The Utah state senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to effectively decriminalize polygamy among consenting adults, reducing penalties for a practice with deep religious roots in the predominantly Mormon state.
The bill, which would treat the offense of plural marriage as a simple infraction on par with a parking ticket, now moves to the Utah house of representatives, where it is likely to face greater resistance.
The bill swiftly cleared the Republican-controlled senate on a vote of 29-0 with little discussion.
Under current law, polygamy – typically involving a man who cohabits with and purports to marry more than one wife – is classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
If the senate bill becomes law, punishments for plural marriage would be limited to fines of up to $750 and community service.
However, fraudulent bigamy – in which an individual obtains licenses to marry more than one spouse without their knowledge, or seeks to wed someone underage without her consent – remains a felony.