By Vanessa Romo
A Utah bill that would reduce polygamy among consenting adults from a felony to an infraction — on par with a traffic ticket — was unanimously endorsed by a state Senate committee earlier this week, despite opposition from critics who argue the law could potentially protect abusers.
The move advances Senate Bill 102 to the full chamber for a vote. “Vigorous enforcement of the law during the mid-twentieth century did not deter the practice of plural marriage,” Sen. Deidre Henderson told NPR.
The Republican senator, who sponsored the legislation, contends strict government regulations have only served to drive polygamous families underground “into a shadow society where the vulnerable make easy prey.”
There are an estimated 30,000 Utahans currently living in polygamous communities, the Associated Press reported.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially disavowed the principle of plural marriages in 1890, though the church acknowledges that the practice continued and was condoned for decades afterward.
Today, the church excommunicates practicing polygamists.