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'SISTER WIVES:' Part of Utah's ban on polygamy struck down

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A lawsuit was brought by the characters of the television reality series "Sister Wives" has struck down part of the State of Utah's anti-polygamy law. The ruling late last week by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups threw out the law's section prohibiting "cohabitation," on the basis that it goes against constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Judge Waddoups did say he would keep in place the ban on bigamy "in the literal sense -- the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses for the purpose of entering into more than one purportedly legal marriage."

The Supreme Court had earlier struck down a separate federal law that defined marriage as between only one man and one woman. This was seen as a victory for homosexual couples seeking recognition of their same-sex unions.

The recent 91-page decision comes nearly two years ago after being filed by Kody Brown, a Utah resident and his four wives -- Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn. The group has 17 children, and has been the subject of the TLC cable television "Sister Wives" program.

Members of a fundamentalist branch of the Mormon Church known as the Apostolic United Brethren Church, the group claims that their privacy rights were being violated by the decades-old law. The law was originally passed around the time Utah became a state.

In a statement, Brown and his family said they were grateful for the ruling.

"Many people do not approve of plural families," he said, but "we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs."

The ruling was met with criticism from some religious groups. "This is what happens when marriage becomes about the emotional and sexual wants of adults, divorced from the needs of children for a mother and a father committed to each other for life," Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention says.

"Polygamy was outlawed in this country because it was demonstrated, again and again, to hurt women and children. Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing."

There was no initial reaction to the ruling from Utah officials, but they are expected to appeal. The case is Brown v. Buhman (2:11-cv-652).



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