Lawmakers Crack Down on Polygamists and Teen Marriages

Lawmakers Crack Down on Polygamists and Teen Marriages

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Government Specialist Richard Piatt reporting Utah lawmakers are taking a swipe at polygamists in the state, especially those who want to marry a person under the age of 18.

This morning, a House committee passed a bill aimed at protecting girls from being married off into polygamist relationships.

One woman today says she was forced to become a man's fourth wife when she was only 15.

Now, after fleeing polygamy, she is speaking out in favor of harsher penalties for what has been a common practice in some polygamy communities.

Lu Ann Kingston, a former member of the Kingston polygamist group, says her sisters shared the same experience. It's all too common, she says.

The bill is something most people would say is common sense. But by imposing stricter penalties of up to 15 years in prison, LuAnn says it will help young women like her escape the intense pressure of marrying too young.

"I told him, I said, 'maybe this is the person I'm supposed to marry, but I am too young. I am not ready for this.' And he said, 'if you're not ready then there's something wrong in your life,'" Kingston says.

"Our emphasis is child abuse, child protection, incest welfare fraud, that kind of activity that goes on in those communities, and that's all we can do at this point," says attorney general Mark Shurtleff.

Utah's attorney general says there is a problem with bigamy among adults, but the state can't realistically prosecute everyone.

He says this bill is a way for the state to pick its battles.

Other bills advancing at the Capitol today include a bill that would create a statewide 'do not call' list to help deal with annoying telemarketing calls.

And a bill passed the House that would remove restrictions on out of state gun permit holders.

The House also today rejected a resolution that would have sent a message to Congress to remove the United States from the United Nations.

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