Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Technicality Leaves Discriminatory Utah Law Intact For Now

Since the Browns of "Sister Wives" haven't yet been prosecuted under Utah's ridiculous law against polyfidelity (they fled to Nevada), the US Supreme Court isn't taking up their case. Here's the report from Nate Carlisle at

(Jerry Henkel   |   The Associated Press)   Kody Brown sits with his wives in July at one of their homes in Las Vegas. They are the polygamist family featured on TLC’s (Jerry Henkel | The Associated Press) Kody Brown sits with his wives in July at one of their homes in Las Vegas. They are the polygamist family featured on TLC’s "Sister Wives" program. Pictured are: top row, Janelle, left, and Christine; bottom row, Meri, left, Kody and Robyn.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear arguments from the husband and four wives who star in the television show “Sister Wives,” letting stand a lower court ruling that kept polygamy a crime in Utah.
The law needs to go, sooner rather than later. Until it is gone, people need to protect themselves, as ethical nonmonogamists should do anywhere.

Salt Lake County’s Darger family — husband Joe and wives Vicki, Valerie and Alina — on Twitter turned their attention to trying to remove the criminal penalties through the political process.

“Today is an Injustice to not be heard by SCOTUS,” the family tweeted on its account. “We suspect there will be many people everywhere demanding to be heard for Liberty.”
Keep fighting for equality.
Kristyn Decker, a former plural wife who runs an anti-polygamy group called Sound Choices Coalition, said she was grateful the Supreme Court won’t hear the case.
“Research (especially that done by Canada’s Supreme Court), proves that polygamy is inherently harmful to women, children and to Society as a whole,” Decker wrote in a statement.
There's that Discredited Argument #17. It's nonsense. There are abusive people who are polygynists, to be sure, but there are abusing people who are monogamists, too. Let consenting adult have the relationships to which they mutually agree. That's basic freedom of association.
But the Browns’ case was hampered by one problem — the Browns have never been prosecuted for bigamy.

They contended the law on the books and a 2010 investigation by Lehi police were enough to constitute discrimination. The bigamy statute, when read broadly, could be used to prosecute unmarried couples who live together. Yet the statute, which makes polygamy a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, has been used only to prosecute polygamists.
It's a bad law and it needs to go.
In December 2013, federal Judge Clark Waddoups sided with the Browns and struck down the portion of Utah’s bigamy statute focused on polygamy. (A portion dealing with having active, multiple marriage licenses remained.)
Last April, an appeals court in Denver overturned that ruling.
So that's the basic recap.
Janet Bennion, a professor of anthropology at Lyndon State College in Vermont who studies forms of marriage and supports the decriminalization of polygamy, framed the Supreme Court’s decision in a broader political context. There is a populist movement in the United States and many countries to expand the definition of marriage, and that movement will eventually succeed. But it is slowed, Bennion said, by governments that enforce the concept of a nuclear family.
“The reality is we are going to see an expansion of marriage,” Bennion said, “but not the protections they deserve.”
We demand that all consenting adults be free to have their relationships. Adults, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion should be free to live together, have sex, call each other partner/spouse/wife/husband, and to enter into whatever the law allows anyone else to enter (marriage, domestic partnership, civil union) with ANY and ALL consenting adults, without prosecution, bullying, or discrimination.
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  1. This is an obvious and cowardly retreat by those who oppose the freedom of association guaranteed in the Constitution. The next test will be to see if Utah prosecutes others under their law.

  2. I wonder if Utah accepts polygamous marriages made legally in another state. Australia does (apparently)

    > A marriage celebrated overseas will be recognised as valid in Australia if it was a valid marriage under local law. Even a polygamous marriage will be recognised provided it was legal in the place where it took place."

    Someone commented "Good idea. It will save tax payers money, because if wives two, three and four had children and were treated as unmarried they would have to be provided with unmarried mother benefits"
    So why not let someone who can afford to maintain another spouse other than their first so legally. It is cost effective:-)


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