Reality TV polygamist sparks legal battle

Jul 14, 2011

Kody Brown might be one of the most famous polygamists in the country. As one of the stars of the show Sister Wives, he, his four wives and their sixteen children and stepchildren have been featured prominently on TVs across America. Now, Utah state officials are saying the family is under investigation for violating state polygamy laws. In response, the Browns, along with law professor Jonathan Turley, plan on filing a lawsuit to challenge the law. They contend that making polygamy illegal violates the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses and the First Amendment’s clauses of free exercise, establishment, free speech and freedom of association. They build their case on the decision of Lawrence v. Texas, which took down sodomy laws and is often used as a legal basis for support of same-sex marriage. Browns and others like them feel that polygamous unions should be allowed for consenting adults. Opponents fear that allowing multiple marriages could have a profound negative effect on the raising of children, spousal relations and would require a complete restructuring of family law. Is polygamy too outdated for the modern age? Can adults be trusted to live as they desire? How would a change in marriage structure affect society and public policy?

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