Attorney general deciding whether to appeal 'Sister Wives' ruling

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  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Aug. 30, 2014 10:24 a.m.

    @ K: What you are describing is adultery, not polygamy - and lots and lots of people do it and it is not illegal.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Aug. 29, 2014 1:03 p.m.

    When you get married civilly it is to the exclusion of others until death or divorce. Kody and Meri should be prosecuted for fraud for claiming to be an exclusively married couple when the both agreed to add the other wives to the family without getting divorced. That is why they are unique to other cohabiting couples in the state. It is one thing to live with people you are not married to, another to be married and live several days of every week in the home of a woman who is not your wife, when you are legally married.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2014 6:27 p.m.

    @ hermounts: Yes, what the Brown family is doing is okay because it is not marriage and there are no laws on the books criminalizing adultery (although the law that was struck down came close - but only if you were living with the person you were committing adultery with).

    @ Cats: As has been pointed out to you numerous times, many of those who support SSM would also support polygamy if there were a way to ensure that it was voluntary, that all partners are treated as equal in the relationship, and if the many legal issues the present when discussing multiples instead of two could be resolved in a just way. There are people who are seriously working on addressing those issues, not just throwing polygamy up as a stumbling block to SSM.

    In the meantime, many of the SSM rulings have addressed the issue the of polygamy as well the issues of children, close relatives, and inanimate objects. Very few attorneys who take the opposition to SSM seriously bring the slippery slope up in court because they know it is a losing strategy.

  • hermounts Pleasanton, CA
    Aug. 28, 2014 6:14 p.m.

    Bigamy, defined as obtaining multiple marriage licenses, is still illegal. So, what the Brown clan are doing is OK only because it is NOT marriage???

  • skrekk Dane, WI
    Aug. 28, 2014 2:59 p.m.

    @Cat says: " Do they believe that others who want "equal protection" for their type of marriage don't deserve the same rights as gays do?"

    Are wannabe polygamists denied the right to marry as gay couples are denied that right, or are they merely denied the right to have multiple simultaneous marriages? That's why there isn't an equal protection violation, because wannabe polygamists have the same right to marry as everyone else.

    The problem your side faces is that the courts require these issues to be argued on their own merits and have repeatedly rejected your erroneous slippery-slope arguments. That's why you anti-gay folks have lost unanimously in the federal courts. You've literally lost every single case since the Windsor ruling last year, and virtually every case since 2003.

    And once you drop the false equivalencies and start debating honestly in favor of polygamy (rather than using it dishonestly as a wedge against mixed-race or same-sex marriage), you'll need to explain to a court how polygamy can work from a structural standpoint in regards to the property and kinship rights of marriage. So far no wannabe polygamist has done that.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2014 2:31 p.m.

    @ 2 bits: Tom Green was convicted for child rape, since one of his wives was only 13 - not really the same situation at all.

    @ 100%: The Civil Rights Act is based on the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment and has been found to be Constitutional.

    You cannot discriminate based on gender, so if you allow a man more than one wife, you must allow a woman more than one husband.

    A legally recognized marriage - one including a state-issued marriage license - provides many legal protections to the married couple. If you want to have a marriage without those legal protections, you are more than welcome to (and if this ruling stands, you can even have multiple spouses), but the government doesn't have to recognize that marriage and give you the accompanying legal benefits.

    If God didn't make Steve, who did?

    @ Cats: You may wish to simplify the issue as "the emotional desires of adults," but that is not what the court cases are based on, most of the formal opposition is not based on that, and the two judges who have found for bans on SSM have not used that as reasoning.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 28, 2014 2:12 p.m.

    @ Vanceone: Bigamy/polygamy is generally defined as being legally married to more than one person. This case does not change that - being legally married to more than one person will still be illegal.

    What this case challenges is the idea that it is illegal to cohabit with someone other than your legal spouse. Utah is the only state that criminalizes that. If this case is upheld, bigamy/polygamy will still be illegal - as required by the Utah State Enabling Act and the Utah Constitution - but living with someone other than you lawfully wedded spouse will no longer be a felony. (No other state criminalizes that - only Utah. Utah will have the exact same bigamy/polygamy law as every other state.)

    @ 2 bits: Per the Supremacy Clause of the Federal Constitution, which is acknowledged in all state constitutions, state constitutions cannot violate the Federal Constitution. If a state law violates the state or federal constitution, Judges can overturn it. Likewise, if a provision of a state constitution violates the Federal Constitution, Judges can overturn that as well.

