Ben McAdams Fights For Wrongful Death Rights In 2010

After Senator Scott McCoy retired from the Utah State Senate a month ago, the question has been constant in Utah’s LGBT community: Will Ben McAdams live up to his pledge to support us? Looks like he’s making good!

"I want to raise my children in a society where everyone is treated equally under the law"

This weekend, Senator-elect Ben McAdams called us at PRIDE In Utah with the news that he will be spear-heading a Wrongful Death bill this session. Many may remember that this was Senator McCoy’s bill last year, but it was shot down in committee.

So does this bill have a chance this year where it failed last time? “It’s never passed before, but I’m hopeful in this climate it could pass,” said Ben, speaking of not only the LDS Church’s recent support of the Salt Lake City Non-Discrimination ordinances, but the nation-wide push to recognize American LGBT citizens as equal to everyone else.

So what exactly would this bill do? “Well currently,” said Ben, “if my wife died because a drunk truck driver hit her and killed her, I could sue the negligent driver for wrongful death and get compensation, because we’re inter-dependent. But a same-sex couple or any other inter-dependent but unmarried adults wouldn’t be able to make that claim. The genius of this bill is that it’s not just about same-sex partners, but all inter-dependent adults like mothers and daughters living together.”

This bill could have a major impact on Utah LGBT citizens, is this something Ben is taking seriously? Or is this just positioning for his LGBT constituents? “This bill is my priority,” he says, “[and] I’m running with the intent to pass it.” The wrongful death bill is sure to run into opposition in the legislature, but McAdams doesn’t seem to be too worried, “This is something the republicans can afford to support, both ethically and politically,” he says with a small laugh, “it’s a good bill.”

So what does this mean personally for Ben McAdams, why is he making this his priority? “Well I think we’ve got to keep the dialogue going at the legislature, this [Wrongful Death] bill highlights that there are many responses the legislature has given that these things can be accomplished in contract. But how often do people go out and do the contract? How often are people going to have what they need in place for an emergency? My wife and I are both attorneys and we haven’t even had a contract put together. So there’s a need to change the law. But it’s more than that,  a wrongful death is different than hospital visitation, in that there’s no way to contract for it.”

The Utah Legislature constantly claims that because people can contract for rights like hospital visitation there is no need for putting laws in place to protect Utah citizens. But the arguments hold little weight, as it’s fairly commonplace for partners to be denied the rights even if they do manage to put a contract in place.

“There are needs that need to be met for financially interdependent adults,” Ben says, “I think equality is personal, if Julie (Ben’s wife) and I are entitled to it, then I want to raise my children in a society where everyone is treated equally under the law.”

I cannot say how thrilled I am to have Ben McAdams on our side!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by shinshige on January 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    OK, Ben. You are the man. I have known Ben, as personal friend, for a dozen years, we met in (I believe) 1998 while we were students at the University of Utah. 12 years later, I have never been let down by Ben, what he does, believes, and for what he fights. Being a male, married to a woman, I have no vested interest in this legislation, but being bi-sexual, and more importantly, being human, I have 100% interest in any legislation that says people are people, regardless of sexual orientation.

    Congratulations again to Ben and for his willingness to fight the good fight.


  2. I hope it will pass. Maybe since there is a straight Mormon leading the charge it will do better with the majority who are in office. Sad, but possible. I loved Scott McCoy. But, if Ben will tackle the same issues. I will support him too. It shouldn’t matter who you are but what you stand for. Choose the right is treating everyone equally!!!!!!


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