Utah Lawmakers Ruling May Moot ‘Sister Wives’ Polygamy Lawsuit — Read New Update!

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Sister Wives Polygamy

There is bad news to report for the cast of the TLC show, Sister Wives, because the Utah House passed a bill Wednesday, to reinstall the state’s historical polygamy ban. House Bill 281 is being run in response to a lawsuit pending in federal court, by TV polygamist Kody Brown and his four wives. 

HB281’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab said his bill would alter Utah’s anti-bigamy law, by making it a crime again. The action would effectively moot  Brown v. Buhman, the “Sister Wives” case, pending before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The bill “recriminalizes” polygamy, making it a misdemeanor.

Kody Brown and his harem sued the state over the ban on polygamy, and won the first leg, with a federal judge striking down part of the ban. The action made it no longer a crime for people to cohabitate and call themselves “husband and wife #2,#3,#4 etc.—as long as multiple marriage licenses are not in play.

Lawmakers debated whether practicing polygamy should be set at a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction. Rep Tanner, whose great-grandfather had five wives, wanted the offense to be dropped to the lowest possible.

“You can see what making it a felony has done. It has created these polygamous families which are like organized crime,” Republican State Rep. Earl Tanner said. “Why? Because we have made them all like criminals.”

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem responded, making his own amendment to bring polygamy back to a third-degree felony, with a prison term as a possible penalty. He argued that the discretion to drop the offense should sit with prosecutors, not the legislature. The debate was heated, but the bill passed on a 59-16 vote. Lawmakers argued Utah history, and also suggested that the LDS church did not support the decriminalization effort.

“Under Article 3 of our constitution, polygamists or plural marriage is forever prohibited, unchanged since 1896,” Republican State Rep. Lavar Christensen said.

“I cannot find a rational argument for felony,” Republican State Rep. Jake Anderegg said. “I get our history. I am not shying away from that argument. I understand the LDS church has concerns. So I’ve been told.”

The mainstream LDS church wants no association with polygamy — so I believe it’s safe to assume that they welcomed the ruling. Reps from Utah’s polygamist communities are disappointed, noting that they are “families not felons.”

The bill now goes to the Senate, for consideration — the 10th Circuit Court could rule any day. The State of Utah may have cut the pompous Kody Brown’s “freedom to love” crusade off at the pass. Stay tuned.


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