Utah Capitol building
Utah Capitol building iStock

Utah's state senate on Tuesday voted unanimously to essentially decriminalize polygamy among consenting adults, The Guardian reported.

The new bill reduces penalties for polygamy and reduces the offense from a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison to an infraction with a maximum fine of $750 and a community service sentence.

It does not, however, change the status of underage marriage or fraudulent bigamy, in which additional spouses are not informed of their status.

The bill now goes to Utah's House of Representatives.

State Sen. Deidre Henderson (R) last week told Reuters that she believes "the solution to the problem is increased societal integration, which can only come through decriminalizing otherwise law-abiding polygamists." She explained that decriminalization will allow polygamists to receive necessary medical and mental health care without fearing legal consequences.

Opponents of polygamy say the practice inherently harms women and children, especially young women who may be forced into arranged marriages with older men.

Utah has a large community of Mormons, many of whom still practice polygamy.