The Utah State Senate has unanimously passed a bill that will dispel fears of prosecution for plural marriage in a state known for its ties with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), where religiously-based polygamy is common. [read more]
The Utah bill that passed this week would make polygamy between consenting adults in the Beehive State an infraction, instead of a felony, lessening the penalty which is currently up to five years in prison. [read more]
Utah’s state Senate voted unanimously to decriminalize polygamy, hoping to make it an infraction on par with a parking ticket.
The bill swiftly cleared the Republican-controlled Senate in the predominantly Mormon state with a vote of 29-0 with little discussion on Tuesday. It now moves to the Utah House of Representatives, where it is likely to face greater resistance. [read more]
Should polygamy be a felony, or a matter between man and wives? Lawmakers in Utah's Republican-controlled Senate leaned toward the latter on Tuesday and voted unanimously to decriminalize polygamy. [read more]
Utah lawmakers voted Tuesday to put new regulations on pornography and remove some on polygamy in separate proposals moving quickly through the Legislature in the deeply conservative state.
Senators voted unanimously to change state law to remove the threat of jail time for consenting adult polygamists, a step that supporters argue will free people in communities that practice plural marriage to report abuses, like children being taken as wives, without fear of prosecution.
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. [read more]
Back when the territory was desperately seeking statehood, a deal was struck that allowed Utah to join the Union if it gave up polygamy. The church disavowed the practice in 1890, but the funny thing is that it was one of those nudge-and-a-wink deals where the cops turned a blind eye for generations.
The result was disastrous.
Women were forced into plural marriages as a way to guarantee their eternal salvation.
Fraud became a tool of the polygamists — particularly the fundamentalist sects that sprouted and held true to the origins of the religion — as they found newer and better ways to weasel welfare money from the government.
And most tragically, it opened the doors to the sexual abuse of innocent little girls, many of whom were forced into plural marriages as soon as they became fertile. They became victims of physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse in the hidden villages of Hildale, Colorado City, and the other little enclaves where these perverts hide from the law. [read more]
Dear Utahans and ALL U.S. Residents,
After being in polygamy for too many years, after leaving, attaining collage degree, becoming a victim’s advocate; spending over 13 years of research, and after listening to hundreds of hundreds of devastating and heart-rending stories, this letter really tells you nothing as to all there is for you to know and understand about polygamy –not bigamy.
Are you aware that ALL “religious” polygamous groups and most Independent polygamists claim old LDS doctrines and beliefs that are racist and/or bigoted? By voting yes to SB0102, our Senators and Representatives would be voting in favor of institutionalized racism. Most “religious” polygamists are racists; and even after all these years are known to openly make racist jokes. There are plenty of documents, videos and witnesses that support this fact. Here is one of hundreds:
For the sake of thousands of polygamous children, I hope they will have the courage to exit this quick-fix, popular “group-think” tank, while better and wiser decisions can be made.
SB0102 addresses the protection of approximately 5% of “consenting, law-abiding adults” who say they believe in religious plural marriage. However, this bill does NOT protect thousands of victims who have been and will continue to be programmed and threatened from birth to “keep your mouths’ shut! Be obedient! Live polygamy, or be destroyed!”
***Genuine choice comes with educated options and ZERO threats.
There aren’t enough laws, arrangements, procedures, safety and legal practices set in place to facilitate and protect the thousands of victims that this nefarious system creates, while it claims to be “building up God’s Kingdom.”
Yes, this bill is written to be tough on those who coerce and manipulate; yet at church and at home—every day of their lives, crimes of coercion and manipulation are being committed . . . Little girls are consistently being groomed to become plural wives and bear more children than they can physically, emotionally and financially care for; while “boys will be boys,” and may become leaders or end up being drones with no wives, or kicked out since most of the girls have been taken by older men. . . With Utah’s record of not prosecuting crimes within polygamous house-holds and businesses; how can we trust or believe that any of those remaining laws would be enforced either? And if so, how?
Polygamy being illegal has been an asset to hundreds of victims who believed they’d be further protected because they’d be understood. Because polygamy has been illegal, a few men and women who have left polygamy have received some ethical legal support when it comes to custody rights of their children. Polygamous groups and families fight tooth and nail to keep, (especially) the girls indoctrinated, because they need them for breeding. Most polygamous families and friends literally turn on the person(s) leaving or trying to leave. Their sister-wives, parents, siblings and too often, children are trained to gain up on the one departing. They villainize them; falsely claiming he/she is an unfit parent, an alcoholic, an addict, an abuser, immoral, etc. They pool their money for the parent who stays, and transfer money into other accounts to avoid paying child support. They use their own legal systems (whom in many cases are hobnobbing with outside lawyers), to bilk and destroy the victims, until (too often) they have nothing more to live or fight for. Feeling completely hopeless and out of pure desperation, many go back into the vicious cycle they fled.
