A federal appeals court will review a ruling that struck down parts of Utah's anti-polygamy law and was hailed as a landmark decision removing the threat of arrest for plural families in Utah. The Utah attorney general's office filed an appeal Thursday with the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, two weeks after it said it would challenge the ruling.
The lawsuit was brought by the family on the TLC reality TV show "Sister Wives." In December, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled in favor of Kody Brown and his four wives, saying a provision of the law forbidding cohabitation violated the family's freedom of religion.
Waddoups' ruling decriminalized polygamy, but bigamy — holding marriage licenses with multiple partners — is still illegal. If the ruling stands, Utah's law would be identical to most other states that prohibit people from having multiple marriage licenses. In most polygamous families in Utah, the man is legally married to one woman but only "spiritually married" to the others.
Parker Douglas, chief of staff for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, said the state is appealing to ensure prosecutors aren't hamstrung when they need to go after polygamous families where abuse may be occurring.
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