Judge in 'Sister Wives' case asks for definition of polygamy


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  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    Jan. 31, 2013 5:55 p.m.

    The Brown's should wise up and get of TV and out of the press. Being in the media is nothing but trouble.

  • mattrick78 Cedar City, UT
    Jan. 20, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    Ahhh...the paradox of prosecuting those who live in a polygamous marriage.

    How can you prosecute people under the law when under the law the man is only married to one woman?

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Jan. 19, 2013 8:01 p.m.

    Adultery is just as destructive to our society as it ever was. We, as a society have decided to accept it as a moral choice only involving the adults involved. We are wrong.

    Civil law may now allow immorality, but God still knows our society will fail unless we return to higher standards.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2013 6:36 p.m.

    Nrajr: “There are also other pre-twentieth century morality laws that forbid fornication, adultery, and sodomy on the books of Utah and other states...Jensen, and other prosecutors should be enforcing those other morality laws as well.”

    KJK: Sorry, but the Supreme Court's Lawrence vs. Texas decision outlawed bans on homosexuality and cohabittating. The above mentioned laws are invalid under Lawrence. The Browns might fall under it too. It's another proof that the law should only be used to punish objective harm rather than promote subjective religious/moral beliefs.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 19, 2013 2:31 p.m.

    The real issue here boils down to the purpose of laws. Should they punish harm or enforce subjective morality? If the latter, then there's no logical reason for 19th century LDS to complain about others banning polygamy. Our ancestors' claims of religious persecution mirror those of the Browns'. How can LDS today hypocritically oppose legalizing polygamy? Opposing polygamy because the Church doesn't currently practice it is no different than those who based their opposition to polygamy 150 years ago on their own religious beliefs. Scripture likewise condemns using subjective morals to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others (1 Cor. 10:29, D&C 134:4).

    If laws are to instead punish objective harm, we must ask who the Browns, as consenting adults, are harming? The kids aren't. They have multiple parental figures, at least one of whom stays at home for the kids. There are no risks to tax payers any more that a man who has one wife and three mistresses. They are happy to have the polygamous wives remain legally single women. They aren't asking for special rights.

    There is no logical reason to retain the ban on polygamy for consenting adults.

  • kfbob SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 19, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    So the Prosecutor thinks that it is not okay to have multiple cohabitating adults but sleeping with 10 different women and not committing to them is okay? Weak logic and arguments indeed.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Jan. 19, 2013 7:49 a.m.

    If the only argument that the state can come up with is that because they are poligs there may be child abuse means we don't have many deep thinkers in the AG's office. Waddups brought that point out.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 19, 2013 7:01 a.m.

    If a polygamous family is from a polygamous tradition that does indeed forces girls to marry and kicks young men out of the home at too young of an age, the state of Utah has a very valid point. Otherwise I see little difference between polgamy and consenting adults choosing to have multiple partners. Utah has laws against fornication and adultery.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Jan. 19, 2013 6:59 a.m.

    The standard now has become hundreds of sexual partners and kids with multiple partners, wedding optional.

    Pretty hard to convict someone of polygamy I would suppose.

  • BlueEyesBrittany Paris, 00
    Jan. 19, 2013 5:58 a.m.

    Looking at all the aspects of polygamy though, it still poses problems when it comes to sexual diseases, with HIV being the worse, if people break the rules of complete fidelity in the marraige arrangement, of inner breeding in the following generations, of the burden for the man to be able to provide for all the children ... or the man abusing the situation ....so all things should be discussed openly, problems tackled to ensure no one is hurt, abused or neglected, .. rules should be put in place and fully complied with (to reduce risks, harm, abuse, neglect and misery to a minimum) ... and limits drawn to men's desire to have more wives .... just for his lust

  • BlueEyesBrittany Paris, 00
    Jan. 19, 2013 5:27 a.m.


    I can see how it could work for the women, the men and the children ....; but to make polygamy legal is quite another matter ...

    I personnally would not marry anyone because as you said many men cheat on their wives ... so why would i take a chance on my health or have my heart broken ....

    Conclusion : though i would not prosecute this guy if everyone is happy with the arrangement and it is by common consent and all members are properly taken care of ... ..... i would still not make polygamy legal...

