Four wives. Eighteen children. One husband. The “Sister Wives” family has officially moved to Flagstaff, Arizona. Kody Brown, the patriarch, indicated to the Associated Press that their family is in a period of transition right now, as they unpack heaps of boxes in the Arizona mountains at their new home. Recently relocated from Vegas, they decided to make the move to the more inclusive city of Flagstaff after living there in “exile” since 2011. The family left Utah in 2011 to flee to Las Vegas, after threat of prosecution following the premiere of their TLC show.
Flagstaff, a liberal college city located in the relatively conservative state of Arizona, is known for their “Live, and Let Live” attitude, which the family found welcoming. The City Council has passed resolutions that promote an environment of diversity and inclusion, and has a snowy winter season that residents welcome as a period when they can cool off after the desert heat.
In Utah, the family experienced discrimination due to being a plural family, and decided that returning to Utah was out of the question. Bigamy, or being married to more than one person, is illegal in the United States. In a state like Utah, heavily populated with Mormons, the law is stricter because of a unique part of the law that prevents people from living with a second so-called “spiritual spouse”.
The Browns, who consider themselves to be fundamentalist Mormons, are now happily residing in Arizona, due to the change in culture the city is known for. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abandoned the practice of polygamy in 1890, and prohibits it today. Brown, however, could not be charged with bigamy because he is only legally married to one woman, Robyn Brown. Brown says he is “spiritually married” to the other three women.
The Brown family bought four lots of property totaling 15 acres for $820,000, a few miles from downtown Flagstaff. The Brown says they plan to build a home, or several homes. They are currently living in four rentals throughout the Flagstaff community.
Producers told city officials that the TLC show will do the majority of the filming in a commercial building space that the Browns have rented, and that season 8 of “Sister Wives” is set to debut January of 2019. Several residents of Flagstaff are concerned that the show will draw too much media attention to the town, and make their lives too chaotic. Pete Page, a resident who lives across the street from the Browns, said he does not want to see streets blocked off or excessive noise in his neighborhood. Another resident, Jessie Luckey expressed that she did not want to normalize a behavior like bigamy.
The Browns, who had considered moving back to Utah after winning a legal victory, citing their religious freedom, decided that the culture of Utah was entirely too hostile towards polygamists. Brown says the time in Nevada was enriching for the kids, who could not be singled out as polygamous kids like in Utah. Three of the children from the Brown family are married, and two others in serious relationships, including one daughter who is a lesbian. None of them plan to practice polygamy, and Brown says that he is comfortable with his children’s choices.