    This case challenges a state law and claims that it violates the Federal Constitution.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 1:50 p.m.

    I know judges can override laws... but can the override Constitutions???

    Are Constitutions just laws? Or are they frameworks for government?

    I think State Constitutions (which must be passed by the people... not the Legislature) define the framework that laws (passed by the Legislature) must fit into. Am I wrong?


    My hypothesis is that only the PEOPLE in the State can change the State Constitution. Not the Legislature, not the Governor, not Judges.

    Legislatures can't amend State Constitutions... only the people can. That's why all Constitutional Amendments require a vote of the PEOPLE.... Not the Legislature.

    Even judges should not change State Constitution/Amendments passed by the people.

    Legislatures should not be able to change the Constitution, Judges should not be able to change the Constitution, because the Constitution constrains the Legislature AND the Judges. Only the people can change the Constitution.

    The exception to this is... if the State Constitution violates the Federal Constitution. People in a State can't override the Federal Constitution with their own.

    Local judges... district judges... should NOT change Constitutions... only the Supreme Court can... that's why Supreme Court NEEDS to hear and rule on this.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 1:37 p.m.

    Dear Skrekk,

    If the justification for marriage is based solely on the emotional desires of adults (which the argument in favor of SSM clearly is) then the emotional desires of those who want to have group marriage cannot be denied any more than for gays.

    I'm really finding this quite amusing the way the gays are now scrambling around and trying to claim that their cause is different. It's really quite funny. Could it be that they are bigots against those who want polygamy, polyandry and other forms of marriage? Do they believe that others who want "equal protection" for their type of marriage don't deserve the same rights as gays do?

    I can't believe what hypocrisy is floating out of their mouths. It really is quite funny.

  • skrekk Dane, WI
    Aug. 28, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    @Cat says: "If gay marriage is upheld, there can be no basis for stopping polygamy. The gays have opened a can of worms and there's no telling where it will end"

    That's the exact same argument the racists in the confederate states made against mixed-race marriage, that it would lead to polygamy. It made no more sense when they made it 50 years ago than when you made it today.

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:57 a.m.

    Sorry, Schnee: the Utah Constitution explicitly does not permit judges to affect it on this matter. It mentions Congress and the Legislature: nothing about the President or the Judicial Branch.

    This isn't something a judge can hand wave away. In fact, I'd say that this is a unique case where the Federal Government voluntarily gave its normal rights of Supremacy up-- literally speaking, the Feds cannot override Utah's Constitution without consent of Utah in this matter. That was the consequence they set up for themselves to make sure that Utah couldn't legalize polygamy on their own. Both sides have to agree, and a judge cannot force it.

    If they try, Utah's out of the Union. Pretty simple. Which, by the way, is a compelling state interest, don't you think? The very existence of a state?

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:53 a.m.

    "I like the traditional definition of "Marriage". But if you force the courts to broaden it to include one group... can you really exclude the OTHER group??"

    The court already did that long before SSM when they broadened it to include interracial marriage. That's where the precedent for striking down state bans came from.

    How exactly would the gov't set up "equal protections" with polygamy/polyandry when it comes to the law? It's easy for same-sex couples, just change husband and wife to spouse and spouse on forms.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    I wonder if Tom Green will get those years HE spent in prison back... (google "Tom Green Utah" if you don't remember the case). The State destroyed his life (but he didn't have a TV show).


    How is the gay marriage issue and this one "Totally different"???

    Does "Equal Protection" only apply to ONE group (and not the other)?

    That's what they Gay Marriage legal case going to the Supreme Court is based on "Equal Protection". How do you make the case that GAY marriage deserves equal protection to normal marriages... but other marriages don't??

    Seems inconsistent to me...

    If the courts must make one legal (on equal protection grounds)... it seems there is no legal leg to stand on to make the OTHER "illegal".


    I like the traditional definition of "Marriage". But if you force the courts to broaden it to include one group... can you really exclude the OTHER group??

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    "So their love is a felony because we can't handle the tax math? "

    No, I said it's not legalized because we can't handle the tax math. It wouldn't be a felony if it's decriminalized which is what I support.

    "And we should legally and lawfully promote homosexuality through marriage because?"

    There's no valid reason to ban it.