The best reason for polygamy to remain illegal, even though Utah doesn’t enforce the law, is because just stating the fact that “polygamy is inherently harmful to men, women, children and to society as a whole,” is one of the best ways to help society and victims realize this is not a socially acceptable or sustainable system.
Many young women have fled polygamy to keep themselves and kids from having to live polygamy. One particular woman had to spend over 120k in legal fees to get custody of her daughters. Only because polygamy is illegal, was she granted legal custody of them. Thank God, the wise judge cited that polygamy was a felony, and harmful to children. One big heart-ache, is that their biological polygamous fathers mothers and grandparents still inside, can and do continue to groom them to become submissive, sweet, plural wives . . .
This bill condones and gives more power to abusers and fanatics who will take their new found “freedom” to the extreme. They always have, and will even more. Once again, they will claim, “See, God has blessed and protected us. He is on our side! So, you must do as we say. . . or else!”
Those of us who have lived on both sides of the fence, have been advocates and researchers for over 13 years, believe that passing this bill will NOT out-weigh the harms of polygamy; and will not be best for thousands of victims.
My huge EX-polygamous family, friends and relatives, are very hopeful that polygamy will NOT be decriminalized or considered an infraction in Utah. Please understand that to decriminalize polygamy is NOT the best way to protect women and children from being trafficked and sexually abused. Nor is it the best way to help them come out of isolation and report crimes within; as pro-polygamists and Senator Deidre Henderson would have everyone believe.
To decriminalize polygamy may give solace to a few families who may deserve the peace of mind it might offer; however, it will NOT provide safety to thousands of men, women and children who are still required to be submissive to their dictators, who control everything about their lives.
*According to Holding Out Help, a Utah nonprofit assisting those leaving polygamy; the rate of sexual abuse among polygamists is astounding! Out of 269 clients: 89% are victims of abuse 75% are victims of sexual abuse, and most of those are in trauma counseling.
*The AUB, which I was born and raised in, has been known as one of the “good” polygamous groups. Yet, Rulon and Owen Allred (past “prophets” of AUB), and their council members covered for pedophiles and sexual abusers for years—several of whom were on their own counsel. One polygamous man still in the AUB, recently claimed, “There is not one family in the AUB who is not adversely affected by sexual abuse.” He, along with thousands, support their current prophet, Lynn Thompson, who was accused by a dozen-plus women (three of his own children), of molesting them when they were children. Lynn told his congregation that God told him he was not required to endure a trial, because he’d been forgiven. Since then, Lynn has attempted to cover up other men who have also been accused of sexually violating many children. The indoctrination from birth, is that reporting will make them, their church, and polygamy look bad . . . “Protect God’s laws of polygamy at any cost.”
*Polygamists are not afraid of the government. The majority do not isolate because they fear its repercussions. “Truly, Utah has no appetite for prosecuting and imprisoning plural families . . .” Joe Darger (pro-polygamy advocate) stated. Most Fundamentalists have thrived for over 60 years in plain sight, while breaking Utah and Federal laws and living on welfare programs. The majority of fundamentalists try to keep their children away from “outside – worldly influences,” such as counseling, public education, friendships, certain work environments, etc., that would surely dissuade them from living God’s commandment “to assure they live polygamy, or be destroyed.” Much of the isolation is to cover numerous ongoing crimes, and keep wives and children from accidentally divulging these corruptions to the “wrong people.”
*The fear of reporting abuse, does not come from the outside; it comes from within. None of the victims of polygamy who have sought help through Holding Out Help, Sound Choices Coalition, The Diversity Foundation, etc. have ever said they were afraid to report because of the current laws against polygamy. In fact, that polygamy was illegal gave them a sense of security in reporting—that they’d be better understood and believed. When they had dealt with enough pain and degradation to seek outside help, and report physical and sexual abuse, child marriages, incest, etc., they knew there would be severe internal punishments: threats of losing their eternal soul, of families casting them out, of character assassination, of losing children, grand-children, families, etc. . . The immeasurable power imbalance involved in polygamy is enough to silence followers and believers; especially women.
