We have commented before about the states desire to dismiss the Sisterwives lawsuit against the State of Utah, and anticipated the ruling that came down yesterday. We certainly applaud the decision and look forward to the trial that will ensue, where facts and logic will prevail over the long standing tradition of persecution and domination of the people of our faith.
In a strongly worded opinion, Judge Waddoups declared, “The entirety of actions by the Utah County prosecutors tend to show either an ill-conceived public-relations campaign to showboat their own authority and/or harass the Browns and the polygamist community at large, or to assure the public that they intended to carry out their public obligations and prosecute violations of the law.” For the entire memorandum you can read it here.
That Utah County prosecuter, Jeff Buhman ( should we say Buhman’s Blunder) ever let this case get this far has to be frustrating to Mark Shurtleff and the rest of the establishment. We have long contended that they have known the law will not hold up to a constitutional challenge. However, from a public relations perspective, and from the point of view of keeping plural families like ours marginalized and from common acceptance it is important that the law is kept on the books.
It never had to be used for prosecution, except as an enhancement crime. That way every time someone did something wrong that happened to be a polygamous they could highlight polygamy as criminal. Instead, it only needed to stay on the books as a sort of moral code to keep our society conforming to the “traditional norms of marriage between one man and one woman.” After all, if we are decriminalized what’s next? Laws forbidding religious discrimination against us would have to be enforced, and heaven forbid if it is no longer against the law of the land polygamy may have to be practiced in the LDS Church. (Not that we seriously expect that to occur.)
Now we have a historic opportunity to challenge this long injustice. It puts the State in a very difficult position. The last word is that the Browns were still under investigation. If that is so what is there to investigate. That they “purport” to be married is shown to millions on TV. If they insist the investigation is still continuing than it continues to play into the Brown’s hand as evidence of harm. They can always say we have concluded that the Browns do violate the statue but we will not prosecute, therefore admitting that the law must be repealed.
Either way the Attorney General and the Governor are let off the hook. They can make Utah County take the political heat. The best thing for the State to do is to admit that the law is unconstitutional, that it should be repealed and move on out of peoples bedrooms. That would save the tax payers millions of dollars and send a clear message to all polygamous communities to no longer live in fear.
However, my bet is that they will not do so. They will fight the “moral” fight and lose, which will open up the way for a change unilaterally across all 5o states. Let’s continue to root for liberty and justice for ALL!