Judge Rules That Polygamy Is Only Technically Illegal in Utah


Polygamists in Utah are probably enjoying a whole weekend of non-alcoholic Jello shots after a U.S. District Court judge ruled Friday that parts of Utah’s polygamy laws are unconstitutional, effectively decriminalizing polygamy.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Judge Clark “My Surname Sounds Vaguely Onomatopoetic” Waddoups’s 91-page ruling criticizes parts of the Utah polygamy law making cohabitation illegal, explaining that the phrase “or cohabits with another person” is a violation of both the First and 14th amendments.

From the report:

Waddoups later writes that while there is no “fundamental right” to practice polygamy, the issue really comes down to “religious cohabitation.” In the 1800s — when the mainstream LDS Church still practiced polygamy — “religious cohabitation” in Utah could have actually resulted in “multiple purportedly legal marriages.” Today, however, simply living together doesn’t amount to being “married,” Waddoups writes.
“The court finds the cohabitation prong of the Statute unconstitutional on numerous grounds and strikes it,” Waddoups later writes.

Utah’s bigamy statute, therefore, remains intact in only the most literal way, i.e. if someone fraudulently acquires multiple marriage licenses.

The big winners in all this are, of course, our long-lost television companions, the Browns, from TLC’s Sister Wives. Waddoups’ ruling was the latest development in a lawsuit filed by the Brown family way back in 2011, coincidentally (OR NOT!) the same year that Big Love ended, which means all this legal drama is probably still some sort of elaborate marketing ploy to promote a Big Love movie in which Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, and Ginnifer Goodwin become professional matchmakers in Los Angeles, where they meet — TWIST — the Sex and the City crew. Hijinks ensue, and I’d be lying if I said those hijinks weren’t lousy with physical comedy pratfalls.

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