Sister Wives family to challenge Utah polygamy laws

Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:04pm EDT
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By James Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - The family featured on the U.S. reality TV series "Sister Wives," about an advertising executive and four women he calls spouses, is challenging the government's right to criminalize its lifestyle, the family's lawyer said.

The family, in a lawsuit to be filed on Wednesday, will challenge Utah's bigamy statute. It is not trying to get the government to recognize plural marriage, just to stay out of the intimate affairs of consenting adults.

"We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs," family attorney Jonathan Turley said in a statement.

"Sister Wives", which has just concluded its second season, premiered in the U.S. on cable television in September, earning strong ratings while also drawing the attention of authorities in the Utah town of Lehi, south of Salt Lake city, where the family shared a large house.

The show documents the world of Kody Brown, then 41, and the four women he lives with -- Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn -- along with their children, as they seek to fit in with mainstream society while maintaining their religious beliefs in plural marriage.

Brown is legally married to just one of the women, but counts the three others as "sister wives," a term in polygamous sects that refers to a husband's multiple marital partners.

Turley said earlier this year that the Browns and their 16 children moved from their Lehi, Utah home to an undisclosed location in Nevada.

Lehi residents had complained about the publicity and felt the show depicted their community in an unsavory light.   Continued...

<p>Kody Brown with sister wives (L to R) Robyn, Christine, Meri and Janelle. REUTERS/TLC/George Lange</p>