*After 2 years of intensive research that kept polygamy illegal in Canada, Chief Justice Bauman stated, the inherent harms of polygamy to men, women, children and society as a whole, by far out-weighed one’s religious freedom; therefore, polygamy would forever remain illegal.
To make polygamy an “infraction” would ultimately give more power and control to numerous, fundamentalists who believe they “are above the laws of the land.” They claim God is protecting them in all they do, because Utah does not enforce polygamy and/or the crimes within. Whenever leaders, heads of house-holds, members, or businesses have ever won any lawsuit, or escaped prosecution, with just a slap on the hand; fundamentalists feel more empowered. They become more demanding and controlling. Even knowing they were guilt of the crimes they were charged with; their verbiage to their families and congregations go something like this: “See how God is protecting us . . . We must continue to “KEEP SWEET, follow God’s directions and commandments, do what we say, keep quiet, keep sweet; and never turn yourselves over to the buffetings of Satan (report to the wicked government); for God’s laws are higher than the laws of the land; and we MUST PROTECT the law of POLYGAMY, AT ANY COST!
PLEASE HELP thousands of victims of polygamy, by voting NO to Senate Bill 0102.
- Amelia Anthony
“My clients are overwhelmingly telling me decriminalization will not work to expose or reduce perpetrators of abuses,” said Tonia Tewell, founder of Holding Out HELP. “They have said, rather, it would embolden them to increase abuse ... knowing there is even less to be concerned about legally.” [more]
Angela Kelly, Sound Choices Coalition director, compared polygamy to organized crime and slavery. To ease the criminal penalties, she said, would encourage more people to live that way. “To bring it down to an infraction, you’re essentially saying this is an OK lifestyle,” Kelly said. “And it might be for 10 people, but we’re talking about society as a whole.” [more]
“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.” [more]
SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that reduces the level of penalty for polygamists in Utah is advancing in the state legislature. By a unanimous vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Senate Bill 102. [more]
SALT LAKE CITY — Critics of a bill to decriminalize polygamy told state senators Monday the measure would only embolden abusive members of plural marriage groups and would do nothing to help victims. [more…]
Sound Choices Coalition Responds to Utah Senate initiative SB0102Read more
Ben Winslow with Fox 13 interviewed Angela Kelly today for a response to Senator Henderson's Bill proposal. He writes a fair and balanced article.Read more
A couple of weeks ago Comic Church did a segment and invited Angela Kelly to speak on the potential ( now formal ) bill proposal of Senator Deidre Henderson. The bill would lower bigamy all the way from a felony to an infraction. The segment begins an hour into the show.Read more
Kristyn Decker, President of Sound Choices Coalition , with Melissa Ellis, Vice President and Angela Kelly, Director with a Legislative Update.Read more
After watching Harriett today with my husband, I sobbed because of her courage to stand up for HUMAN RIGHTS, and for those she loved. I often feel the same feelings—the desperation to free those who are enslaved in modern day slavery—especially because I know of the ongoing suffering inside, behind closed doors, behind all of those smiling facades in the miserable happiness of polygamy. . . Like 17th century slavery, it is especially hurtful knowing that literally thousands of children have been, and are still being born “under a covenant to obey or be destroyed.”
In 2008, for the first time in 40 years, I read Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants. By that time, I’d left the cult belief system I was born into and lived. I’d gained some cognitive skills I’d never been taught or felt were necessary, since all I had to do was believe in “our prophet’s teachings.” While reading Joseph Smith’s self-aggrandizing words in favor of men taking as many virgins as they’d like, while unashamedly sending women to hell for disobedience to his (God’s) supposed laws, I felt humiliated, sexually violated and extremely angry. Every heart-ache I’d ever endured as well as thousands of plural wives’ anguish and turmoil began smothering me!
Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s cabin, known for inciting compassion for slaves and helping initiate the civil war, called slavery and polygamy the twin relics of barbarism. Though we love our fundamentalist friends and relatives; and often cry because of their ongoing suffering and heart aches, we would never wish either of the twin relics of barbarism – polygamy-slavery to become legal or decriminalized.
In summation of Canada’s 12-month long case against polygamy, the Honorable Chief Justice Robert Bauman stated, “...the law violates the religious freedom of fundamentalist Mormons, but the harms against women and children outweigh that concern. Polygamy will remain illegal. It is harmful to men, women, children and to society as a whole."
November 15, 2021