Kody Brown, his four wives and their 16 children have been under investigation since “coming out of the closet” as polygamists on TLC’s reality show “Sister Wives.” But now the Brown family plans to challenge the polygamy law under which they are being investigated, as they are expected to file a lawsuit Wednesday (July 13).
The lawsuit will not be seeking that the U.S. recognize polygamous marriages. Instead, it will be challenging the law against polygamy as unconstitutional, citing the 2003 United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled that laws against sodomy are unconstitutional invasions in to the intimate conduct of consenting adults. The Brown lawsuit will argue laws against polygamy are the same.
The lawsuit will ask that the federal courts mandate that states cannot punish polygamists for their private conduct so long as they are not breaking other laws, like laws regarding incest, child abuse or seeking multiple marriage licenses. Kody Brown is only legally married to Meri, his first wife. The other three women are “sister wives” and not legally married to Kody, though there are common-law marriage laws in Utah that are based around co-habitation. The Brown family has since moved to Nevada, where common-law marriages have not been recognized since 1943.
Brown says in a statement, “We only wish to live our private lives according to our beliefs.”