Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Left Masthead
May 29, 2016
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Truthdig Bazaar


Sam Harris

more items

Ear to the Ground
Print this item

Utah Judge Strikes Down Polygamy Law

Posted on Dec 14, 2013
ErgSap (CC BY 2.0)

A U.S. District Court judge ruled key parts of Utah’s polygamy law unconstitutional, a decision that effectively decriminalizes polygamy.

The ruling is the latest development in a lawsuit filed by the family of Kody Brown, a star of cable TV channel TLC’s reality show “Sister Wives.”

The Salt Lake Tribune explains:

[Judge Clark] Waddoups’ ruling attacks the parts of Utah’s law making cohabitation illegal. In the introduction, Waddoups says the phrase “or cohabits with another person” is a violation of both the First and 14th amendments. Waddoups later writes that while there is no “fundamental right” to practice polygamy, the issue really comes down to “religious cohabitation.” In the 1800s—when the mainstream LDS Churh still practiced polygamy—“religious cohabitation” in Utah could have actually resulted in “multiple purportedly legal marriages.” Today, however, simply living together doesn’t amount to being “married,” Waddoups writes.

“The court finds the cohabitation prong of the Statute unconstitutional on numerous grounds and strikes it,” Waddoups later writes.

The ruling makes bigamy, the act of marrying a person while already being married to another, illegal only in the literal sense, as when someone fraudulently acquires multiple marriage licenses.

The Browns filed their lawsuit in July 2011, arguing that Utah’s law violated their right to privacy. That argument relied upon the 2003 Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas law banning sodomy. The Brown family also faced possible prosecution from Utah County. Nearly a year after they filed their suit, however, Utah County District Attorney Jeff Buhman announced his office wouldn’t file bigamy charges against consenting adult polygamists unless violence, fraud or abuse was involved.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

More Below the Ad


Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network

Like Truthdig on Facebook