On January 17, 2013, a federal judge in the state of Utah will hear motions on whether to dismiss or proceed with a lawsuit filed by Kody Brown and family, stars of the TLC show "Sister Wives,” challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s law banning polygamy.
The polygamous family has sued Utah and Utah County, the county they fled from, hoping to persuade the federal judge to pave the way for the decriminalization a way of life for tens of thousands of self-described Mormon fundamentalists, most of whom live in Utah.
The polygamous lifestyle presented by TLC's "Sister Wives" TV show is entertainment, if not propaganda, and it does not reflect the reality of thousands of residents of residents of Utah and beyond who have suffered agonizing abuses, monumental losses, and even a violation of human rights due to the lack of enforcement of the state's mandatory prohibition on polygamy.
After reviewing the world's most comprehensive judicial treatment of the legal status of polygamy, Canadian Chief Justice Bauman declared in December 2011, that a prohibition on polygamy was strongly justified because it is "inevitably associated with serious harms" and "inherently harmful," particularly to women and children, even in the absence of fraud, violence or abuse.
The Canadian Court ruling is here: http://stoppolygamy.com/court-decision-on-polygamy/
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has repeatedly taken a strong stance against polygamy, not just because of the "serious emotional and financial consequences" for a plural wife and her dependents, but also because it "contravenes a woman's right to equality with men."
In fact, in February 2012, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) even instructed Kenya to abolish polygamy within 2 years.
“Shape up. That’s the simple message, on the way we treat women, from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women...
Polygamy is a deeply ingrained cultural practice. However, the committee wants Kenya to ‘bring all marriage laws under the prohibition of polygamy’.”
Kenya is a Third World Country!
What about Utah?
In May 2012, Utah politicians chose to ignore the extensive research and conclusions of the Canada court, disregard the admonition of the United Nations, go against the trend for nations around the globe to outlaw polygamy, and forget that United Nations considers polygamy a form of discrimination against women. Instead, the Utah County Attorney (where the Brown’s resided), under the direction of the Utah Attorney General, publicly embraced the felony of polygamy as defined in Utah legal code when they announced the effective decriminalization of polygamy as a matter of policy.
Utah Legal Code Section 76-7-101(1) declaring polygamy a felony is here:
The Utah County Attorney’s new policy which overrides Utah law is here:
The exacting wording of the Utah County policy is:
"As Utah County Attorney, I have now adopted a formal office policy not to prosecute the practice of bigamy unless the bigamy occurs in conjunction with another crime..."
The policy, as officially adopted by the Utah County Attorney’s Office, states:
Prosecution of Bigamy Crimes:
“The Utah County Attorney’s Office will prosecute the crime of bigamy under the Section 76-7-101 (1) in two circumstances:
(1) When a victim is induced to marry through their partner’s fraud, misrepresentations or omissions; or
(2) When a person purports to marry or cohabits with another person in violation of Section 76-7-101 (1) and is also engaged in some type of abuse, violence or fraud...
This policy is intended, under the prosecutorial discretion exercised by this Office, to prevent the future prosecution in Utah County of bigamous marriages entered into for religious reasons.” [Case2:11-cv-00652-CW-BCW Document 47-1 5/31/12 Pg. 3]
By formally adopting a policy of apathy, Utah has not only taken women's rights backwards, they have also flagrantly violated their own state constitution.
Utah State Constitution, Article 3 Section 1
“The following ordinance shall be irrevocable without the consent of the United States and the people of this State:
[Religious toleration -- Polygamy forbidden.]
First: -- Perfect toleration of religious sentiment is guaranteed. No inhabitant of this State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; but polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited.”
PROBLEM: NO CONSENT ACHIEVED
The Utah Constitution which mandated the criminalization of polygamy, forever, as a condition of statehood, declared the ordinance prohibiting polygamy to be "irrevocable without the consent of the United States and the people of this State."
When the Utah Attorney General and the Utah County Attorney announced the effective decriminalization of the felony of polygamy as a matter of policy, these politicians overstepped the constitutional requirement to receive the consent of the people of the state of Utah and the consent of the United States. No such consent was achieved, and those who sign this petition provide further evidence of that.
By disregarding the laws in the state constitution, the State of Utah has not only failed in its duty to protect its citizens, but has created an environment where the discrimination and victimization of women is rampant; human rights violations have skyrocketed to epidemic proportions; and predators are not only free to reign, but are protected from prosecution. This is unacceptable in the modern world.
To override the State Constitution and adopt a public policy to allow polygamy without the consent of the people of Utah and the United States, is a reckless violation of fiduciary duty as an elected official that is certain to result in more damage, suffering and financial losses of thousands of victims of polygamy.
CALL TO ACTION
We understand that the Utah County Attorney's office has now provided a powerful response to the Brown's lawsuit, and by so doing, has taken a stand against the legalization of polygamy. We applaud this and support this, but we also urge further action steps.
We, the citizens of Utah, the citizens of the United States, and the citizens of humanity, have signed this petition to show that we do not consent to the decriminalization of polygamy in Utah, and we beg, urge, and demand for the office of the Utah Attorney General and the Utah County to Attorney::
1. To immediately remedy its failure to abide by the Utah State Constitution and stop allowing the felony of polygamy to run rampant.
2. To stop misleading the public and misuing the power of its office by claiming it has "prosecutorial discretion" to announce a generalized refusal to enforce a legitimate law, when in fact "prosecutorial discretion" is designed to allow prosecutors to weigh the merits and make decisions regarding specific cases.
3. To immediately and officially reverse the "official" policy on the decriminalization of polygamy.
Voices for Dignity
Sound Choices Coalition