Polygamist family has twin sisters - and cousin married to the same man
Family says they want attitudes towards polygamist lifestyles to change
Twin sisters Vicki and Valerie Darger have a number of things in common - both are married to the same man. In a polygamous marriage with 43-year-old Joe, he's also wed to a third woman; their cousin Alina. The Dargers are fundamentalist Mormons from Salt Lake City, Utah and live together in a large family home and have 24 children between them.
Mormon followers took the practice of polygamy to Utah, where it was practiced publicly until 1890 when it was renounced by the LDS church to win statehood for the territory.
Valerie joined the family as his third wife in 2000.
In the eyes of their Fundamentalist Mormon religion, all three women are equally married to Joe. The three wives each have their own bedroom, and Joe alternates between the three rooms each evening.
Valerie, who works in the family cleaning business with 43-year-old Alina says "The fact that Joe was married to Vicki didn't bother me at all. I took it as a sign he would be a good husband for me as well.
"As teenagers, Vicki and I liked some of the same guys. I thought it might even be good if we married the same man."
Vicki says that "I know that some people are uncomfortable at the thought of two sisters sharing a husband.
"But there's a good chance if a husband is compatible with one sister, he'll be well matched with another."
Joe was only 18 when he began dating Vicki and her cousin Alina at the same time and married them in a joint Mormon ceremony in 1990. The following day, Alina became his legal wife when they married again at a ceremony under state law, while Vicki acted as witness.
"Even in our community joint courtships are rare," Vicki says. "We knew we were taking on a huge challenge and responsibility.
"The accepted pattern in our culture is for a couple to prove themselves first in a monogamous marriage, before taking on the challenges of a second wife."
Polygamy among Mormons began with the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement Joseph Smith when he declared in upstate New York in 1831 that he had seen visions telling him that "plural marriage" should be practiced.
Mormons took the practice of polygamy to Utah, where it was practiced publicly until 1890 when it was renounced by the LDS church to win statehood for the territory.The leaders also say there was a change in doctrine and revelation.
The LDS Church argued back then that such laws infringed their right to religiously-based practice under the U.S. Constitution.
But a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1878 stated that they were not protected based on the long-standing legal principle that while government cannot interfere with religious beliefs, it can with practices.
There are said to be more than 30,000 people practicing polygamy in Utah, Idaho, Montana and Arizona. Mormons have disowned the practice and condemn it. They also disassociete with any who practice it and maintain they are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and should not call themselves Mormons.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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