Thursday, March 2, 2017



1.       Last year this bill (HB-99) was “HB-281”.  It failed at the eleventh hour when its senate sponsor (Jerry Stevenson) circled it.  Nothing has changed except for the addition of harsher (2nd degree felony) penalties for polygamists who commit collateral abuse, and a weak defense for women who leave the lifestyle and inform on the families they leave behind.

2.       Last year, Mike Noel sold this bill as a cure for the Kody Brown “Sister Wives” lawsuit.  Now that the Supreme Court declined to hear Kody Brown’s case, the bill is being sold as a way to “fix” the unconstitutionalities of the current bigamy statute.
3.       The nature of the bill is to COMBINE the original prongs (bad acts) of “cohabitating” and “purporting”, and to single out only those actors who do BOTH things – i.e. Fundamentalist Mormons who have multiple partners and who also pretend that more than one of them is a make-believe spouse.
4.    Parker Douglas told the House Judiciary Committee that this amended language will make it "harder" to prosecute polygamists because they would have to violate TWO prongs - cohabitating AND purporting.  Mike Noel told the House Chamber that this bill will "strengthen" the AG's ability to prosecute polygamists.  Which one of them is lying?
5.       Changing “OR to “AND” combines the vague “purports” prong and resurrects the once-overturned (Waddoups Dec. 2013) “cohabits” prong.  This is a blatant violation of the Hialeah (1992) facial AND operational neutrality doctrines, since it targets a specific minority class.  A statute fails facial neutrality scrutiny when it singles out a minority class in its plain language, and it fails operational neutrality when it targets that class in the way it gets enforced.  For a hundred years, 99.9% of Utah bigamy prosecutions have been of Fundamentalist Mormon plural families.  This could not be more blatant.
6.       Last year, plural families were offered and promised a reduction in penalty (infraction for “standalone” polygamy).  This was later rescinded during House floor debate because the LDS Church instructed Mike Noel and Keven Stratton to “kill the bill” if the penalty risked being reduced.
7.       It has been argued that the 1894 Irrevocable Ordinance prohibiting “polygamous or plural marriages” compels the legislature to enact anti-polygamy legislation.  This is FALSE for the following reasons:
a.       No attempt was made to accomplish this until 1935.
b.       We ALREADY have a statute (30-1-2[1]) that perfectly VOIDS any second or multiple marriages.
c.        76-7-101 makes NO MENTION of polygamy or plural marriage.
d.       NO plural families have more than one marriage – despite silly arguments to the contrary.
e.       The Ordinance stops short of prohibiting plural relationships or multiple-partner relationships.
f.         A similar ordinance was voided in Oklahoma in 1911 (Coyle v. Smith).  Utah can easily remove this clause any time because it places Utah on lower than equal footing with the other states before the federal government.

8.       All private adult consensual “cohabitation” was de-criminalized in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas).
9.       Criminalizing “purporting” is the same as forbidding free speech – utterly unconstitutional. It is also “Prior Restraint”.
10.    A sincere bigamy statute would be one whose language follows North Dakota’s – one that makes the acquisition of a second legal marriage a crime – not sleeping with different bed partners.
11.    Criminalizing 30,000 innocent Utahns for the last several decades has served only to drive them underground and into isolation.  This has created an enduring climate of fear, allowing abusers to flourish and stay hidden.
12.    Parker Douglas told the 10th Circuit Court that a principal goal behind this legislation is to make it easier for law enforcement to conduct investigations, searches and seizures.  This relegates tens of thousands of Utahns to second-class citizenship.
13.    A.G. Sean Reyes insisted that he will never use this statute.  A.G. Mark Shurtleff barely used it once, so why is there such a desperate full-court press from certain quarters to keep it in place.  What is the value of a statute that is unenforceable due to its unconstitutionality and the inevitability of a Supreme Court challenge every time it is used?
14.    Polygamists don’t want to legalize plural marriages.  They want the State OUT of their lives, not IN it.
15.   These statutes and amendments do nothing to address the true abusers in isolated communities.  When Utah had Warren Jeffs in custody, it did not even bother to charge him with bigamy – NEITHER did it bother to charge him with Mark Shurtleff’s “Child” bigamy statute, even though it knew that he had molested numerous young teen girls.  It also failed to charge David Kingston and Daniel Kingston (both served prison time for other offenses) who to this day have many purported “wives”.
16. Mike Noel has made several media appearances claiming that Fundamentalist Mormons have hijacked his religion.  He told the House Judiciary Committee that people sit behind bars right now for the crime of polygamy.  If so, what are their names?


This document includes House Committee Amendments incorporated into the bill on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 11:34 AM by ryoung.
Representative Michael E. Noel proposes the following substitute bill:
Chief Sponsor: Michael E. Noel
Senate Sponsor: ____________

8     General Description:
9          This bill modifies the Utah Criminal Code regarding the offense of bigamy.
10     Highlighted Provisions:
11          This bill:
     revises the definitions of bigamy and child bigamy.
13     Money Appropriated in this Bill:
14          None
15     Other Special Clauses:
16          This bill provides a special effective date.
17     Utah Code Sections Affected:
18     AMENDS:
76-7-101, as last amended by Laws of Utah 1997, Chapter 296
76-7-101.5, as enacted by Laws of Utah 2003, Chapter 6
22     Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
23          Section 1. Section 76-7-101 is amended to read:
24          76-7-101. Bigamy -- Penalty -- Defense.
25          (1) A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing [he] the person has a husband or wife
26     or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry [another
27     person or cohabits with another] and cohabitates with the other person.
28          (2) Bigamy is a third degree felony [of the third degree].
29          (3) Bigamy is a second degree felony if the accused is also convicted during the same
30     prosecution of the following:
31          (a) inducing marriage or bigamy under false pretenses;
32          (b) fraud:
33          (c) domestic abuse;
34          (d) child abuse;
35          (e) sexual abuse;
36          (f) human trafficking; or
37          (g) human smuggling.
38          [(3)] (4) It [shall be] is a defense to bigamy that:
39          (a) the accused reasonably believed [he] the accused and the other person were legally
40     eligible to [remarry.] marry;
41          (b) the accused is a person who, under reasonable fear of coercion or bodily harm, left
42     a bigamous relationship as defined in Subsection (1); Ĥ→ [or] ←Ĥ
43          (c) the accused is a minor who left a bigamous relationship as defined in Subsection
44     (1) Ĥ→ [.] ; or
44a      (d) the accused has taken steps to protect the safety and welfare of any minor child of a
44b     bigamous relationship. ←Ĥ
45          Section 2. Section 76-7-101.5 is amended to read:
46          76-7-101.5. Child bigamy -- Penalty.
47          (1) An actor 18 years of age or older is guilty of child bigamy when, knowing he or she
48     has a wife or husband, or knowing that a person under 18 years of age has a wife or husband,
49     the actor carries out the following with the person who is under 18 years of age:
50          (a) purports to marry the person who is under 18 years of age; [or] and
51          (b) [cohabits] cohabitates with the person who is under 18 years of age.
52          (2) A violation of Subsection (1) is a second degree felony.
53          Section 3. Effective date.
54          If approved by two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, this bill takes effect
55     upon approval by the governor, or the day following the constitutional time limit of Utah
56     Constitution, Article VII, Section 8, without the governor's signature, or in the case of a veto,
57     the date of veto override.


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