December 16th, 2013
10:37 AM ET

Judge Strikes Down Part Of Utah Polygamy Law In 'Sister Wives' Case

A federal judge in Utah has struck down part of that state's law banning polygamy, after a lawsuit was brought by the stars of the television reality series "Sister Wives," reports CNN's Pamela Brown.

The ruling late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups threw out the law's section prohibiting "cohabitation," saying it violates constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.

But the judge said he would keep in place the ban on bigamy "in the literal sense - the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses for the purpose of entering into more than one purportedly legal marriage."

In other words, the ruling does not make polgamy legal. “It means families of multiple husbands or wives who live together but don't seek more  than one marriage license cannot be prosecuted," Brown reports.

Kody Brown, a Utah resident and his four wives - MeriJanelleChristine, and Robyn - who together have 17 children, and whose lives are chronicled on the TLC cable television program, are celebrating that because "plural families can now go out into public and be what they are and represent themselves for what they believe their faith demands,” says Jonathan Turley, attorney for Brown and his four wives. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

"They will not be subject to threats that their children will be taken away from them."

The 91-page decision comes months after the Supreme Court struck down a separate federal law that defined marriage as between only one man and one woman, a major legal, political, and social victory for homosexual couples seeking recognition of their same-sex unions.

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