Mary Potter's husband was fired from his job as a police officer after Murray officials learned he had more than one wife.

The following 15 years have been difficult, she says, and she refuses to talk about it.But she's making headlines anyway.

Potter is leading a new group, the latest twist in the recent controversy swirling around plural marriage in Utah.

The Women's Religious Liberties Union held its first meeting Thursday evening and called a news conference Friday to meet with the news media. Group members declare their mission is not religious but political: They want Utah to repeal the state law that bans polygamy.

The 16 women joined, Potter said, after another group, Tapestry of Polygamy, began speaking publicly and critically about abuses that happen to women and children in polygamous families.

Ironically, many of the women know each other, and each group claims the other group is misguided. Both groups de-nounce abuse in families including the case of polygamist John Daniel Kingston, who is accused of beating his 16-year-old daughter after the girl fled a marriage to her 32-year-old uncle.

Potter, who says her husband now only has one wife, claims abuses that go on in polygamous relationships are as individual as those that happen in monogamous ones.

She says adult women have the right to live as they want. In a surprise move, Potter thanked both the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt for their support.

Leavitt told reporters at his monthly KUED press conference last week that he believed polygamists have religious freedoms.

But he called a press conference late Friday to speak again about the issue, saying he has learned that the "First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom is not among the reasons prosecutors do not prosecute."

Leavitt reiterated polygamy is prohibited by the Utah Constitution, and he is not sympathetic to its practice.

The firestorm worries women like Beth Cook, who was raised in a polygamist community and married a polygamist.

She was 9 years old in 1952 when federal and Arizona officials raided the Utah-Arizona border communities of Hilldale and Colorado City. Polygamist men were rounded up and jailed. Children were placed in foster care.

The action was viewed as a political disaster.

Despite the difficulties of living the lifestyle and a failed marriage to a polygamist, Cook says she would marry again. She has children living in polygamy, and she believes it is a holy way of life.

Though early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who settled Utah practiced polygamy, the church abandoned it in 1890. Still, spinoff factions and independents continue the practice. By most accounts there are about 30,000 people living in polygamy in the West.

Potter's husband, Royston, attended Friday's press conference called by the Women's Religious Liberties Union but did not speak to the media.

He sued the the city of Murray in federal court in 1983, calling to question the ban on polygamy. But a U.S. District Court judge rejected the claim that polygamy was a practice protected by the U.S. Constitution. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, saying in 1985 that monogamy is the "bedrock upon which our culture is built."

Mary Potter said the women in her group fear being identified because of repercussions from neighbors, employers and others.

Potter said she would deliver a copy of the new group's "manifesto" to Leavitt Friday. Her group plans to meet monthly.