We’re in the midst of a culture war over gay marriage, with some states passing amendments defining traditionally and others opening it up to gay and lesbian couples. California is still recovering from the Proposition 8 battle, and indeed, that case is still up on appeal.
Meanwhile, the polygamists decide to get in on the action. And not just any polygamists–reality show polygamists. If men can marry men, and women can marry women, why can’t men marry multiple women? We’re all consenting adults, right?
And, anyway, why is it any of your business?
Any surprise, then, that the complaint was filed in Salt Lake City?
Saying the country is at a “critical moment,” an attorney for the polygamous family who stars in the reality show “Sister Wives” argued Wednesday that American adults — including Kody Brown and his four wives — have a right to privacy in their intimate relationships.
“We can’t embrace privacy as a principle and pick and choose who can enjoy it,”said Jonathan Turley in a press conference outside Salt Lake City’s federal courthouse. “Now, this family doesn’t look like a lot of families in Utah, but it’s not your family. It’s their family.”
That’s right. Because there is a constitutional right to have a reality show about yourself and keep your privacy at the same time. It’s right there, somewhere in the penumbra between the 28th and 29th amendments to the federal constitution, I’m sure…
Which is exactly why the five Browns (no, not the pianists, who also happen to be from Utah) are living in an undisclosed location in Nevada, not in Utah. Apparently, they didn’t like the publicity that their reality television show had created. Especially when the show revealed their violation of the law.
Attorney Jonathon Turley, who also represented various Members of Congress in their suit against the President for violations of the War Powers Act, filed suit on their behalf in federal court in Utah. He said on his blog that
We believe that this case represents the strongest factual and legal basis for a challenge to the criminalization of polygamy ever filed in the federal courts. We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. 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. This action seeks to protect one of the defining principles of this country, what Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the right to be left alone.’
Geez, Turley. Where were you 1878 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Constitution did not protect polygamy in Utah Territory (Reynolds v. United States), upholding the 1862 Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act that outlawed polygamy for the first time? Or in 1882 when it became a felony (rather than just grounds to lose the right to vote, hold office, or sit on a jury, like the Morrill had done)? Or 1887 when the federal government tried to dissolve an entire religion, seize its property, and take the vote away from Utah women (who from 1870 could vote in Utah, one of the first places in the contiguous 48 the vote was extended to women) because of it? This all to a people who had literally left the borders of the United States for the desert to be “left alone.”
But I digress. This isn’t supposed to be a history of Utah and the lack of “gentile” attorneys seeking to protect privacy rights of oppressed people during the later half of the 19th century. That’s all water under the bridge…
This is not about people who want to be left alone. This is about the Browns–who have actively sought attention by asking the world to watch them raise their family (or families? Not sure…) ON CABLE TELEVISION. The Browns were very much “left alone” until they put their life on display on TLC for THE WHOLE WORLD TO WATCH. Only then, as they were flagrantly displaying their “alternative” lifestyle to the world for a profit, did law enforcement look in to the matter.
What were they thinking? That no one would notice? Or care?
Forehead, meet Palm.
Again, we’re talking the “principle of privacy,” here, right? If you want to keep what’s in the bedroom, and who is in there, in the bedroom, then you best keep the bedroom door closed. If you open it, you better believe someone’s going to complain. Especially if you are breaking the law.
APROPOS: the complaint can be found here. It makes seven claims for relief (Due Process, Equal Protection, Free Exercise, Free Speech, Freedom of Association, Establishment of Religion, and on 42 U.S.C. § 1983).
- Brown Family To File Challenge To The Criminalization of Polygamy In Utah (jonathanturley.org)
- Polygamists Challenge Utah’s Anti-Polygamy Law (huffingtonpost.com)
- Polygamist reality TV family to challenge bigamy law (ctv.ca)
- Star Of “Sister Wives” To Challenge Constitutionality Of Utah’s Anti-Polygamy Law (outsidethebeltway.com)