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Around 100,000 practice polygamy today in the country. A Christian ministry helps women exit these type of unions.
A 'polygamous family' says the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage shows that laws restricting consensual adult relationships are outdated, even if certain unions are "unpopular".
Kody Brown and his four wives argue in court documents that their reality TV show "Sister Wives" shows polygamous marriages can be as healthy as monogamous ones.
"The Browns were investigated and no crimes or harm was found in their plural family," attorney Jonathan Turley wrote in court documents filed in front of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
They are defending a legal victory they had in 2013, when a federal judge struck down key parts of Utah's law banning polygamy. Advocacy groups for polygamy and individual liberties called the ruling a significant decision that removed the threat of arrest for the state's plural families.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes appealed, saying courts have long upheld laws banning polygamy because they prevent abuse of women and children.
Unlike same-sex marriage advocates, the Browns are not seeking full legal recognition of polygamous marriages.
"This case is about criminalisation of consensual relations and there are 21st century cases rather than 19th century cases," Turley stated in the 79-page filing. "It is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to coerce or punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions", he added.
NOT AN ISOLATED CASE
Another man, from the state of Montana, said that U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage inspired him to apply for a marriage license so that he legally can wed his second partner.
Nathan Collier and his 'wives', Victoria and Christine, applied for the license at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings last week, in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage.
Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.
"It's about marriage equality," Collier told the Associated Press. "You can't have this without polygamy."
They have received the support of the Cato Institute: the libertarian think tank is asking for the state’s polygamy ban to be struck down, arguing Utah is criminalizing freedom of speech.
In a “friend of the court” brief before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, the Cato Institute accuses the state of criminally punishing speech.
“SISTER WIVES”, A POLYGAMOUS REALITY SHOW
The TLC television network first aired "Sister Wives" in 2010 and it begins a new season on September 13th.
The Brown family and their 17 children, who formerly lived in Lehi, Utah, but now are in Las Vegas, are members of the Apostolic United Brethren, a Utah-based church that follows plural marriage doctrine.
POLYGAMY, A REALITY IN USA NOWADAYS
It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 Mormon Fundamentalists living in North America, most of them in the Intermountain western states (Utah, Idaho, and Arizona, Nevada), but many are located in other states across the nation, as well as in Canada and Mexico.
Only 30,000 openly report themselves as Mormon Fundamentalists, because most practicing Fundamentalists prefer not to disclose their lifestyles.
"Mormon Fundamentalist" is a term that is used to describe a particular religious group or sect (or individual) who espouses the “Mormon scriptures and who follow the original teachings of Mormonism's early leaders, such as Joseph Smith.
They practice polygamy and the "United Order" which is a form of religious communism, in which the leadership exercises partial or even absolute authority over all members' assets.
Mainstream Mormonism, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), abandoned polygamy in 1890, because of political pressure from the US Government. Today, the practice of polygamy in the LDS church is a reason to be excommunicated.
CHRISTIAN MINISTRY HELPS LEAVING POLIGAMY
Leaving polygamous relationships is very difficult, especially for women with children, due to the secrecy and culture of many of the closed communities which practice it.
But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and that is what Doris Hansen, a former fundamentalist, thought when she founded “A Shield and Refuge Ministry”, a Christian ministry based in Utah, which aims “to bear the good news of Jesus, and to be an agent of freedom and restoration, for those seeking liberty from the physical, emotional, and spiritual bondage of polygamy and Mormon fundamentalism.”
They provide information about polygamy, support victims and their families, and also help people to exit polygamous environments.
The ministry´s last project is called “The Hagar Home”, a shelter for women who have left polygamy and are not prepared to start a life by their own.
Following Isaiah 61:1-2, Shield and Refuge Ministry, with many former members of polygamist groups, “understands the life, the needs, and the hearts of Mormon fundamentalists, and knows that, just like each of us, and the rest of the world, they need Jesus too”.