'I love them all equally': Polygamist who married twin sisters AND their cousin appears on This Morning to defend controversial lifestyle choice
19:06 GMT, 28 May 2012
Joe Darger, from Salt Lake City, Utah, lives in a house with his three wives and their 24 children.
His polygamous marriage is illegal in 50 American states – and has resulted in him being excommunicated from the Mormon church.
But Joe, a fifth generation polygamist, believes his is the correct way – and says he wants to fight to have his plural marriage officially recognised by society.
The fundamentalist Mormon appeared on the breakfast television show alongside his three wives, 42-year-old twins Vicki and Valerie, and their 43-year-old cousin Alina.
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Controversial: Joe Darger appears on This Morning to defend his decision to marry twin sisters and their cousin
Vicki and Alina have been married to Joe for 22 years after dating Joe simultaneously when they were just 18.
Vicki's twin sister Valerie was married to Joe 12 years ago after her own polygamous union – with a man who had six other wives – broke down.
And now, in an interview with Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield, Joe and his wives, has defended their polygamous marriage as the 'oldest form of family'.
Close: The four appeared via video link for the chat on the breakfast show
Answering Philip's question as to whether he hoped their plural union might one day be 'acceptable, mainstream, normal', Joe replied that while he never expects his polygamous marriage to be mainstream, he hopes one day it will be decriminalised.
'We want the same rights as anyone else would be afforded,' he said via live video link from Utah.
'Originally polygamy was part of the Mormon history, and that's what we still believe,' he says.
'Our story is about faith and family and freedom. In today's culture where family is being looked at, ours is one of the oldest forms of family out there.
'I don't know if we are looking to be accepted as mainstream, but certainly what we define as a family should be looked at as what society accepts as a family.'
'/05/02/article-2138349-12E19D78000005DC-127_634x403.jpg” width=”634″ height=”403″ alt=”Awful lot of offspring: The quartet have 24 children (pictured) between them, from one-year-old Victoria to 18-year-old Tavish” class=”blkBorder” />
Awful lot of offspring: The quartet have 24 children (pictured) between them, from one-year-old Victoria to 18-year-old Tavish
But two years ago, they decided to talk about their relationship to raise awareness, and to try to overcome prejudices against their religion and lifestyle.
Although polygamy is generally illegal in all 50 states, practitioners are almost never prosecuted unless there is evidence of abuse, statutory rape, welfare fraud, or tax evasion.
The three wives and their husband have co-written a book 'Love Times Three', and some of their
WHAT THE TWITTERSPHERE MAKE OF THE POLYGAMOUS FAMILY
What is this A man who's married to twins and their cousin, they all live in the same house and have 24 kids between them! #ThisMorning
I genuinely can't comprehend a completely happy polygamous marriage. @Schofe #ThisMorning
from Bath and North East Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset
No. You should not be allowed to marry more than one woman. Especially if women aren't allowed to marry more than one man. #thismorning
What is it that this polygamist loves about his 3 wives…Erm…the fact that they're dumb enough to indulge his stupidity! #ThisMorning
adult children also contributed to the story.
'We hope that by talking about our way of life, polygamy will step closer to being an accepted lifestyle and the laws that criminalise it might change,' said Joe.
For Joe, a fifth generation polygamist and belongs to an Orthodox off-shoot of the mainstream Mormon church, the decision to enter into a plural marriage was an easy one.
But his wives say the situation suits them perfectly too.
They confronted any feelings of jealousy early on ('of course there were moments we were jealous,' Alina admits), and now manage to live harmoniously.
Joe shares out his conjugal time equally between the three, spending a night in turn with each in their own bedrooms.
Incredibly, Joe says he couldn't choose between the three.
'I'm in love with all of them,' he says. 'I don't think I could pick one over the other.
'They're all such unique personalities and bring certain parts out of me.
'Each of them is very distinct individuals. The twins seemed so alike at first, but I realised later they are very different.
'Vicki has a much more analytical and detailed person, she's an outdoorsy person, like I am. Valerie is a whole different type of personality.
When asked if they would swap their current situation to have Joe to themselves, all replied that they would not.
'Our marriage is fulfilling and wonderful,' said Vicki, while Valerie said she was 'grateful.'
'The others learned a lot before I came along, they helped to shape Joe into the man he is today, so I'm forever grateful for that,' she says.
So would they add a fourth wife to the mix
Valerie confesses that although she is content, it could be 'a good thing.'
'But they'd have to be a good fit for our family,' she says.
For Joe, the idea of another wife is 'not beyond the realms of possibility' – but he looks exhausted at the very though, admitting he already struggles to 'fulfill obligations' to his current three wives on their anniversaries and birthdays.
Some people think it's a dream come true to have three wives,' he says.
But it's usually only those who've never been married to one!'
MORMON POLYGAMY: A 180-YEAR BATTLE FOR 'RELIGIOUS RIGHTS'
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 practised.
After his death in 1844, followers took polygamy to Utah, where it was practised publicly until 1890 when it was renounced by the LDS church to win statehood for the territory.
During that time, Congress issued the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act in 1962 which re-asserted that polygamy was illegal in all US territories.
The LDS argued that such laws infringed their right to religiously-based practise 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.
Various splinter groups left the church after the 1890 Manifesto in order to continue polygamy.
Nowadays, there are said to be more than 30,000 people practising polygamy in Utah, Idaho, Montana and Arizona.
States occasionally take action against polygamists, notably Tom Green, who was sentenced to five years in prison for bigamy in Utah in August 2001.
One famous Mormon is U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, whose father George W. Romney was born in 1907 in a settlement in Mexico that had been founded in the 1880s by Mormons fleeing American anti-polygamy laws.
The last polygamist in Romney’s direct ancestry was his great-grandfather Miles Park Romney, who had three wives.
Romney's paternal grandfather Gaskell was monogamous and the Mormon Church outlawed polygamy in 1890.
VIDEO: Joe Darger chats to This Morning about the addition of third wife Alina