|Polygamy 'lost boys' may gain liberation|
House gets bill that allows minors to seek emancipation
By Peter Nagy|
Deseret Morning News
The "lost boys" of the polygamous communities in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., could have the means to gain legal emancipation under a bill that advanced in the Legislature Thursday.
HB30, which would allow minors who are at least 16 years old to petition for emancipation, passed unanimously through the House Health and Human Services Committee and will now move to the House floor.
Co-sponsoring Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem, who has spent time in juvenile court as an attorney and mediator, said it is very difficult for courts to emancipate minors without the statutory framework the bill would provide.
"This is something that is very needed," she said.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said the bill would especially help boys who were thrown out of Hildale and Colorado City, often referred to as the "lost boys," because it would provide them with an option other than accusing their parents.
"Kids don't want (the state) to get their parents because they love them," he said. "They feel their parents are victims as well."
In order for minors to currently obtain legal and financial standing to enter into contracts, they need either parental consent or for the courts to declare their parents negligent or abusive.
If HB30 becomes law, minors would be able to petition a juvenile court judge for their own emancipation if they prove they are a minor capable of living independently and the circumstances warrant it.
"(The bill) is certainly not used for a child who is upset with their parents," Fowlke said.
Boys in the Hildale and Colorado City communities, where polygamy is practiced, are often thrown out of their houses and the community simply because there are not enough females for them to marry.
"It's simple mathematics," Shurtleff said.
Once they are homeless, few options exist for them, as they can't do things like open a bank account or get student loans without a parental signature.
Hailing from Washington County, Rep. Bradley Last, R-St. George, has had first-hand experience with the "lost boys."
"They are resourceful; they do hard work," he said.
Shurtleff said that with the opportunities the bill provides, he thinks the boys could be valuable contributors to society.
Minors who are emancipated would not have the same rights as adults, such as right to vote and right to purchase alcohol and firearms.
The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Roz McGee, D-Salt Lake City, who sponsored by the same measure last year, when it passed the House but the Senate never acted on it.
Originally published Friday, January 20, 2006
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