Monday, March 14, 2011

The Browns Are Doing Some Good

Here’s another take on the family featured in “Sister Wives,” this time by Joyce C. Tang. Looks like the series is doing some good.

Polygamy aside, the Brown clan looks no different from your average Mormon—or Midwestern—family. They wear jeans and T-shirts (no Temple garments required) and have modern haircuts. Their kids are allowed to watch television, surf the Internet, and play video games, and some have attended public schools. And with boyish Kody as the patriarch, the Browns are a far cry from the terrifying images broadcast during the 2008 raids on Warren Jeffs’ Yearning For Zion ranch in Texas.

At 32, Robyn is the youngest wife to 40-year-old Kody. She and her “sister wives” are self-professed “outspoken” and “independent” women, and their brood of 16 children, currently being watched after by a team of grandmothers back in Nevada, appears happy and well-adjusted.

The more people see that nonmonogamous marriages can be good, the better.

“Our kids being able to be completely open has been liberating,” said Kody Brown.

Bigamy laws have meant that many polygamists grow up in hiding, with constant fear of being taken from their homes, losing their jobs, and being ostracized by their surrounding communities. Though Meri “felt very integrated into mainstream society” growing up as a polygamist Mormon, it was at the cost of “shar[ing] my whole truth,” she said.

The article gets into the family’s religion, though the family does not make their religion an issue in the show or the publicity for the show. Of the Apostolic United Brethren, which the article calls a splinter group of the LDS church…

Unlike the FLDS, Kingston, or LeBaron groups, which tend to be cloistered and abusive, the AUB, or as it's also known, the Allred group, aims to be more open to and integrated with mainstream society. In a 2008 public statement, the AUB outlined its disapproval of arranged or underage marriages and incest, discouraged members from government assistance, and claimed no affiliation with the FLDS.

I think the article may be broadbrushing in saying the groups cited “tend to be… abusive.”

Children are free to live a polygamist lifestyle once they’re older. Or not. One of the Browns’ own children—that is, one of Kody and Janelle’s children—has already decided she won’t, and that’s fine with her parents. Among the AUB, reported rates of child abuse are similar to those of monogamous communities, says Janet Bennion, a professor of anthropology at Lyndon State College who lived among Allreds to research her dissertation.

So there’s no boogeyman here.

Despite the bigamy investigation in Utah, it’s unlikely any charges will be brought against Kody, especially now that the family has relocated to Nevada. Paul Ryan, a spokesman from the Utah Attorney General’s office, told The Daily Beast that the office has “not focused on crimes involving consenting adults.”

They shouldn’t be crimes to begin with. Good for the AG of Utah.

The Brows should be able to get their marriage legally recognized. That would happen under full marriage equality.
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