UPDATE 2/18: The Senate passed the bigamy bill in a unanimous vote. The bill reclassifies the crime as an infraction.

It now heads to the House for consideration.

Original story Feb. 10th

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A Utah senator wants to reduce the penalties for practicing polygamy. She said the goal is to encourage victims of abuse to come forward.

The bill, Senate Bill 102, passed unanimously out of committee Monday afternoon, and now heads to the full Senate for debate.

SB102 is sponsored by Senator Deidre Henderson. The bill would modify the definition of crime and penalties associated with polygamy.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Don Ipson is one of the bill’s 19 co-sponsors.

“It decriminalizes the activity and tries to give them the opportunity to bring their lifestyle and their culture, and what they believe in – out in the open – and they don’t have to hide,” Ipson said.

The bill would reduce the penalty from a felony to an infraction, and Ipson said the idea is to encourage victims of abuse to come forward.

“I just want to make sure they have the opportunity to live their life and not have to worry about being arrested for it,” Ipson said.

Sound Choice Coalition is a non-profit organization “dedicated to raising awareness and working to end the damaging practices associated with polygamous cultures.” The group released the following statement in opposition to the bill:

“We’d like to propose that our legislators take time to create a research team/committee, that can promote the best outcomes for everyone involved in Utah. There are much better ways than to make laws that will further victimize victims.”

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