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Hefner's 3 "Wives" OK for TV, but Judge's 3 "Wives" Costs Job

Date: Nov 03, 2005
Word Count: 1500 words
Cross-Reference: plural cohabitation, "Girls Next Door", Hugh Hefner, Judge Steed

As Hugh Hefner’s three young cohabiting women appear on the cover of Playboy magazine and on a new TV reality show on E!, a small-town Utah Judge could lose his 25-year job for cohabiting with three women for decades.

In November, 2005, on newsstands around the globe, Playboy magazine's November cover displays Hugh Hefner's three live-in women. This is in co-ordination with the new reality TV show on E!, called, "Girls Next Door," airing Sunday nights at 10:00 PM EST. At the same time, a small town part-time judge in Utah, named Walter Steed, is fighting to keep his job before the Utah State Supreme Court. Although convicted of no crime, a Utah state commission had recommended that he be removed from the bench for violating bigamy laws. Although legally married to only one since 1965, Steed was - in total - cohabiting with three live-in women. The juxtaposition of these two events vividly exposes the hypocrisy and tyranny of anti-polygamy laws. 
The premise of the "Girls Next Door" reality TV show is simple. Cameras follow the three platinum-blonde young women as they conduct their lives as Hugh Hefner's three "official" girlfriends. They plurally cohabit with him at the official Playboy Mansion.  
The first young woman is Holly Madison. She is 25, from Craig, Alaska. When she was a Hawaiian Tropics model, Holly was spotted and invited by a friend of Hefner to attend one of the Playboy Mansion's parties. After a year of attending such parties, Holly was asked by Hugh Hefner himself to become one of his live-in women. Two days later, Holly began cohabiting at the Playboy Mansion. 
Next to join the Hefner arrangement is Bridget Marquardt. She is 31, from Lodi, California. She had originally submitted pictures in hopes of appearing in the Playboy magazine. In early 2002, although the magazine had declined her submission, Hugh Hefner called her to ask her out. By the end of the year, Bridget was also cohabiting at the Playboy Mansion. 
The third and currently last young woman to enter the situation is Kendra Wilkinson. She is 20, from San Diego, California. She met Hugh Hefner a year and half ago, in April, 2004. That first meeting was at his 78th birthday party celebration, when she was 18 - and she was "dressed" only in body paint. Kendra soon moved in to the Playboy Mansion, joining the others. 
On the reality TV show, all three women openly adore and unblushingly gush on the 79-year-old millionaire media mogul. They frequently call Hugh Hefner "honey" and affectionately kiss him regularly, while not being lascivious about it. He genuinely appears to seek out to make each one happy and considers their feelings in various situations of real life. They conduct themselves much as many a wife normally would, notwithstanding the "Playboy lifestyle" and its affluence. And he treats them as many a normal and thoughtful husband would treat a wife. 
In effect, the show actually presents all three of the plurally cohabiting women as "wives." They just lack a government marriage license. 
The presentation of Hugh Hefner and three cohabiting women is legal, seemingly acceptable, and apparently even mass-marketable for airing as a reality TV show in November, 2005. 
Yet, at the same time that this is happening, another man, also living with three adult cohabiting women, was fighting just to keep his small town job as part-time Judge. 
In 1980, Walter Steed was appointed as Justice Court judge in the small border-town of Hildale, Utah. For 25 years, Steed served that part-time job, making rulings in cases involving matters such as drunk driving and domestic violence. Utah Justice Court Judges are only authorized to judge in small class B or C misdemeanors, with punishments no greater than six months in prison or $1000 fines. None of his rulings were found to be suspect or otherwise inappropriate. 
In November, 2003, a little Utah group of former Fundamentalist Mormon women - who call themselves, "Tapestry Against Polygamy" - filed a complaint against Steed with Utah's Judicial Conduct Commission. A 14-month investigation then followed. 
The investigation determined that Judge Steed, in his own personal and private life, had been cohabiting - for decades - with three women as "wives." 
Steed had legally married his first wife, Janet Jessop, 40 years ago in 1965. Ten years later, in 1975, his wife's sister, Marilyn Jessop, was religiously "sealed" as a second wife. Another ten years after that, in 1985, a second biological sister, Viola Jessop, was also religiously "sealed" as the family's third wife. While all cohabiting as one Mormon Polygamous family, Steed only had a marriage license with the first wife. 
