Federal Judge Declares Utah Polygamy Law Unconstitutional
Utah’s anti-polygamy law is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled this week. State Attorney General Sean Reyes has already said that he plans to appeal the decision.
In December, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups said that the state could keep the ban, but would not be allowed to arrest people who violate it by living together in common-law marriage situations. This week Waddoups followed that decision with a ruling that the state had violated the religious, free speech, and due process rights of the plaintiffs. The state also owes them court fees, said Waddoups.
The plaintiffs are Kody Brown, star of the TLC reality series Sister Wives, his legal wife Meri, and three other women — Janelle, Christine, and Robyn — who claim to be three other wives of Brown. The four have 17 children.
The Browns sued the state of Utah in 2011 after the show appeared on the air because their now-public lifestyle broke state law, and a county prosecutor threatened charges. They moved to Las Vegas that same year to avoid prosecution.
In a statement, the family’s lawyer said that the ruling was “historic,” and he believed “will stand the test of time.”
As LifeSiteNews reported last year, Waddoups’ decision may have significant consequences for decreasing equality in marriage and society at large, not increasing it. As Dr. Jennifer Morse of the Ruth Institute said, the December “ruling confuses the private desires of individuals with the institution of marriage as a whole.”
“I have no doubt that these individual women and Mr. Brown are living this plural marriage lifestyle voluntarily,” said Morse. “What I dispute is that they are the only ones affected by changing the law to permit plural cohabitation or plural marriage.”
“Polygamous societies look very different from monogamous societies,” she explained. “In polygamous societies, wealthy men are at a huge competitive advantage over men of average means. The wealthy men, in effect, take more than their share of women. This triggers a whole series of reactions. The society begins to sanction the marriage of younger and younger women, sometimes no more than girls, to satisfy the demand for brides. The men grow more and more possessive and treat women more like possessions and less like people.”