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Members of Utah's polygamous communites urged to call lawmakers to back bigamy bill

Posted at 2:27 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 16:33:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Utah's fundamentalist Mormon communities are being urged to lobby their lawmakers to support a bill that would make bigamy among consenting adults an infraction.

In an email, the Principle Voices Coalition -- a group made up of representatives of Utah's various polygamous groups -- urges its members to contact members of the House of Representatives to urge them to vote in favor of Senate Bill 102.

"Friends, please contact your representatives in the House and urge them to vote YES on SB102. There is a massive email campaign to oppose the bill and legislators need to hear from you!!" the email states.

SB102, sponsored by Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, and Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, would reduce bigamy among consenting adults to an infraction, while making bigamy in concert with abuses like fraud, child-bride marriages and domestic violence, a felony. Sen. Henderson has argued that Utah's approach to polygamy has not freed up people to report abuses within the often isolated communities and it is time for a change.

The bill has received some support from current and former members of Utah's polygamous communities. The Davis County Cooperative Society told FOX 13 it was not supportive of the enhancements to the bill.

The bill has been steamrolling through the Utah State Legislature. On Friday, it faced a critical vote in the Utah State Senate where it passed unanimously on second reading. Procedurally, it has one more vote in the Senate and, if it passes there, goes to the House for consideration.

Representatives from fundamentalist communities have been seen on Capitol Hill in recent days as they meet with lawmakers to urge support for SB102. Opponents of the bill have also been pushing to defeat the bill, arguing that it will not lead to people feeling free to report abuses.

But anti-polygamy groups' efforts have faced pushback. On Friday, the House Minority Caucus demanded an apology from the head of the Sound Choices Coalition for what it called "racist and inappropriate" behavior targeting the only black lawmaker in the legislature.