As Kody Brown and his Sister Wives continuously risk their freedom for the right to live as polygamists, one of his partners is speaking out about the intimidating legal fight.
Meri Brown, one of four wives to Kody, sounded off on Twitter after Sunday's episode showed the family once again putting their freedom on the line to maintain their unconventional lifestyle.
"After years of silence, it was so liberating to start telling our story. First about our family, and now about our battle with Utah," she said, adding hashtags for "#NotHidingAnymore #FamiliesNotFelons #SisterWives."
The family first allowed TLC cameras to document their polygamist lifestyles on the reality TV series Sister Wives in 2010, and the show is now in its twelfth season. Since polygamy — the practice of a man claiming multiple wives — is illegal in all 50 states in America, including their home state of Utah, the family risks felony charges by publicly declaring their choice to live as a combined family unit.
Kody attempted to change the laws by filing the Brown v. Buhman lawsuit to fight back against Utah's bigamy position, but the case was dismissed in the U.S. Court of Appeals. The court ruled in 2016 that because Utah officials typically don't pursue polygamists within the state unless another crime — like welfare fraud or sexual misconduct — is associated with it, the Browns lacked legal standing as they had no credible fear of persecution.
But Kody, Meri and her sister wives risked their freedom again to publicly declare their polygamist lifestyles during a pro-polygamy march and rally. By outing themselves as polygamists during the public event on Sunday's episode, they risked being charged with a felony and its subsequent five-year prison sentence.
"Yeah, I feel like that we could be thrown in jail," Meri said in her confessional clip on Sunday. "There's a chance it could happen, but I don't wanna back down because I'm scared."
On the episode, Kody and his wives learned that the Supreme Court opted not to hear their case seeking to decriminalize polygamy, which didn't sit well with the happy, blended family.
"Why are polygamists still marginalized? Because one segment of polygamy has a sexual abuse problem? Well then prosecute the sexual abuse then! Leave me out of it!" Kody said.
"They're always looking down their noses at the polygamists. We're always small, little people to them," he continued. "I am aching in my heart for my freedom. I am aching for my liberty… We're not all pedophiles and perverts and abusers and welfare frauds."
The family belongs to the Apostolic United Brethren, a Mormon fundamentalist group that supports the polygamist lifestyle. Brown is currently married to four women — Meri Caroline Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Ruth Brown and Robyn Alice Brown. Together the five have 18 children.