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Appeal for polygamy decriminalization still up in the air

Published December 26, 2013 8:17 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah attorney general's office has still not decided if it will appeal the ground-breaking decision that effectively legalized polygamy in Utah.

Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet said Thursday evening that no final decisions had been made and his office is "still evaluating that case." The case began when Kody Brown and his wives, known from the TV show "Sister Wives," sued the state, alleging Utah's bigamy statute violated their constitutional rights.

On Dec. 13, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups sided with the Browns, striking down Utah's law against cohabitation. Though bigamy — i.e. getting multiple marriage licences — remains illegal, the decision effectively decriminalized polygamy as it is practiced by most fundamentalist Mormons, who typically seek only "spiritual marriages."

In the aftermath of the ruling, Gov. Gary Herbert promised to review the case. Waddoups' 91-page decision, which he took nearly a year to write, also seemed to hint that an appeal was the natural next step.

But Tarbet said Thursday his office isn't ready to take that step just yet. Tarbet pointed out that the court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah — which came a week after Waddoups' decision — had consumed his office's resources. Tarbet also said his office was awaiting some final filings from Waddoups.

According to Fox 13, incoming AG Sean Reyes said in an interview Thursday that his intention was to appeal Waddoups' decision. I also reached out to Reyes, but he said he was deferring to Tarbert, who, again, said no final decision had been made.

Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii