Utah Committee unanimously votes for bill decriminalizing polygamy
Warren Jeffs polygamist sect (State of Texas)

Lawmakers in Utah supported a bill that decriminalizes polygamy in the state, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday.


The newspaper noted the testimony of Shirlee Draper, who said she feared outsiders growing up in a polygamous community.

“All of them were kidnappers,” Draper said, “because we knew that was a fate we could suffer.”

"She testified alongside the bill’s sponsor, Spanish Fork Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson, who argued to her Senate colleagues that the state’s current law classifying polygamy as a felony is unenforceable absent other crimes," the newspaper reported.

“The people that I have spoken with long to feel part of society,” Henderson argued. “They are tired of being treated like second-class citizens. They feel like Utah has legalized prejudice against them. They want to be honest people, but feel like they have to lie or teach their children to lie about their families in order to stay safe.”

The newspaper noted that the new penalty for polygamy would not include jail time, only fines up to $750 and community service.

"The committee’s backing of Henderson’s measure was seemingly assured. All but one of the panel’s members had already signed on as co-sponsors of SB102 ahead of Monday’s hearing," the newspaper reported. "And the remaining lawmaker, West Valley City Republican Sen. Dan Thatcher, at one point told audience members that he was not interested in hearing how bad polygamy is, because 'that’s not going to make me vote against this bill.'"