Summarized by Denise Bodman
Utah Politics: Issue of Polygamy Retreats Back Into the Shadows
Salt Lake Tribune 31Jan99
By Robert Gehrke: Associated Press
Topic was in the world media spotlight six months ago. But Utah legislators
Six months ago, polygamy in Utah was a hot topic, but the issue has all but
disappeared as the Utah Legislature conducts another legislative session.
Two current bills even remotely address polygamy, according to this article.
One bill relates to raising the age of consent for marriage to 16 (however,
polygamous marriages are not entered into legally, so raising the age
probably will have little-to-no affect on polygamy); the second provides
$750,000 for training prosecutors and funding investigations of incest,
sexual abuse of minors, welfare and tax fraud, and failure to pay child
support. Again, the latter bill will probably have little to do with
combating polygamy. While some polygamists are guilty of welfare fraud,
incest, and sexual abuse, so are monogamists.
Owen Allred, the leader of the Apostolic United Brethren, a group, supports
a law banning polygamy, stating, "I'm really in favor of it being against
the law because if it wasn't against the law there wouldn't be anything
sacred about it at all. If you really believe in it you'll fight for it."
Many legislators believe that there are more important issues than polygamy
and that the current laws adequately address it. According to
Representative Marty Stephens, "Polygamy is against the law in the state of
Utah. How much more clear can we make it? We could pass a law that says `We
really mean it.' But what else are we supposed to do?"
Members of Tapestry of Polygamy, a group dedicated to helping women escape
polygamous marriages, are familiar with the current "verbal shrugs."
Tapestry members are interested the state providing a safety net, providing
women leaving polygamous marriages support, including shelter space, and
education. Carmen Thompson, a spokeswoman for Tapestry, states, "Law
enforcement says the laws aren't clear. Legislators say the laws are in
place. At some point we think the state of Utah ought to accept