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    Sister Wives Clan Goes A-Courtin' Over Utah Polygamy Laws

    Sister Wives TLC

    The family that sues together, stays together.

    The polygamous clan at the center of TLC's hit reality series Sister Wives—headed by patriarch Kody Brown—is filing a lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court that will challenge Utah's polygamy laws.

    How's that for keeping the faith?

    MORE: Sister Wives Take Their Big Love to the Silver State

    Per the Salt Lake City Tribune, Brown and wives Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn are suing not to demand that Utah recognize polygamous marriages, but rather to get the court to strike down state sodomy laws that punish polygamists for their own "intimate contact."

    As Brown is only legally married to Meri and the other three "sister wives" are so-called "commitments," the fundamentalist Mormon family believes Utah is intruding on their personal lives as consenting adults.

    That's because authorities in Utah County have had them under investigation since the fall, when their show debuted, and are mulling whether to charge Kody and his wives with bigamy—a felony that could net him up to 20 years in prison and each of the wives up to five years.

    The main thrust of the Browns' argument is that they should be allowed to continue with their arrangement—which also includes their 21-strong brood—as long as they are not violating other laws such as child abuse, incest or obtaining multiple marriage licenses.

    But here's where their concept of family values runs up against the reality. When the show premiered last September on the cable channel, experts predicted Kody and his wives may open themselves up to criminal prosecution. That's because the fact that the Browns have been cohabitating for 16 years would make their Big Love officially non-marriage civil unions under Utah law.

    Kody and company hope to change that and make polygamy as acceptable as apple pie—or better yet, acceptable under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits local and state governments from depriving people of life, liberty and property without due process and equal protection. 

    "We only wish to live our private lives according to our beliefs," said the patriarch in a statement.

    The Browns agreed to let themselves be filmed for the series in part to alter the public's perception about polygamy and see a more positive side.

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