Utah Legislature Postpones Gay Rights Bills

SLC – In an announcement from Capitol Hill today, Utah legislators announced that in return for ultra-conservatives law-makers not passing a law outlawing all non-discrimination ordinances state wide, pro-human legislators will agree to not run any gay rights bills this year.

Since Salt Lake City and County passed their historic ordinances this past year banning discrimination against LGBT people in housing or employment,  some nut-job elected officials (spurned on by Paul Mero and Gayle Ruzicka) have been pushing a “pre-emptive” strike against the gay community by making those laws and any others like them illegal. But now after intense negotiations from some of the heroes in the legislature like Senator Ben McAdams and Representative Christine Johnson, the legislature has agreed to a two-party “stand down.” This means that while Buttars and his stooges will agree to not pass the pre-emptive bills, our side also agrees to not try to pass any gay rights bills this year.

But where does that leave us? Doesn’t that just mean we will face the same fight next year and we’ve just pushed it off for now? Apparently one of the stipulations of the stand down is that over the next year the state will launch a program similar to the what the Human Rights Commission ran for Salt Lake City, a comprehensive report on whether basic protections for Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender are needed.

So will this be a good thing? The bill is being co-sponsored by Representative Christine Johnson and Senator Stephenson, two unlikely partners as they sit on far opposites of their ideals. The committee will allow “for some breathing room, and to prevent any rash decisions of either side” they say. The 3 main LGBT bills this year were Johnson’s anti-discrimination bill, Senator McAdams Wrongful Death bill, and Rep Chavez-Houck’s Adoption legislation. Although unfortunately, all three were almost guaranteed to fail yet again.

“This will provide for some learning experience” Christine Johnson says, “I’m sick of seeing my bills shot down in committee every year and perhaps this will provide some insight as to why.” But what happens if the committee comes back next year and says that the non-discrimination ordinances are necessary but Majority leaders like Chris Buttars still quashes them? “Well that will open up things to a lot of class lawsuits” says Rep Johnson, “because at that point all the evidence is there and they won’t have any legs to stand on to shoot the [bills] down.”


11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Scott Lundberg on January 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Hmmmmm . . . . . this sounds like a poor compromise to me. This community gets thrown under the bus time and time again. If a committee is setup, as proposed in the bill, and it manages to survive a very challenging period in terms of the state budget, results won’t be out for another year before the 2011 session. In my mind, that means little actionable results for a minimum of two years.

    That’s a lot more than this year alone if you consider the reality of government and I’m saddened by the prospect.


  2. Posted by Dominique on January 29, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Leaves me rather speechless. I suppose a 1 year détente could allow all sides some cooling off. Hopefully then, we could all work together on making Utah a better place to live.

    I’m not confident that will happen. *shrugs*


  3. Posted by Janice on January 29, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I have really been afraid that the legislature will stop SLC from continuing with the ordinance. If we really stood a big chance of losing a battle to bad legislation than this would be a good deal. We try to pass bills, but need to face the reality that we won’t get what we want here in Utah until things change….a lot.


  4. Posted by Gail Turpin on January 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I guess there is a political strategy behind this. However, after spending a week supporting 8:TMP and seeing it, I could not be more tired of the church running the show. They throw a few crumbs to the LGBT community while, at the same time, saying they do so because it doesn’t do “violence” to traditional marriage.

    I am so thankful I can speak my mind without having to censor what I say because I have to be careful not to offend the likes of people like Chris Buttars or Micheal Waddoups.


    • Posted by Reb Huggins on January 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      I am right there with you, Gail! After what we’ve seen and heard this week, the facts that 8:TMP has laid out should speak for themselves! I, too, am utterly sick of delays orchestrated by the ‘powers that be.’ They have no business being in power in the first place, since they can only think of their own interests. By succumbing to this process, we are are hold for at least two years.


  5. Posted by Justan Peterson on January 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

    This is rather unfortunate news. However, I’m going to look at it this way, and I hope others agree; This is the perfect opportunity for EVERY LGBT person in Utah to get involved politically, with their community, educating people with personal stories, gaining support on a grassroots front. 2010 will NOT (if I have anything to do with it) be a year of laziness, complacency, and ‘it’s not worth the fight’ attitudes.
    Every person with able legs and mouths in this state, who supports equal rights, now needs to go out and talk to people who would otherwise not support our cause.
    Let’s make sure that 2011 is the year of legislation, results, and equality!
    Thank you as always, my dear Eric, for your passion.

    Peace and love,


  6. […] Ethington at the Pride In Utah blog writes: Since Salt Lake City and County passed their historic ordinances this past year banning […]


  7. So frustrating to live in such a backward state. There is so much ignorance to fight that it can really seem overwhelming.


  8. Posted by Sheri Lawson on January 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    As a straight advocate for the gay community and also someone who was born and raised in Utah, (been in California for 30 years though) I personally want to apologize to the entire GLBT community for the way you are treated. I want to say sorry for the heartache you feel time and time again when people choose to dismiss you as unimportant. You ARE important and you are valid and vital human beings. You will gain equality and acceptance one day, and I pray to God I’m around to witness that bright day.
    Peace and blessings my friends,


  9. […] – With the controversial “compromise” between the pro-human rights legislators and the extremist right-wing hanging in the […]


  10. […] – With the controversial “compromise” between the pro-human rights legislators and the extremist right-wing hanging in the […]


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