TLC — the channel that brings you the 19 kids of the Duggar Family, Kate Plus 8 and Sister Wives — now faces reality show participants’ prosecution under bigamy statutes. Will the court proceedings become part of the Sister Wives show?
Sister Wives: The Real Story of Polygamy in America
Kody Brown is the husband. He is married to Janelle, Christine and Meri. Technically speaking, Kody is guilty of polygamy. Sister Wives is not without its drama. Although a stable foursome for 16 years, a fourth bride has caught Kody’s wandering eye. She brings three more children into the home.
The State of Utah, unable to ignore the public flaunting of its anti-polygamy laws, has decided to take legal action against the sister wives. E! Online reports that law enforcement is investigating the family for felony bigamy (not polygamy).
According to TLC, Kody and Meri are legally married (at least their relationship has lasted the longest). It is unclear if the other sister wives, who self-identify as also having been married, had legally binding marriages performed or merely commitment ceremonies. If indeed all the sister wives are legally married to Kody, would he not be guilty of polygamy? After all, Cornell defines bigamy as “marrying someone while lawfully married to another.”
Should Bigamy be a Crime? A Sex Offense?
Cartmel College researchers posed the question whether bigamy should truly be considered a crime. Researching the criminal dealings of 42 bigamists who were convicted in 1973, the 32-year study outlines that their criminal behavior is much more in line with white-collar criminals than sex offenders. The researchers found that bigamy was truly more a crime of deception.
The odd tale of Emily Horne and her five husbands would lend some credence to this theory. The British serial bride concocted an elaborate web of lies and situational truths that netted her five husbands, four of whom were obviously not legal.
ACLU Decries Utah Bigamy Statute as Violating the Constitution
The ACLU agrees that bigamy prosecution might just be unconstitutional. Citing residents’ freedoms of religion, the ACLU held in 2006 that the Utah bigamy statute “criminalizes the practice of spiritual plural marriage between consenting adults” — in violation of the United States Constitution.
As America is already revising its opinion of — and participation in- – marriage, perhaps Sister Wives on TLC is not a show featuring oddball characters with peculiar living arrangements but instead the avant-garde of the next change in public sentiment.