You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Utah senators unanimously pass bill to decriminalize polygamy

ABC News logo ABC News 2/20/2020
a close up of Deidre Henderson wearing glasses: Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson looks on during a hearing, Feb. 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. © Rick Bowmer/AP, FILE Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson looks on during a hearing, Feb. 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

The Utah Senate unanimously passed a bill that effectively decriminalizes polygamy between consenting adults.

The bill would make polygamy an infraction, amending the current penalty punishable by up to five years in prison. Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson sponsored the bill.

It passed Tuesday and now will make its way to the House of Representatives.

Polygamy is most often considered to be a relationship between one man and multiple women, whom he claims are his wives.

Cases where an arrangement stems from threat or coercion, or occurs under fraudulent pretenses, would remain a third-degree felony.

The bill did draw criticism, with some arguing that it wouldn't do enough to protect victims in underage marriages, according to The Associated Press.

MORE: Modern Polygamist Family: Why They're Risking Jail

Some 30,000 people are believed to be living in polygamous communities in Utah, the AP reported. The state's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practiced polygamy in its early days, but abandoned and disavowed the practice in 1890.

Representatives from Utah's State or House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From ABC News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon