SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Final arguments in the so-called Sister Wives lawsuit were heard Thursday in U.S. District Court. The family, featured in the TLC reality TV series, claims Utah’s statute making plural marriage a crime is unconstitutional.
The state’s attorney told ABC 4 the law is constitutional. “The ad hoc polygamy statute deals with more than consenting adults,” said Jerrold Jensen, Asst. Attorney General. “Anytime you have a polygamous unit you tend to have children, children become a part of the equation.”
The judge did not issue a ruling only saying he hopes to soon.
The Browns are already claiming some success in court by just being able to get the lawsuit heard in front of a judge without first being prosecuted for polygamy.
The family moved to Nevada in 2010 after the Utah County attorney launched an investigation into whether the Browns were breaking the law. No charges were ever filed.
But the family's attorney says the Browns want the right to maintain their own family and faith without threat of prosecution. “What the Browns are seeking is what most families take for granted that they believe they can order their personal lives to their views, their beliefs, their values,” said Jonathan Turley, the Browns attorney.
Just before the hearing a small group of women opposed to polygamy gathered in front of the courthouse.
The head of one group called Sound Choices Coalition, is a former polygamist wife who is concerned about "pro-polygamy" media coverage by the Browns and wants to send a message that polygamy is harmful.
The children are taught that yeah they have a choice-- the choice is you choose not to do it you are going to lose your salvation, you’re not going to get your family, you’re going to be damned to hell,” said Kristyn Decker.
Kody Brown, nor any of his wives, appeared in court. In an online statement, Kody Brown wrote, “We hope that Utahans can understand that our family – like tens of thousands in this state – are seeking only to be allowed to live according to our beliefs and not be declared felons simply because we are different.”