POSTED: 05:39 a.m. HST, Oct 21, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 05:47 a.m. HST, Oct 21, 2012
LAS VEGAS >> Kody Brown and his four wives say they found what they were looking for when they moved from Utah to Las Vegas last year: acceptance.
The stars of the TLC show "Sister Wives told an overflow crowd of 300 people at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas this week that while plural marriage is not for everyone, it can be a healthy and happy choice for some.
The Browns, who fled to Nevada after facing the threat of legal prosecution in Utah, said they empathize with proponents of same-sex marriage.
"I believe that I was able to choose our family structure," Kody Brown said. "It should be the right of every citizen in this country to be able to choose their family structure."
He praised Las Vegas, saying its diversity has made the family feel welcome.
"We've found grace in Sin City, where there's a lowering of hypocrisy," he said. "In Las Vegas, you feel like you can own who you are."
Monday night's panel discussion marked the first major public speaking engagement in Las Vegas for Brown and wives Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn, the Las Vegas Sun reported (http://bit.ly/V6iRtw ).
The event was co-sponsored by UNLV's Office of Civic Engagement and Diversity, and Office of Diversity Initiatives. The family was invited to take part after speaking to three psychology classes as part of a student project.
"Everyone's house is different," UNLV assistant professor Markie Blumer said, whether because of sexual orientation or cultural, economic and religious backgrounds. "We believe it is a community value to welcome diversity in all its forms."
The Browns have sued Utah and the county they fled from, hoping to persuade a federal judge to overturn the state's bigamy law as unconstitutional.
The case could potentially decriminalize a way of life for tens of thousands of Mormon fundamentalists practicing polygamy, most of whom live in Utah.
The state, meanwhile, has publicly said it won't prosecute consenting adult polygamists unless there are other crimes involved, but insists the law doesn't overreach.