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State comes back swinging in Sister Wives case

Published September 28, 2012 7:56 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Government attorneys forcefully defended the state's right to outlaw polygamy today in their latest motion in the "Sister Wives" case.

(You may remember how they got slammed by the federal judge at the last hearing in this case).

Pointing to abuses reported within the Warren Jeffs-led FLDS, the Kingston group, and, yes, the Sister Wives' AUB, Assistant Attorney General Jerrold Jensen wrote "the practice of polygamy is harmful to society" and the law "protect[s] women and children."

Friday's motion also draws a legal line between private sexual relations and the institution of marriage. The Sister Wives want the law struck down, and they are basing their argument primarily on the legal right to privacy, the same principle that struck down Texas' sodomy law criminalizing homosexual relationships in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case.

"Lawrence is not about marriage," the motion read. "It is about adults engaging in private, consensual sexual activity. Lawrence does not grant or even begin to breach the subject of a fundamental right to have multiple, simultaneous marriage partners."

A couple more choice quotes from the motion:

• "Utah's bigamy statute merely draws the line at the number of spouses a person may have at any one time…it does not interfere with the fundamental right to marry, prohibit anyone from marrying, nor does it intrude on the right to choose one's marriage partner."

• "As a function of its police powers, a state legislature makes value judgments about a whole host of things."

Read the motion for yourself. What do you think?