By Lindsay Whitehurst
The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah’s complicated history with polygamy will start a new chapter Wednesday when an attorney for a reality-show family says he will file a lawsuit that could send the state’s ban on plural marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Until the 1890s, marriage between one man and multiple women was permitted by the Latter-Day Saints or “Mormons” and was legal in the Utah territory. However, it was banned in the 1890s as an informal requirement for Utah’s statehood.
Nationally-known constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley said the lawsuit to be filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City will not call for plural marriages to be recognized by the state. Instead, it asks for polygamy between consenting adults like his clients, former Utahn Kody Brown and his wives, to no longer be considered a crime.
“We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs,” Turley said in a press release.
The Browns star in the TLC network show “Sister Wives.” There is no word yet on whether they will appear in a press conference scheduled for Wednesday.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said the country’s ongoing legal wrangling over same-sex marriage will necessarily grow to include plural marriage — quite possibly centered around this case.
“I’m confident that we can [defend] a challenge all the way to the Supreme Court,” Shurtleff said.