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The Polygamy Blog
Nate Carlisle
Reporter Nate Carlisle and photographer Trent Nelson cover polygamy for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow the Polygamy Blog on Twitter at @tribunepolygamy. Follow Nate Carlisle on Twitter at @natecarlisle. Follow Trent Nelson on Twitter at @trenthead.

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Kody Brown, right, with "sister wives" Christine, left, Meri, Robyn and Janelle. The Brown family says Utah's bigamy statute is unconstitutional and is suing the state. (Courtesy Joe Pugliese for TLC)
State comes back swinging in Sister Wives case

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).

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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?

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