  • BlueEyesBrittany Paris, 00
    Jan. 19, 2013 5:27 a.m.

    Polygamy is a crime when it is forcesd by a religious system and the man can marry as many wives as he sees it fit ... sometimes up to over 40 ... and fathers hundred of children ... and the question of abuse, support, proper care, love and attention is raised as well as free will decision making.

    THis said if some people want to consensually marry a man like Kody and everyone is taken care for, provided for and no abuse happens .... i think it is their right as long as the number of women is limited ...... (and it should because otherwise it is men just being lustful ... and having sex with all the girls he wants ... which is really disgusting ... (and in my books i dont think it should be more than two or three wives)...

  • snowman Provo, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 8:16 p.m.

    The freedom of religion covers polygamy too. All polygamy is, is having one wife and several mistresess. Nothing wrong with that since they are consenting adults. If there was anything wrong with having a mistress our jails would be full to overflowing with people. Cody and his family don't live off of the government.

  • Laura Jane Hilton Head, SC
    Jan. 18, 2013 6:38 p.m.

    I've really tried hard for so many years to understand a man that would want more than one wife? For some reason, my mind goes back to our small cattle ranch in Oklahoma. I can never forget that prize bull. We had so many new calves that one spring. Not to pick on this family because they are real people and not animals, but WE are NOT animals. I actually blame the woman more than the men. I would like to load all the females and take you out to a pasture to watch how the cows behave when the "prize bull" is turned loose. Come on girls, we have two legs not four. And believe you me, we have enough men to go around that we can have one all to our self. Just saying..I guess, I REALLY DON'T get it.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    Jan. 18, 2013 6:13 p.m.

    With all the concern that anti-polygamy laws are supposed to help prevent child abuse, I have a couple of thoughts. One--if polygamy is legal, the people, including every new spouse, will need to present themselves to obtain another marriage certificate to be filled out and signed, and signed by the other spouses as well. This will prevent underage people from marrying. Two--it is recognised that having a teacher and an assistant in a class is better for young students, allowing more attention per child. So how could it not be better if mothers who are consenting adults as in the Brown family work together to rear their children? While personally, it's not my cup of hot chocolate, I can see why, for those who would feel drawn to that way of life, knowing it would be not be something to be hidden any longer would certainly allow one the ability to do what life demands daily without stress on parents or children. Isn't that better for everyone? PS...yes, I'm a liberal, for anyone who gives a care.

  • roadturtle HURRICANE, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 6:06 p.m.

    Dektol said: "You aren't married unless the State issues a license. Living together, no matter what you call the partners is not marriage."
    This is the Correct answer. What happens between consenting adults is none of the governments business. The U.S. Supreme court upheld this years ago.

  • joseywales Park City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 5:56 p.m.

    It's interesting that some think that a man marrying two women is so sick and wrong, yet those same people think that 2 men (or women) should be able to marry each other. I actually personally don't care either way, I'm just making an observation.

    I agree that they should just live together without saying that they are "married". It's not officially recognized as marriage, so why put yourself in the crosshairs of Johnny Law?

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    Jan. 18, 2013 5:39 p.m.

    Maudine, these types of cases are as much about looking forward to what should be as they are looking backward at what has been up to now the way it is. Perhaps the laws have been based on one particular model, driven by one single belief. What this case discusses is, is that how it should be, is this case one example of a valid change we should allow, and what law do we make, should we allow this change, to protect all parties as we allow this change going forward? I am not an attorney, but common sense and a lot of reading and decent intelligence tell me this is a fairly accurate read of this situation.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 3:42 p.m.

    Kouger officially cracks me up.

  • nrajr SANDY, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 3:36 p.m.

    The question presented is not about semantics, welfare, or child abuse, but equal application of the law. Strictly speaking, to fulfill his oath of office, Jensen should prosecute the Browns who are in admitted violation of the state's bigamy law. There are also other pre-twentieth century morality laws that forbid fornication, adultery, and sodomy on the books of Utah and other states. Again, strictly speaking, Jensen, and other prosecutors should be enforcing those other morality laws as well. The article implies what we all know, when concerning consenting adults, violation morality laws are not prosecuted. It is this apparent dichotomy that brings the question “What is the difference between consenting adults engaged in an affair and consenting adults in a polygamous marriage?” Jensen skirted the question with a child-abuse response, which is weak. All relationships that involve children potentially involve abuse. That is why there are laws against acts of abuse rather than laws against (generally speaking), the relationships. Can we be a just society and ignore one set of morality laws between consenting adults, but enforce another that is also between consenting adults, simply because one is labeled adultery and the other bigamy?

