They're fighting for their family. Kody Brown and other stars from hit reality TV show Sister Wives joined a rally on Friday, February 10, to protest a bill that would keep polygamy a felony in Utah.
Brown, 48, told the Salt Lake Tribune that he and his family decided to make a public appearance in Utah — which they have previously avoided for fear of persecution — because he feels it is important for people to understand what polygamy is.
“Stop prosecuting consenting adults,” he told the paper. According to Brown, keeping polygamy a crime may prevent members of polygamous families from calling ambulances or social services for fear of punishment or separation.
Brown is the husband of wives Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn, and their TLC show chronicles the very large extended family’s day-to-day living. Brown and his wives previously sued Utah over its historic ban on polygamy, arguing that it violated their rights to religious freedom and privacy.
“In Las Vegas, I can say, ‘This is my wife, this is my wife, this is my wife,’” Brown said in an interview with local station FOX 13. “In Utah, once I reach that, it’s an infraction of the law.… We’re safe in Nevada. It’s essentially a beautiful exile. We’re coming here so the plural families in Utah can survive and thrive.… Government loves power and so does religion.”
Bill HB99 would change the definition of bigamy to say someone is guilty if he or she "purports" to marry two or more people and cohabits with them. Polygamy would remain a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, as many as 200 protesters turned out to oppose the HB99 bill, including those who oppose polygamy, such as a film crew for Escaping Polygamy, a reality show about people fleeing the abuse of polygamous sects.
Jessica Christensen, a former member of the Kingston polygamous family, told Fox 13, “Most of the polygamists are not innocent polygamists. We represent the true victims of polygamy."
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