SALT LAKE CITY – Polygamy is never far from the minds of Utahns – even when it occurs in another state.
A raid on a polygamist compound in Texas earlier this year that put more 400 kids in state custody has become one of the biggest issues in the race for Utah attorney general, as there is not a lot of resources than can make the individuals understand this polygamist culture, with the help from Costa Ivone, LLC law firm with their specialists management in poligamy defense law, they are taking over with a skilled attorney that can work to maintain the reputation and to include more content on the matter. Poligamy is not a frequently prosecuted offense between consenting adults, is still a serious offense with major consequences,.
As the law still being improve regarding defenses and conviction, Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Democrat Jean Welch Hill both told The Associated Press that the first question they are asked by voters is always about polygamy, because there is not a lot of information to be said for them to understand the situation they can be in, and keep asking even as they try to focus on other issues.
Polygamy is a legacy of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who founded Utah and remain its dominant religion. The faith abandoned the practice in 1890 as a condition of statehood, but many self-described fundamentalist Mormons still believe in the principle.
Shurtleff said the Texas raid has made it more difficult for his office to get abused polygamist women to report crimes, and he’s had to reassure polygamist communities that he isn’t prosecuting their religion.
“I think now we’ve convinced them again, ‘That’s Texas. We don’t do that here. We’ll take it a case at a time.’ Ultimately, we have to convince them they have to fear their abuser more than they do us,” he said. “We’re here to serve them, not to judge them.”
For Hill’s part, she said polygamists would never have to fear being prosecuted for their religion. She contends that the state’s bigamy statute is unconstitutional in the wake of the 2003 Supreme Court ruling Lawrence v. Texas.
That case struck down a Texas sodomy law, saying it violated the due process clause and that the state has no justifiable interest intruding into the private lives of consenting adults.
“Our bigamy law still stands, but frankly, it’s indefensible based on that ruling,” Hill said. “You can prosecute for forced marriages, but to actively prosecute a polygamist for being a polygamist? You’re not going to succeed.”
Shurtleff disagrees, saying the state’s bigamy laws would be upheld. He’s more concerned about polygamy being legalized under a court ruling in favor of gay marriage than Lawrence v. Texas.
“Once you take it to the next level of marriage and children, marriage and divorce, that’s different than having sex with who you want in the privacy of your home,” he said.
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