  • Mom of ten SANBORNTON, NH
    Jan. 18, 2013 2:16 p.m.

    Just because two or more people state that they are married, does not make it so. Prove it with legal documentation and then there is something to discuss. And though I would not want a polygamous relationship, I really can not see why it is illegal. At least they want to be legally responsible for their children. By legalizing these marriage, it would place the burden of any children onto the mother and father's legal shoulders. Is that not better than all the unattached adults running around like dogs, dropping their litters where ever they have them? Harsh, maybe, but really...!

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 2:10 p.m.

    lost in DC said: " When polygamists collect welfare for the “single mothers” and their children that all live together in the same compound rather than supporting themselves, I do not think one can properly say that they accept responsibility for their actions."

    Does using the word "Compound" instead of Home make you feel better?
    If they were married then the government can keep track of mothers and fathers to prevent fraud just like this, and to allow them to come out of hiding.

    "But the issue was not the relative morality, but what the difference is between polygamists and the participants in an affair."

    lost in DC said: I suppose the late Prophet Brigham Young or many other pillars of Utah's history could tell you the difference, but I don't think they felt like it was just a way to cheat on your wife.

  • bikeboy Boise, ID
    Jan. 18, 2013 1:51 p.m.

    The one-husband-one-wife marriage relationship is the one most likely to provide familial success, in my opinion. (And I believe history would support that notion.)

    That being said...

    With all the ongoing strife and ill feelings with regards to marriage, I'm wondering if maybe the government get out of the "marriage" business. Rather than issue a marriage license, they could issue a civil union license which conveys the various civic perks. The "marriage" would then be performed in the church, if the couple (or triple or whatever) is so inclined, and assming it's sanctioned by the church, of course.

    (I have reservations about the government sponsoring such relationships in the form of various welfare programs. But that problem isn't exclusive to polygamous families, and is a separate issue.)


  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    Based on the .08 and .07 blood alcohol limits premise, here’s something to consider You can drink at home but not drink and drive. Oh, this one is better - presently, you can have one beer and still legally allowed to drive. But you cannot have lots of beers and still allowed to drive. Why? Well the more beers the less safe it is. Therefore we need to get some reliable irrefutable data that connect abuse DIRECTLY to polygamous marriages, and that the risks/likelihood of abuse are greater in polygamous families than monogamous ones. I'm sure there's enough data out there. Then the government can stand by the one beer/wife law - safer and more constructive to society than lots of beers/wives (2 or more). Now that is not a kitchen sink argument.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    Lost: Certainly you know from my post that I realize there are instances in which responsibility is not taken. That happens in all aspects of society, not just polygamy. But that is also not the point.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Jan. 18, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    It is funny to read this article and remember that in the past I have said that polygamy will be justified using similar arguments that gay marriage advocates use. Well, here we go. I am just wondering why the liberals are not out there screaming that this should be legalized like they did with gay marriage.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 12:02 p.m.

    Don’t try to correct Happy Valley Heretic. He vehemently calls people liars who do not believe 49.2% or 43.7% constitute a majority, so we know he has no credibility.

    In some ways you are correct, but in others, I’m afraid I disagree. When polygamists collect welfare for the “single mothers” and their children that all live together in the same compound rather than supporting themselves, I do not think one can properly say that they accept responsibility for their actions.

    But the issue was not the relative morality, but what the difference is between polygamists and the participants in an affair.

  • mattrick78 Cedar City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 11:43 a.m.

    Leave them be. They aren't hurting anyone.

