Polygamous Family Looks to Gay Rights for Lawsuit
BY Michelle Garcia
July 12 2011 2:30 PM ET
The polygamous family featured on the show Sister Wives on TLC is using a groundbreaking gay rights case to challenge Utah's antibigamy law.
Kody Brown is legally married to one wife, but three others are his "spiritual wives." However, state law establishes that married people cannot purport to marry or cohabit with another person, NPR reports. While the state of Utah is now considering whether to bring charges against them, the family has moved to Nevada, and is bringing their case to a federal court.
The Brown family, with four wives and 16 children, says the law is unconstitutional, and is using the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision, which officially decriminalized homosexuality in the United States.
"You can have multiple lovers; you can have adulterous affairs and not be subject to prosecution," the Browns' attorney, Jonathan Turley, said in the NPR report. "But the minute you refer to her as your spiritual wife, you become a potential criminal defendant."
Still, polygamy law expert Marci Hamilton said polygamous marriages tend to be bad for women and children. She said children of polygamous marriages are often treated as second-class citizens, and that individually, the wives are unequal to the husband in the relationship.
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