Utah County Comes To Party Late, Drops Polygamy Investigation

Sisterwives- Brown Family

Sisterwives- Brown Family

So yesterday was the day that both parties in the “Sisterwives” Lawsuit, regarding the Brown family, were to file motions on the constitutionality of the states bigamy statues.  The state, rather than face a legal challenge they cannot win, has decided to assume the fetal position and try to appease the Brown’s by filing a declaration with the Court promising not to prosecute the Brown family, end their investigation, and furthermore promise not to harass, persecute and prosecute polygamists any more, essentially trying to mirror the Utah State Attorney General’s position.

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman wrote, “I have now adopted a formal policy not to prosecute the practice of bigamy unless the bigamy occurs in conjunction with another crime or a person under the age of 18 was a party to the bigamous marriage or relationship”. For a complete story, including the Brown’s response you can read Fox 13 report here.

This is a big change from their tone two years ago. It reminds me of when I was a kid and the bully in elementary got caught picking on me. He said he was sorry with his parent and the principle now standing over his shoulder, and promised to do better in the future.  In my experience, this kind of apology means you won’t be bullied as long as the bully won’t be caught, but it doesn’t mean he is really sorry. Later, the same bully labeled me as a tattle tale and got others to trip me from behind when I was walking.

I have had many people tell me they thought the Brown’s dramatized the events then for television and that they suffered no real threat. As someone who has faced the fear of potential prosecution, I am here to proclaim that the threat was authentic. When I talked to the Brown’s at that time the trauma and fear were real. In fact, to their credit they have never made the lawsuit something for television, but have remained true to being themselves on camera.

The new approach is certainly an attempt to mirror that of the Utah Attorney General.  It was the state that was let out of the lawsuit because of their unspoken practice of not prosecuting the controversial practice for the last few decades.  The judge had agreed with the lawsuits premise when he refused to dismiss the lawsuit as having no basis, essentially saying the impact on the Brown’s free speech has a potential “chilling effect.”

I am glad the Brown’s are continuing with their lawsuit.  What this action by Utah County shows is the indefensible position, and the injustice of polygamy laws.  It is not enough to say we are not going to prosecute a law, because we cannot win, but we are still going to leave the law in place and use it when we deem it necessary for the “bad” polygamous people.

While we can all agree the underage marriage, marriage fraud and other crimes committed by polygamous individuals or not, should be prosecuted; we don’t need a bigamy enhancement for that.  It is admirable the Utah Attorney General’s office has tried to keep a dialog and realized the practical reality of not being able to lock us all up, but is this far enough? No!

Remove the stigma through decriminalization, and deal with polygamous people as any religious, racial or relationship status minority. There are laws against child abuse, there are laws against fraud. While we applaud the change by Utah County, we hope the new Utah State Attorney General who is elected this year, and other public policy makers will realize that this does not go far enough.

Justice and freedom for the least of us, is justice and freedom for all of us! By removing the stigma formally, by not only saying we will not prosecute plural families, but that WE CANNOT BY LAW prosecute plural families, we eliminate the public endorsement for prejudice, persecution and discrimination, and we open up a real dialogue for members of this culture to fully engage in the civil process.

I want my children to run for office, be police officers, lawyers, judges and contributing members of society. I want individuals who are from plural families and are victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and other crimes, crimes that occur in every segment of society, to feel free to come forward and report those crimes, without being made to feel like part of their victimization is also polygamy. I want a society that gives us the same freedom, the same respect and the same rights as every other American, no more and no less!

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3 Responses to Utah County Comes To Party Late, Drops Polygamy Investigation

  1. Aaishah says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with you. These laws do not just affect those in Christian polygynous marriages but other faiths as well. Muslims, in America, are not as open when it comes to speaking about their polygnous practices but theoretically we are potentially as liable for persecution for this “non traditional” marriage choice as any other faith. Kudos to the Browns and I wish them success with this lawsuit.

  2. Rene says:

    I only know of plural marriage by what I see on tv. I really enjoy the brown family and I watch weekly hoping they are able to purchase those 4 side by side homes in Vegas and build one big fence around it so the kids can freely roam the backyards (In fact the HGTV show Yard Crashers should design a yard for them!). I don’t believe in my husband having another wife. I do believe in each family finding what works for them! And I must say as a Christian I see them doing their best to raise their children with the same values I was raised with. And raising good people. Although there is some concern about the younger members of the family being raised in the spotlight, there aren’t many studies on how that will effect them in coming years.

  3. Melinda says:

    I just want to say that it’s very hard for a woman that’s lived with abuse from her husband to come forward and let it be known. I was told by officers to just not make him mad. I agreed but there was nothing I could do right. There was one time he couldn’t find Tue remote. Id just gave birth and had a 11 month old. Both were sleeping cuddled upbto me. Well my ex husband came into the room at 4am and woke me up asking me where it was and I didn’t know so he went to the fridge and got this huge jug of water came back and dumped it all over my babies and myself. Saying “maybe this will spark your memory” he yelled at me to clean up the mess and I was trying to calm my babies that were wet with cold water. I wasn’t moving fast enough so he flipped the bed throwing my babies and myself and having it all land on top of us. That wasn’t enough for him so he locked me outside on the 2nd floor balcony in Feb setting my cold and crying babies by the door. I was out there for over a hour and frozen.when he let me back in I grabbed my babies and the car keys and ran. I went to my moms house cold wet and crying. I knew that if I didn’t get back he’d be late for work and remembered what he had said if I ever left him so I went back. See just re telling that one small story has me in tears. I still feel the shame of all of the abuse I went through. I truly believe that having multiple wives shouldn’t be a crime when there’s men out there like my ex husband walking around beating just one wife. Go after the abuse not the marriages, child brides should never be allowed into any marriage and it’s insane that they seem to only focus on them happening in polygamy when they happen in tears monogamous marriages as well. It’s a shame that in the land of the free we aren’t truly free to love how the lord guides us. It’s puzzling to me that you’d face more jail time then my ex go after the abuse was out and reported.

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