  • Al Thepal Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    What part of the 1st amendment do some people not understand? I personally don't want to practice polygamy and my religion specifically doesn't allow it at this time. But that doesn't mean that the government can violate the rights of others who think it is part of their religion to practice polygamy.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    So if they just wouldn't say they were married then the legal issue would go away, then it just becomes one married couple who happens to allow affairs. That seems to be the problem. If the Browns aren't willing to take that view then it would seem they want the state to allow a polygamous marriage situation. The state, meanwhile, needs to find some way to prosecute them, for more than the Browns saying that they're polygamous, which is where the child abuse/endangerment/cohabitation comes into play. It's all just a semantic mess.

  • Thefullnancy SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 10:59 a.m.

    Oh come on, the Brown's were not forced to leave Utah. The narcissistic ego maniacal pater familia of the Brown clan (Cody)wanted to move to Vegas. The whole state investigation was overblown and overhyped for TV ratings. In addition, the church likes to make a big point out of prosecuting polygamy to continue to convince everyone that they are against it and have banned it despit the fact they mostly turn a blind eye.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    Hey, I sent in the 2nd comment on this story yesterday. Never heard back. Don't see anything posted. What's wrong with your system?

  • Billy Bob Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

    Polygamy among consenting adults never should have been made illegal in the first place. As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that God no longer wants His Church to practice polygamy. But this doesn't mean that other people should not have protection to do so if they believe it is part of their religion. I agree with the assistant attorney general, however that the law has to draw a line somewhere, but even his legal limit for determining drunkenness doesn't uphold his argument that polygamy should be illegal in all instances. Naturally, they should set a legal age limit for someone to be able to enter in to a polygamous relationship, such as 18 or even 21 if that is a better place for them to strike a compromise. Before this age, not even parental consent will allow someone to enter into a polygamous relationship. There needs to be a legal limit set, to be sure, but keeping polygamy illegal in all instances is not the correct solution as it violates constitutional rights.

  • terra nova Park City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    In 1856 the Republican Party platform referred to polygamy as one of "the twin relics of barbarism." I just heard the doorbell. Tell your mother the barbarians are at the gate.

    The other relic was slavery.

    If they legalize polygamy again, is slavery next? Or will they just call them "consenting adults" who willingly work for an owner who pays just enough to live on while 'da boss man' grow ever richer? Slavery, like polygamy never really went away. It just altered its form a little.

    Like everything else, there are good employers and bad ones. There are those that take advantage, and those who don't. There were even a few good polygamous marriages at one time. (Read B.H. Roberts "Defender of the Faith" if you disagree.) But the bad ones. Well, you know who you are...

    Those involved "have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds." (Jacob 2:35)

  • BYUtah Fan Herriman, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Some drivers drive drunk. But we don't ban cars.
    Burglars operate at night. But, it is not illegal to travel after dark.
    Some trusted people steal money. But, we still have trusted people.
    There are people who will abuse any system or freedom. That doesn't mean that we eliminate that system for all people. It is hard to see how these 5 people are harming anyone - themselves and their children included. If there is some form of welfare abuse going on, then tailor the welfare laws to stop it. We already have plenty of child abuse laws. While I can't imagine having more than one wife, if these people want that sort of relationship then leave then alone.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    Lost: I guess that is ultimately the point. You have two groups of people cohabitating. One group maintains zero responsibility for their actions, claims no legal backing for their relationships and lives without any form of harrassment from the law. The other group accepts the responsibility for their actions, claims a binding contract for their relationship, and they are punished by the law, but are doing nothing different as far as actual actions than the first group. I think the judge has a valid point in questioning why society sees the two so differently when one is punished for accepting responsibility and the other is not punished and accepts no responsibility. (And yes, I know it is "against the law", and there are people that abuse children and etc, etc, etc.... That isn't the question being raised by this situation)

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 9:40 a.m.

    Dektol said: "You aren't married unless the State issues a license. Living together, no matter what you call the partners is not marriage."

    What about common law marriage that exist in many states?

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    Shimlau Said " happy valley heretic, It's not the hypocrisy, it's the law.

    Regardless of the law's, it was still practiced by the church until the Statehood tradeoff.
    So the law apparently didn't matter to the faithful either, until it was politically advantageous to do so.