According to the complaint by the small group of former Fundamentalist Mormon women, the proof of Judge Steed's cohabitation with the three women "proves" he is violating Utah's bigamy law. Bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah, with sentences up to five years in prison. Concluding the investigation, Utah's Judicial Conduct Commission called for Judge Steed to be removed from the bench as of February, 2006. 
But this case was unlike any other modern polygamy court case. While criminals in the recent past have been prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced for the cohabitation aspect of polygamy, that has only ever occurred after such criminals had committed other crimes. No one in modern history has ever been charged - never mind convicted - for simple cohabitation-only polygamy. 
And indeed, Steed was never convicted - not even prosecuted - for the supposed crime of bigamy. He had not even been charged. In fact, both the Utah State Attorney General and the local Washington County prosecutor actually declined to prosecute Judge Steed at all. 
After all, no crimes were involved. Moreover, the town of Hildale, Utah, is a tiny community where polygamy is not uncommon. All three women had been clearly adults when each joined the Steed family. All three women were fully cognizant of each other's participation in the family. Only the first wife had a government marriage license. No one in the family ever expected that there would be a marriage license for the second or third marriages. And Steed's private and personal family life was never considered to have interfered with any of his judgments as Judge. 
All that remained possibly applicable, therefore, was that the Steed family was plurally cohabiting and that the three women were free speech verbalized as "wives." 
(It should be additionally noted that some pro-polygamists - such as Christian Polygamists - do not advocate for marrying biological sisters or for the Mormon doctrinal reasons for applying polygamy, of course. However, a handful of specific Fundamentalist Mormon communities obviously do accept such views. More importantly, though, the issues of marrying sisters or of overall Fundamentalist Mormon presuppositions for polygamy are both very different issues from polygamy itself. Such other specific issues are more appropriately addressed on their own, separate from the generic matter of polygamy.) 
Despite Steed not even being charged with any crime, Utah's Judicial Conduct Commission forced the issue by recommending his removal as Judge. 
So, on November 2, 2005, Judge Steed faced the Utah State Supreme Court justices at his hearing at the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University. (In a hilarious irony of contradiction, the university's namesake refers to the most renowned Mormon Polygamist of all Latter Day Saints' history.)  
Steed's attorney, Rod Parker, argued before the Justices that this case is being unfairly applied in a selective fashion - instead of law being applied all-inclusively. He declared that the case is a matter of privacy, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion. Parker concluded that the matter is an equal protection problem, arbitrarily allowing some citizens but selectively pursuing after others for the same thing. 
The Utah State Supreme Court Justices will use the subsequent 90 days to decide the case by February, 2006. They will be deciding if Steed should be removed as Judge for something to which he has not even been charged or convicted. However, Chief Justice Christine Durham officially decided that, in the meantime, Steed would not have to be placed on administrative leave. 
As that decision remains pending until February 2006, both the timing and juxtaposition of Steed's case with Hugh Hefner's "Girls Next Door" expose the clear hypocrisy and tyranny of the anti-polygamy laws. 
Because tyrannical anti-polygamy laws include outdated cohabitation clauses, a Judge of 25 years could lose his job. The only reason for that action is because - in his own private life that does not affect his job - he has had lifelong-committed plural cohabitation with three women for decades, to whom he uses his free speech to call them as wives.  
Yet, Hugh Hefner displays his lesser-committed cohabitation with three young women - who essentially act as "wives" anyway, even though they never use their free speech to verbalize it. The market-acceptability for Hefner's three cohabiting women arrangement is so great that, not only do the women appear on the cover (and in an inside-pictorial) of Playboy magazine, but their lives are presented in a weekly reality TV show. 
Since such a show of plural cohabitation is sufficiently legal and mass-marketable for TV, then firing Judge Steed for plural cohabitation is hypocrisy and tyranny. 
Plural cohabitation cannot be illegal. Now, that is reality.


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