Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Antiequality Discrimination Hurts

The Browns, the polygynous family documented in the TLC show “Sister Wives," told a federal judge about the harms they have suffered as a result of discrimination.

Kody Brown and his wives wrote in new court papers that they've lost jobs, were forced to move to Nevada and suffered harm to their reputations after police launched an investigation last year after the fall 2010 launch of their TLC show.

In July, Brown and wives Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robin, filed a lawsuit challenging Utah's bigamy law in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court. They contended that the law is unconstitutional and unfairly applied to polygamists.

"Because the Browns are open about their polygamist lifestyle, the criminal bigamy statute has the effect of publicly labeling them as presumptive felons," the Brown's Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Jonathan Turley, wrote in court papers filed Monday. "The statute further brands them as immoral and societal outsiders."

Not only is their right to marry denied, but their freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association have been attacked. They’ve suffered financially. Their children have been bullied. Laws denying marriage equality create such an environment.

Under Utah law, it is illegal for unmarried persons to cohabitate, or "purport" to be married. A person is also guilty of bigamy if they hold multiple legal marriage licenses.

The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in state prison. Both men and women can be prosecuted under the law, which also applies to unmarried, monogamous couples that live together.

Ridiculous. An adult should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage with any consenting adults. We need full marriage equality sooner rather than later.
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