  • Dektol Powell, OH
    Jan. 18, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    You aren't married unless the State issues a license. Living together, no matter what you call the partners is not marriage.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    happy valley heretic, It's not the hypocrisy, it's the law. I don't remember the date, but congress in the 1880's, passed the Edmunds Act and it was upheld by the supreme court as the law of the land, it made 'polygamy' illegal. a little while later, the Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed that allowed the federal government to confiscate the property of 'polygamists', and the organizations that taught or supported it. This was also upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. Of course in order for Utah to become a state, this had to be treated in the constitution of the state.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    The difference between an affair and a bigamist or polygamist "marriage" is the latter implies some tye of permanent (or at least semi-permanent) relationship or contract between the parties while the former does not.

    Most polygamists here, if I am not mistaken, claim a "spiritual" union with wives number 2,3,4,etc. Those who enter into affairs claim no such relationship or implied contract.

    We have a federal judge and a state attorney who cannot see that? pretty sad.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 8:11 a.m.

    It's hypocritical fro LDS people to condem or seek to discredit this kind of marriage/relationship, or have they forgotten what it's like to faithfully and religiously believe in your heart differently then the majority believe.

    If everyone is of age then it's a freedom of religion issue. Please don't try and use the "we don't allow "sacrificial killings" baloney there is no comparison or slippery slope.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 7:55 a.m.

    Behold the further unraveling of marriage in our society...

  • Reader Sandy, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 7:41 a.m.

    If they are all just living together I can't see that a law is broken. If they are calling each other husband and wife and claiming that they are married, that is a different story. It is illegal in every state to be married to more than one person at a time.

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 18, 2013 7:32 a.m.

    It seems like there are enough child abuse laws in place to catch any reasons for keeping polygamy as a crime. In the meantime, aren't there more important issues then what's going on between four completely consensual adults?

  • mattmo Gallatin, MO
    Jan. 18, 2013 7:09 a.m.

    If I remember right polygamy only became a felony due to the federal government bullying one religion. It wasn't about what was morally wrong or right at that time due to the fact there was not medicaid or food stamps back then. They, the government, just wanted to tear, law abiding families, apart. So now anything immoral is considered OK and that which is moral is considered an infringement of my right to be immoral.

  • indycrimson Franklin, IN
    Jan. 18, 2013 4:11 a.m.

    Eddy...no political divide here.

    I have knowledge that many polygamist families pose the wives as single moms and draw welfare support. You get 4 or 5 of these coming into a house that makes their own clothes, gets food stamps and $400.00 per month per child and life is made much easier. If 5 moms have 5 kids and get 400.00 each in support you just racked up 100k in that home.

    The guy I mentioned with 11 kids...he works and pays ZERO child supports and none of the females work.


  • Fuzz Springville, UT
    Jan. 17, 2013 11:26 p.m.

    What is your point? This case is not about what is or isn't marriage. Its about what should be and shouldn't be a felon. The stupid thing is that if these 4 women and 1 man simply lived together under one roof, no one would care, but because they state that they are married, all of a sudden its a felony. Am I the only one here that sees how ridiculous that is?

    The whole argument seems to be that polygamists sometimes marry underage girls and kick boys out of the family, so all polygamists are felons...guilt by association. I'm not asking anyone to agree with polygamy, but polygamy is not a crime and should not be considered one.

  • Jonathan Eddy Payson, UT
    Jan. 17, 2013 11:25 p.m.

    Just call it an affair. People don't care when it's an affair. Consenting adults. Big deal!

    @ indycrimson- "Both types feed off of the government via unemployment, Medicaid and food stamps..." Both types, meaning Republicans and Democrats?

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Jan. 17, 2013 9:37 p.m.

    The Utah State Constitution very clearly states that marriage is between one man and one woman and no other relationship no matter what you call it is a marriage or is equivalent to a marriage. There is no difference between this relationship and an affair because Utah law prohibits the recognition of any difference.

  • indycrimson Franklin, IN
    Jan. 17, 2013 9:01 p.m.

    I'm big on monogomy...but this judge has a good point! I asked a guy the other day how many kids he had and he said 11. He gave me ages of 3, 6, 7, 7, 7, 10, 13, 13, 13, 13, 15... I told him how unique it was for one family to have triplets and quads...he (without blinking) said...different moms...

    If one is illegal the other one should be too! Both types feed off of the government via unemployment, Medicaid and food stamps...

    It's all wrong in my book....