SALT LAKE CITY — Polygamy wouldn't be a felony crime in Utah for the first time in 85 years under a bill that passed the Legislature and appears to be supported by the governor.
Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for the proposal that supporters said will allow the 30,000 people living in the state’s polygamous communities to come out of the shadows and report abuses such as underage marriage by other polygamists without fear of prosecution.
Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has indicated he will likely sign the proposal.
Some former members of polygamous groups have said that essentially decriminalizing the practice could embolden abusers.
Earlier in February, Utah lawmakers voted to put new regulations on pornography and remove some on polygamy in separate proposals that moved quickly through the Legislature.
Senators voted on Tuesday, Feb. 18 to remove the threat of jail time for consenting adult polygamists.
Supporters argued the step would allow people in communities that practice plural marriage to report abuses without fear of prosecution.
Later, House lawmakers approved a proposal to require warning labels on pornography.
A majority of people in Utah belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had an early history of polygamy but has forbidden it for more than a century.
The church declared pornography a public health crisis in 2016.
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