Utah’s current polygamy law is already stricter than laws in other states because it bars married people from living with a second purported “spiritual spouse” even if the man is legally married to just one woman.
Under a new law signed late Tuesday night by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert over objections from plural families, polygamists would face harsher punishments if they are convicted of other crimes such as domestic abuse or fraud.
The measure passed by one vote in the final minutes of Utah’s legislative session following several dramatic hearings on the topic and a protest rally in which the family from the TV reality show “Sister Wives” and several hundred others spoke out against what they said were attempts to infringe on their rights to live plural marriages.
Kody Brown and his four wives are suing over the law, which they say violates their constitutional rights.
In court documents filed Monday, they pushed back against a ruling that found they can't challenge the law in court because they never faced criminal charges under it.
The Browns say the threat of prosecution forced them to flee to Nevada and still hangs over their heads when they visit Utah.
They're asking the 12 judges on the full 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to review the ruling from a three-judge panel. The panel reversed a decision that struck down key parts of Utah's bigamy law.