    Thank you for listing some studies (though I'm not giving you "children raised outside of traditional homes" because the way you define it that's the equivalent of saying gay people are "less likely to be straight", a meaningless stat). However... just two problems... a lot of these are tied to the fact that they're oppressed (easier to be depressed when you're being bullied for being gay or having gay parents) and you can find a massive set of similar stats that apply to poor people or other demographics, why is gay people the only one we apply averages to like this? Want to go after black people marrying because their kids have lower SAT scores on average?

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    There's a lot of comparing apples and oranges going on here. At issue in this case is not the right of multiple civil marriage. Marriage as a civil institution in this country only exists as the equal legal pairing of two otherwise-uncommitted, consenting, unrelated adults.

    The issues at hand in the Brown case as I understand them, are:

    ..Right of association.
    ..Religious rights.
    ..Reproductive rights.
    ..Personal liberty.

    If three or seven people want to live together, breed together, raise children together, or just have wild sex parties among themselves, that in and of itself cannot be an issue for the State. Moral disapproval alone is not a valid reason to curtail their personal freedoms.

    The State has laws against abuse, welfare fraud, child neglect, unsafe housing, and abandonment by a parent which are perfectly valid when appropriately applied, but there are no laws against fornication, bearing children out of wedlock, or purporting to follow a religion. Utah lost its case for attempting to legislate morality and compel people to follow a certain lifestyle without having any legal grounds to do so. Which seems to be a pattern in Utah.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:31 a.m.

    This lawsuit would only decriminalize it at best, not legalize it. And any ruling that would affect statehood would also come with a provision getting rid of that clause as well.

  • 100%TruePAtriot cincinnati, OH
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:13 a.m.

    Someone said:
    (you definitely can't legalize polygamy without legalizing polyandry)

    Actually you are incorrect. You can legalize polygamy without legalizing polyandry.

    You have to draw the line somewhere and that is the traditional way to draw it. And the moral and proper way too.

    The unconstitutional civil rights act is what is causing all these problems and headaches.

    And since the government is NOT allowed to interfere with freedom of religion, polygamy (but not polyandry) is supposed to be legal.

    Interesting that you must have 'permission' from the government to marry someone. A license denoted permission. And that too is unconstitutional.

    Simplify the tax code into a consumption tax and no write-offs and these problems go away.

    Our whole society is perverted beyond recognition.
    And gays are not the best role models for kids to grow up seeing. They just desensitize the kids and makes them complacent regarding a vile lifestyle.
    Kids were always supposed to be raised by a mom and a dad.
    God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and STEVE.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    I do not believe in polygamy.

    However, I fail to see that a committed polygamous relationship is anywhere near as damaging as the hordes of uncommitted relationships where children are born to unmarried women with no male role model, and often only the briefest acquaintance with the sperm donor.

    If we want to demand that which is best for "The Children" then we must criminalize and punish unmarried child bearing and pregnancy to be treated at least as shamefully as polygamy.

    We have precious few morale values left anyway, so if we are gong to demolish more, then let them all go. Repeal all Ten Commandments at once instead of piecemeal.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:10 a.m.

    First, some clarification about the lawsuit: In all 50 states it is illegal to have more than one marriage license. In 49 states it is NOT illegal to be married to person A and cohabiting with person B and/or C and/ or D etc. - even if you present yourself to the world as being married to the person(s) you are cohabiting with. Utah is/was the exception to this. Utah law criminalizes cohabiting with and presenting someone as a spouse while you are legally married to someone else. This second part of the law, the part that was unique to Utah, is what has been struck down. Utah bigamy law will be exactly the same as the bigamy laws in every other state.

    No, this does not threaten Utah statehood; no, polygamy is not legal.

    @ firstamendment: Those studies have been closely reviewed, and do not actually say what you think they say.

  • SuperNova Eagle, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    If everyone is a consenting adult, and the administrative complexities can be worked out (inheritance, if one wants to leave what happens to the rest of the marriage...etc..) who am I to say no?

    If a guy can get 10 women to love him enough to marry him and share him...who am I to say no? I may be a little jealous...but that shouldn't be legal grounds to say no ;).

  • firstamendment Lehi, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    @Schnee So their love is a felony because we can't handle the tax math? And we should legally and lawfully promote homosexuality through marriage because? We promote stable heterosxual relationships through marriage because they are crucial for our survival. Judge Vaughn enforces his morality over the people of CA because he wants to promote homosexualty,as he explained. Gay marriage proponents encourage the break up of heterosexual marriages and the abandonment of traditional families ("Bye I Love You" etc.)

