The bill originally classified polygamy as a misdemeanor, though it's since been upgraded to a prospective third-class felony

By Alex Heigl
Updated March 08, 2016 01:20 PM
Credit: Rick Bowmer/AP

Hundreds of individuals gathered in the Utah Capitol Monday either in support or opposition of House Bill 281, which would “recriminalize” the practice of polygamy in Utah.

Supporters brandished signs with slogans like “I love all my moms,” claiming that the bill disenfranchises individuals who practice polygamy.

“People are scared to receive services,” Enoch Foster, who has two wives (and whose father was arrested in the 1970s for practicing polygamy), told ABC4. “They’re scared if they came out and say I’m getting beat up then my whole family is going to get taken away and I’m going to lose my kids.”

A smaller group of about 20 came out in support for HR 281. Among them was Kristyn Decker, who was in a polygamist marriage from 1982 to 2002.

“It’s not about choice even though we thought it was,” Decker told ABC4. “From the time you’re born from the time you’re indoctrinated you believe that’s what you’re supposed to do, or have to do.”

Rep. Michael Noel (R) has claimed that his original bill would only turn polygamy into a misdemeanor, but an amendment on the house floor upgraded it to a third-degree felony. HR 281 is supported by the Attorney General, though it’s opposed by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, who contest “unlawful” wording describing cohabitation.

HR 281 has already passed out of the House and is pending a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Noel predicts it will be passed before the end of the current session on Thursday.