On Friday afternoon, the “Sister Wives” stars returned to their home state of Utah to join hundreds of polygamous people and supporters to protest a bill that would keep polygamous marriage illegal and a felony.
“I’m a father, a husband, and a lover, NOT a felon,” read a sign held by husband Cody Brown.
The public appearance was the first the family has made in Utah since 2012. Cody, Meri, Janelle, Christine Robyn Brown and their children moved to Las Vegas in 2011 after they were essentially forced to leave the state of Utah out of fear they’d be arrested for their polygamous marriage.
Utah’s current polygamy law states that married couples cannot live with an extra spouse or have a “spiritual spouse.” Brown, who is legally married to one of his wives and spiritually married to the other three, attempted to challenge the law in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court but was declined.
The new bill would “adjust the definition of bigamy to say someone is guilty if he or she ‘purports’ to marry two or more people and cohabits with them.” It also calls for harsher penalties for those convicted under it if they are convicted of additional crimes, such as domestic or sexual abuse. However, those who leave polygamous relationships out of fear of harm would be exempt from prosecution.