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Sponsor said polygamy bill will have to wait

Published February 3, 2014 6:54 pm

Legislation • Price representative agreed it's better to see how court case turns out first.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A proposal to strip away a key part of Utah's polygamy laws was scrapped for this year because of a pending legal case, a state lawmaker said Monday.

Rep. Jerry Anderson, R-Price, said he's abandoning his bill that would make Utah laws comply with a federal judge's ruling that struck down a key part of the state polygamy statute.

In December, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups threw out the part of the bigamy law that bans cohabitation.

Waddoups said the provision was a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion.

The Utah attorney general's office might appeal the ruling, so Anderson said he's dropping his proposal this year because lawmakers don't want to interfere.

Anderson said he originally introduced the bill because the cohabitation clause has made polygamous families illegal, creating tough situations for law enforcement. He said there are times when officers or prosecutors are reluctant to enforce the laws to break up families.

It also keeps those families in the shadows, which interferes with government interests such as U.S. Census counts, he said.

"Beyond that, I didn't have any ideas about promoting polygamy."