Nearly-lost in the earth-shattering news that Amendment 3 was overturned and the findings of the Swallow investigation over the holiday break was the news that, just one week prior, a Utah judge overturned a portion of the state’s anti-bigamy law and effectively decriminalized polygamy by allowing legally married couples to cohabitate with other adults in marriage-like situations (it remains illegal to apply for or obtain multiple marriage licenses).
In his decision, Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that Utah’s current law was too broad when it decreed that cohabitation was illegal—there were simply too many variables associated with such a law and, more importantly, the courts have moved away from criminalizing the sexual activities of consenting adults.
Since the December 13th ruling, Utah’s bigamy law has been essentially dead in the water and unenforceable, prompting calls for a legislative change to the law.
Representative Jerry Anderson (Republican – Price) is addressing this very issue with HB 58 – Bigamy Revisions.
The bill, which will most likely fly through the legislature, would eliminate the cohabitation provision of the law which was ruled unconstitutional. Interestingly, the bill also says that a woman could be convicted of bigamy (the law currently only says that he would be guilty). Presuming the bill is successful, bigamy will be strictly defined as when a person is legally married and then knowingly attempts to gets legally married to someone else at the same time.
Though a shoe-in, the debate on this bill might prove to be quite interesting as lawmakers have to admit that cohabitation must be legal in Utah.
To contact Representative Anderson, click here or call 435-637-2548.
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Need for Legislation:
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker