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Policy: Law

Utah governor distances himself from pro-polygamy court ruling

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Utah’s governor has spoken out against a polygamy-friendly court ruling, taking a side in a debate that could become extraordinarily polarizing.

"I think it's probably not good policy and good practice for families to have that kind of a situation, so that's my own provincial view of traditional marriage," Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday, according to an AP report.

His comment came in the wake of a ruling in favor of the polygamous family featured on TLC’s show "Sister Wives." That ruling, from a federal judge, struck down part of the state’s anti-bigamy statute on religious freedom grounds.

The family in question is helmed by Kody Brown, a flaxen-locked polygamist. According to the Brown family’s official website, he and his four wives have 17 children total whom they promise to support, “[e]ven if they choose not to enter into a plural family.

“We also embrace the ideals of freedom of choice, charity towards all people, a personal relationship with God and having a Christ-like attitude towards others, loving and accepting them where they are,” the site says.

Polygamy isn’t a new concept to most Americans. Though it’s technically illegal — the GOP platform of 1856 declared it one of the “twin relics of barbarism,” along with slavery — the AP reports that pro-polygamy group Principle Voices says that there are about 38,000 fundamentalist Mormons in America who practice polygamy or believe in it.


Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (AP)
Jon Krakauer explored the modern-day phenomena in his 2003 bestseller Under the Banner of Heaven, and HBO’s show "Big Love" also highlighted the practice.

Despite the church’s disavowal of polygamy in the late 19th century — church president Wilford Woodruff said he had a vision in which God told him the church should forbid it — it’s been a persistent PR problem for the Mormon church. George Romney, the former governor of Michigan and father of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, was born in a polygamist colony in Mexico.

Editor's note: Wilford Woodruff is not a known relative of Washington Examiner Political Writer Betsy Woodruff.

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Betsy Woodruff

Political Writer
The Washington Examiner

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