    Promoting homosexuality is known to-increase: domestic violence, drug addiction, promiscuity, suicide, depression, harm to children, racism & anti-religious bigotry, numbers of children raised outside of traditional homes, etc. etc. and decrease beneficial religious faith, etc.

    Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 3-22
    Adolescents of the U.S. national longitudinal lesbian family study. Archives of Sexual Behavior 40
    Journal of Biosocial Science, 42, 721-742.
    Psychological Reports, 107, 953-971.
    Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 173-183.
    Fathers' Involvement And Children's Developmental Outcomes
    Gender Complementarity and Child-rearing: Where Tradition and Science Agree
    Fathers' Involvement And Children's Developmental Outcomes

    etc. etc. The evidence decisively indicates that children perform better when reared by dual-gender parents.

  • J.S Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 9:34 a.m.

    There's absolutely no evidence that homosexual couples are a danger to their adopted children. Period.

    Besides, comparing gay marriage and polygamy is like comparing apples and oranges. They're both fruits but they're also totally different.

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    Aug. 28, 2014 9:33 a.m.

    Stop with the hysterics. Society still has a valid scientific reason for not allowing marriage between a parent and their biological children. And an animal does not have the ability to give consent. On the other hand I do realize that we are still ignoring the fact that just like those who are born homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual we have people who are born with an attraction to 13 to 17 year old teens.

    Aug. 28, 2014 9:21 a.m.

    I am confused, I guess...

    The Utah Territory had to denounce and pass laws against polygamy to be admitted into the union, and now the same federal government that required all of that is now saying that those same laws are a violation of the Constitution????

    Aug. 28, 2014 9:14 a.m.


    I have also been surprised that the United Church of Christ lawsuit in North Carolina has not been reported here at all.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 9:09 a.m.

    It seems like some commenters are misunderstanding polygamy in the state of Utah. The first wife gets the legal marriage. The other "marriages" are not recognized by the state of Utah. They are "spiritual" marriages. This is the loophole. He is only married to one wife. He co-habitates with the others.
    So technically he has only one wife, which is why the state cannot prosecute him for polygamy and win.

  • environmental idiot Sanpete, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 9:01 a.m.

    Very interesting that the same practice that the federal government forced Utah to abandon before they would allow statehood is now being defended by the federal government. Go figure.

    The next suit should be for the allowance of multiple marriage licenses. As was stated above... If it's good for the gay, it's good for the gander.

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 9:01 a.m.

    I hope the AG decides to appeal.

    Setting aside the whole "Is it moral bit" and right now the LDS church says it is not, the fact is that Utah cannot have legal polygamy. If Polygamy is legalized, Utah is no longer a state. Plain and Simple. 1) the Utah Constitution forbids polygamy, and that particular language cannot be amended, and 2) as Scalia points out, Utah's Enabling act--the act that created the State of Utah--sets as a condition of statehood that polygamy cannot be legal.

    Thus, if some judge legalizes polygamy, then Utah is in violation of its Constitution and its Enabling Act, and therefore would no longer qualify to be a State. Therefore, legalized polygamy would evict Utah from the Union. And Oklahoma and a few other states as well.
    Thus, I hope the AG appeals, because otherwise Utah is probably going to be thrust out of the Union.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    This newspaper has made the defense of religious liberty a major cause, with frequent editorial support and reportorial coverage of Hobby Lobby, wedding bakers and photographers, and others claiming government infringement of their rights to freely exercise their faith. Will the paper support the Browns in their fight to live by the tenets of their faith? Judging by the thunderous silence of this paper with respect to the North Carolina clergy lawsuit, I suspect not. Apparently, some faiths are more equal than others.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    If gay marriage is upheld, there can be no basis for stopping polygamy. The gays have opened a can of worms and there's no telling where it will end. If marriage is based only on the emotional desire of adults, there can be no stopping brother/sister, father/daughter, mother/son, a man to his dog, etc., etc. Consenting adults are all that count and the welfare of children is not a consideration. Society is on the verge of going over the cliff.

    Sodom and Gomorrah here we come.

  • trekker Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 7:28 a.m.

    If Utah fights this ruling they need to be prepared to go after anyone that is cohabiting or committing adultery.

    Aug. 28, 2014 7:14 a.m.

    Personally I support same sex marriage, and polygamy/polyandry/polyamory. But why is it that our AG feels the need to fight SSM tooth and nail all the way to the supreme court, but not this one? He always claims that he is just doing his job, upholding the law. But when it comes to polygamy the state feels that the 10th circuit is as high as they need to go.

