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Janelle Brown celebrates decriminalization of polygamy in Utah

Janelle on Sister Wives.
Janelle on Sister Wives. Pic credit: TLC

Janelle Brown is the second of Kody Brown’s four wives and one of the stars of TLC’s Sister Wives.

The Browns were chosen to be a part of the show because of their unconventional family structure. The Browns are polygamists and believe in the practice because of their fundamentalist LDS church.

At the beginning of the series, the family lived in Lehi, Utah. But nearly 10 years ago, the family was forced to move out of Utah due to fears of being prosecuted for polygamy, which was a crime there.

They relocated to Las Vegas for several years and now reside in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Polygamy is almost not illegal in Utah

On Saturday, the Utah governor signed Senate Bill 102 into law. The bill doesn’t legalize polygamy, but it reduces the crime among consenting adults to an infraction, which is similar to a traffic ticket.

The state of Utah has a constitutional prohibition on polygamy, so it cannot fully legalize the practice. Utah was required to criminalize polygamy to become a state.

However, the bill makes breaking that law a very minor offense so that polygamist families can live with much less fear than before.

The Brown family has always distanced itself from religious sects like Warren Jeffs’ cult, which encouraged the polygamous marriage and abuse of underage girls.

Janelle celebrated the bill, but was quick to point out that it does not condone abuse — the infraction is only seen as minor if the relationship is between consenting adults.

Child abuse will still be fully prosecuted.

Overall, though, it’s great news for the Browns, who have long fought for recognition of their family structure.

The family is growing quickly

There are 18 children between Kody and his four wives. The kids range in age from 4-25, and the five oldest are all either married or engaged.

Thus far, none of the Brown children have expressed a desire to follow in their parents’ polygamist footsteps. Maddie, Janelle and Kody’s oldest daughter, was the first to get married and the first to have children.

She now has two, Evangalynn and Axel, who are the only grandchildren in the family so far.

Meri and Kody’s only child Mariah was engaged most recently. Mariah came out as gay to her parents in 2016 and began dating Audrey Kriss shortly afterward.

The two got engaged at the Women’s March last January.

So while there may not be any additional polygamists in the Brown family, they can now travel freely to their home state of Utah without fear of breaking the law.

Sister Wives airs on Sundays at 10/9c on TLC.


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