Because Latter-day Saint women did not use their newly won civic freedom to abolish polygamy, national lawmakers and Utah’s growing non-Latter-day Saint population feared that suffrage had merely strengthened the Church’s political reach. Politicians began drafting laws to disenfranchise the new voters.
In 1882 the Edmunds Act disqualified polygamous men and women from voting. The 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act disenfranchised all Utah women, regardless of whether or not they practiced plural marriage.
Some ladies’ clubs organized and voiced their support for antipolygamy legislation. Other Utah women and national suffrage leaders saw this as a setback to the suffrage movement.
Zina Presendia Young Williams Card (1850–1931) was the daughter of Brigham and Zina Young. She attended the 1879 National Woman Suffrage Association convention in Washington, D.C., and met with President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy, to defend plural marriage.
Charlotte Ives Cobb Godbe Kirby (1836–1908) was Brigham Young’s stepdaughter. Once a plural wife of Latter-day Saint dissident William Godbe, Charlotte was the first Utah woman to hold office in a national suffrage organization. She publicly renounced federal legislation targeted at Latter-day Saints.
In the wake of disenfranchisement, Utah women found an outspoken advocate in Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood (1830–1917), one of the first female lawyers in the United States. On several occasions she drew national criticism for speaking in defense of the Latter-day Saints.