  • trekker Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 6:34 a.m.

    I think its important to point out. Plural marriage is still not legal. The state will not grant you multiple marriage licenses. The Browns lawsuit made it so the State cannot arrest or charge you just for being polygamist. Otherwise they would have to arrest anyone who is cohabiting or committing adultery.

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    Aug. 28, 2014 6:18 a.m.

    The courts got this one right. Since he is only married to one woman according to the State Records he is not a Bigamist. The Church or Religious Marriages to the other women do not count in the eyes of the Court since he did not seek a Marriage License from any State.

  • funny_guy Vacaville, CA
    Aug. 28, 2014 5:53 a.m.

    Interesting that a man can cohabitate with multiple women and impregnate them multiple times and that is perfectly legal. But when he commits to them and is willing to take responsibility for their children then it becomes a crime. One would think Utah of all places would be more tolerant in this situation, considering its past history with polygamy or is it more of a fundamentalist thing?

  • DUPDaze Bakersfield, CA
    Aug. 28, 2014 5:32 a.m.

    The first govenor of the state of Utah would be shocked and amazed at the ill-treatment of the FLDS in his sweet Deseret.

    The first founder, promoter and importer of polygamy to the United States would be sad. Angels with swords can be very convincing...

    And my two great-granddaddys, who valiantly served their time for feloneous polygamy, would be donating to Kody's legal defense...

    My, how one new revelation can turn a whole lifestyle on its head, and family morality upsidedown. No wonder I have so many confused relatives in your fair state! Let's not even start with mine... We give illegals open borders and jobs while making the law-abiding ones jump through hoops and pay a fortune to vote...

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 11:05 p.m.

    Polygamy has far more biological, religious, and sociological precedent than gay marriage - therefore those who advocate gay marriage but not polygamy are disingenuous because they are drawing an arbitrary line for less valid reasons. Marriage as a secular institution was designed to protect women and children. If the gender and reproduction elements are removed - then there are NO valid reasons to oppose any adult sexual relationship (even incest which was practiced by European royalty for decades) Gay marriage busts marriage, leaving no reason to legitimately oppose polygamy or adult incest

    Marriage should be left as it is: one man one woman

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:57 p.m.

    If you want to explain how to handle a situation in the law and tax code where a man marries three women one of whom is married to three men (you definitely can't legalize polygamy without legalizing polyandry)... go right ahead and explain it. Otherwise, many just support decriminalizing polygamy.

    "There is a lot of evidence that promoting homosexuality is harmful for our children (most of that evidence is suppressed)"

    In other words, there isn't evidence, and an excuse is needed to explain that.

  • UtahBruin Saratoga Springs, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:33 p.m.

    Let it be already. They moved, they are no longer in Utah. And I have watched the show, although I don't agree with their life style. They seem like good people. Why when the courts already decided something do we have to go back and make someones life miserable just because we didn't win the first time. You know, I don't like the Yankees, but I don't petition to the courts to go back and have every world series they won replayed until they lose. Let it go already, the Brown's are good people and live a life that is just uncommon to many others. So be it! People don't like me because I am Mormon, and people don't like the Brown's because he lives a polygamist life style. Any man that can handle more than one wife, my hats off to him. Let it go, they are good people not harming anyone. When their children start to become abused, let me know and we can revisit this.

  • firstamendment Lehi, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:29 p.m.

    I FEEL that polygamy is wrong for us, however, I don't know of any evidence showing that adult polygamy is harmful for children (it has been argued, even in the NY Times, that polygamy IS traditional marriage and I know that past polygamist families produced some of the world's finest, and Utah's past polygamy helped wonderful mothers to also become some of Americas first female Lawyers, Doctors, and such).

    There is a lot of evidence that promoting homosexuality is harmful for our children (most of that evidence is suppressed) and there is no real reason for homosexuality to be legally and lawfully promoted or enforced by our governments. So, it is so very odd that polygamy is still a felony, and homosexual marriage is promoted almost everywhere...... strange world.

  • firstamendment Lehi, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:08 p.m.

    It's all about marriage equality....right? :) Most gay marriage propagandists argue that polygamy is morally inferior to homosexuality and thus they don't deserve "marriage equality"...I don't get it. The Big Bang etc. obviously disagrees, the Bang only allows heterosexuals the right to have children.