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Arizona AG plans to 'eradicate' discrimination in polygamous towns

Published March 21, 2014 10:51 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office wants to eradicate discrimination in two polygamous towns, and after a court victory Thursday believes it may be able to do just that.

The AG's office and the Cooke family emerged triumphant Thursday in a civil rights lawsuit against Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. Specifically, a jury found that the two towns had discriminated against the family because they aren't members of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The jury also awarded the Cookes $5.2 million for the discrimination.

In a press release Friday, Arizona AG Tom Horne called the ruling "significant" and did not mince words about what is going on: "Discrimination based on religion will not be tolerated in this state."

Horne also was clear in the release about what he believes is happening in the community: "Colorado City is where young girls are kept in polygamous marriages by older men, and boys are kicked out of town so the older men will not have competition."

Significantly, Horne's release mentions that the ruling — which found that the cities engaged in "a pattern or practice of discrimination" — will allow the state to "eradicate the discrimination" in the towns. Horne's press release did not specifically explain how that would happen, except to mention "injunctive and affirmative relief," and a spokeswoman for his office did not immediately return a request for comment Friday afternoon.

— Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii