedom--not only liberty, justice, freedom of religion and freedom from
slavery, bondage, suffering and war--but also freedom for each of us to choose
relationships, love and sexuality so we can get real, down, dirty and honest and
be who we truly are. We now live in a world where many have the freedom to chose
sexual orientations, relationship styles, who we live with love, marry, divorce,
have sex with and we can even chose to change our gender. Cher's daughter
(Chastity) is now her son (Chas). Gay marriage is legal in Canada and many
states. Canada's leading the way to debate legalization of multiple marriage
(polygamy and now polyamory's been brought up).
Many fear freedom of choice will kill monogamy. Nonsense. If society legalizes
polyamory, monogamy will survive too. Heterosexuality didn't disappear just
because some openly declare themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual. We must respect
our own consciousness, live from our personal preferences at particular moments
in time as we grow. Support relationship choice. Support sexual orientation and
gender choice. The choice movement minimizes drama, trauma and pain for all when
we're all free to be who we are and are no longer subjected to guilt, shame,
blame, insults, rejection, prejudice and hate just for being true to ourselves.
We're no longer victims bound by societal "norms", subject to circumstances of
birth, family, religion, culture, society and even our own programming. The
cosmic egg has cracked. Thoughts, ideas formerly unspoken are now out of the box
and bantered around the net.
worldpolyamory@..., janetlessin@... sashalessinphd@...