Several hundred people took over the front steps of Utah’s capitol on Friday in protest against last month’s refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that would challenge a bigamy law in the state.
The case concerns the family from the show “Sister Wives” which airs on TLC.
It was the family’s case that sought to challenge the bigamy laws in Utah which the Supreme Court refused to hear.
The several hundred protesters were holding signs with different slogans all pertaining to the right of an individual to make his or her own decisions and be allowed to practice plural marriages.
Kody Brown of Sister Wives and one of his wives were in attendance.
According to The Daily Mail, “Utah’s present polygamy law forbids married people from living with an extra spouse or claiming to have a second purported ‘spiritual spouse.'”
Joe Darger of the Darger family, who has three wives, commented, “I am not a criminal. If you commit adultery, that’s not a felony. It’s only a crime when you have a family and you pretend to be married.”
Utah state legislators want to make changes to the present bigamy law that would find anyone convicted under it facing harsher penalties if also convicted of other crimes such as domestic abuse.
The sponsor of this change, Rep. Mike Noel (R-Utah) of Kanab, said other changes in his proposal would help the law withstand any future court challenge.
Noel’s bill would make it a crime only if someone lives with and claims they have another spouse.
Rep. Noel held a news conference to defend his bill, stating, “The plural relationships hurt women and children.” He added, “The closed communities where polygamy is practiced can be rife with welfare fraud and child abuse, sexual abuse and forced labor.”
Noel’s bill would also look to protect anyone who leaves a polygamous relationship from prosecution. It has already been approved by a Utah House committee and is awaiting a House of Representatives vote.
Prosecutors do not usually go after polygamists alone; only 10 people have been charged with violating the law during the period from 2001 to 2011.
According to court documents, there are presently 30,000 polygamists in Utah.
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