Polygamist Argues Polygamy is a Constitutional Right

Polygamist Argues Polygamy is a Constitutional Right

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- The attorney for a former police officer convicted of bigamy and illegal sex with an underage girl has filed a brief with the Utah Supreme Court arguing that polygamy is a constitutional right.

Rodney Holm, a former police officer in the polygamous community of Hildale, was found guilty in August and sentenced to serve a year in jail.

In a 115-page brief, attorney Rodney Parker wrote that monogamy was the minority way of live worldwide, and that critics of polygamy overstate its problems.

"Current demographics, domestic relations law, and religious diversity all accomodate plural marriage," Parker wrote. "Popular departure from traditional marriage has made our domestic laws on cohabitation and fornication anachronistic."

Holm's conviction stemmed from his union with a third wife, Ruth Stubbs, who was 16 at the time of the plural marriage performed by leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Holm, who was 32 at the time, also is married to Stubbs' older sister, Suzie, and a second wife, Wendy.

In the brief, filed Wednesday, Parker argues that Mormon women have consistently voted to retain multiple marriage -- rejecting a common claim that it ammounts to women's enslavement

However, prosecutors contend that there is no constitional right to have sex with a minor, and say polygamy can mean forced marriage and child spousal abuse.

Polygamy was part of the early beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but was abandoned more than a century ago. The Mormon church excommunicates those who advocate it.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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