Salt Lake City (ABC 4 News) For years - their polygamous life was more or less a secret. But a few months ago that changed with a book about their lives - Love Times Three - and several television appearances, including one on ABC 4's Good Morning Utah and another on ABC's Good Morning America.
We wanted to find out how "coming out" has changed things for Joe, Alina, Valerie, Vickie and their children so, we went to visit with the family at their Herriman home.
Don: "Since you went on television and went public, what has changed?"
Alina: "I had some people come up and say wow - I never knew." "We've had a lot of people from all over the country reach out and identify with us and just say this is a different side of polygamy that I didn't know existed."
Joe: "Its been very liberating for me."
Vickie: "Some of the moms have come up and said, I think its great and I support you and I dont have any problem with your lifestyle. I feel like it has been mostly positive."
That "lifestyle" happens in a Herriman home. Joe, Alina, Valerie, Vickie and 18 of their 24 children live here. And, they say it is just an ordinary, yet large, "house." Joe says, "We don't live on a compound. It just gets called a compound because we are polygamist."
The Darger's went public, back in September, when they released the book Love Times Three and then went on several television shows - including ABC 4's Good Morning Utah and Good Morning America. And while they say most of the reaction has been positive - there has been a negative side as well.
Don: "Have you lost clients or customers since this changed."
Joe: "We had a person write a comment in the paper, oh, I know him and I will never do business with him again."
"Its hard to know if that is the reason why. But certainly people have treated me differently."
And then there are the kid's lives. Sharing their plural marriage with the world and their own community has been good and bad for their pre-teens and teenage children. Alina says, "We've had a little bit of cyber bullying of one child." Vickie says, "My daughter has gotten to the point to say, watch 20/20 tonight - its going to be on. She is proud of it and at the same time fearful."
The Darger's say they went public to change the stereotypes of plural marriage - like the ones we see of Warren Jeffs and the FLDS. Joe says, "That image is so strong. And it's a negative image that resonates with people."
They want people to know - this not just about sex - but something sacred and part of their religion. Valerie says, "Its about creating a family which is what we have done."
And while they say sharing their life has helped raise awareness of plural marriage and opened eyes - their goal is acceptance and tolerance down the road. Joe says, "It is going to take more families and more people like us to step forward for sure."Additional Web Only information:
During our interview with the Darger's - Joe told us that people with questions should just approach him and he said, "Were a lot more a like than we are different. And that is true for the whole human experience."
Valerie talked more about her children and hopes that someday "if they choose" a plural marriage lifestyle "they will have the ability to do so without persecution without prosecution and without worry and fear."
The Dargers call themselves Fundamentalist Mormons or "Orthodox Mormons." They say they follow the Mormon doctrine and "plural marriage is a tenet of that religion."http://www.lovetimesthree.comOn Facebook - just search: The Darger Family - http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheDargers