The Brown family has friends in influential places! As we saw in the Feb. 25 episode of TLC’s Sister Wives, Kody and his wives got an invitation to come home to Utah from their friend Joe Darger, another polygamy activist. Joe wanted the Browns to return to Utah to protest the state’s anti-polygamy legislation, but the family had a dilemma on their hands. They’ve been living in Las Vegas since 2011, and if they went home, they would risk getting arrested.
Like the Browns, the Dargers are another famous polygamist family. Joe and his wives — Vicky, Valerie, and Alina — took their plural lifestyle public in 2011 with their memoir, Love Times Three. In that book, the Dargers said they inspired HBO’s Big Love, a polygamy drama starring Bill Paxton. And there are indeed certain similarities. In the show, for example, Bill Hendrickson ran a hardware store; and in real life, Joe sold building supplies for years, as The Salt Lake Tribune pointed out.
Joe married Alina and Vicky on the same day in 1990. Ten years later, he married Valerie, Vicky’s twin sister. Together, Joe and his wives are raising 25 children in Herriman, UT. Last year, Joe announced his mayoral bid, saying he was running because he wanted to make the city of Herriman better, not because he wanted to challenge anti-polygamists like Big Love‘s Bill did when he became a state senator. “There’s no question I would love to see that [bigamy] law challenged,” he told the Tribune. “But that’s not why I’m doing this.”
The Dargers are also TV stars in their own right. We’ve seen them on the TLC special My Three Wives, as well as prior installments of Sister Wives. In this latest episode, Joe and the Browns set up a conference call to talk about the protest over the phone. On the phone, Joe said politicians need to decriminalize polygamists. And Kody added, “Make it so we can run for office, Joe. Make it so polygamists can hold office … I’m aching for my liberty.”
This protest also wasn’t the first time the Browns tussled with their home state’s legal system. In 2011, Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn sued the Utah County Attorney over Utah’s criminal polygamy law. And they won, with a district judge ruling the laws prohibiting multiple cohabitation are unconstitutional. But that same lawsuit was dismissed two years later after an appeals court asserted the Browns couldn’t file the suit because they hadn’t been arrested or prosecuted.
Unfortunately for the Browns and the Dargers, the bigamy bill they protested later passed Utah’s House and Senate and went into effect in May. But we’re sure the families haven’t given up!
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