The state of Utah has taken a step towards decriminalising polygamy after its Senate unanimously voted in favour.
Currently, anyone in the state found to be married to more than one person faces up to five years in prison.
The Bill has not yet become law as it still needs to be passed by the state’s House of Representatives.
While bigamy (two spouses) and polygamy (multiple spouses) would not become legal, having more than once spouse would be considered a misdemeanour, and treated similarly to a traffic violation.
Those found guilty of having multiple marriages could be sentenced to a $750 fine, and community service.
Coerced marriage, or deceiving someone into believing they are the sole spouse, will remain a felony.
In Utah, around 30,000 people, or 1 per cent of the population, live in polygamous ‘communities’. Many of these belong to a Mormon sect which split from the official Mormon church when it outlawed polygamy in 1890.
Sound Choices Coalition, a group which represents women who have escaped from coerced polygamous marriages, criticised the Bill.
They said it would be harmful to women as some Mormons who force young women into polygamous marriages by telling them it will ensure their salvation will feel empowered to do so.