Tag Archives: gay rights

“Pursuit of Happiness”: Not if some legislators have their way….

.…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Are our state legislators really interested in the values of our Founding Fathers?  Or are they more interested in property rights…..including owning the "pursuit of happiness" as property?

The interference of such rights are at stake with HB 182, being introduced by Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-District 48.

Christensen (R-District 48) has reintroduced a bill he tried to pass in 2006 which prohibits same-sex couples from making contractual agreements, such as wills and financial arrangements.

The bill, known in 2006 as HB 304, but now as HB 182, slides in under the generic title “Voiding Transactions Against Public Policy,” and declares “an arrangement, agreement, or transaction that is illegal or against public policy to be void and unenforceable.”

HB 182′s language is virtually word-for word from the narrowly-defeated 2006 measure, and if passed, would strip even more rights away from the same-sex couples who depend on contractual arrangements, as Utah denies them any of the inherent protections afforded to heterosexual couples.

~ Eric Ethington

Not only is this bill a violation of the rights of human beings, it is based on the religious beliefs of some on what constitutes a "union" between two individuals.  It is part of their efforts  to do everything possible to impose those beliefs on others through bills such as this one which go so far as to invade the private business of individuals; not to mention that it is unenforceable.  Should a bill like this manage to get passed, everyone’s rights will be more at stake – regardless of gender preference.

Legislators such as Rep. Christensen are living a double standard.  They send messages with some bills that demand less interference from the federal government and claim to want to live the values of Founding Fathers of the United States.  Yet messages such as the degradation of the rights of human beings, as is the intent of HB 182, is antithetical to these other messages, which intend to infringe upon the "unalienable Rights" endowed by the Creator, including the "pursuit of Happiness" of all men, women and children.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

A People Divided

Back in November the Deseret News published the Official text of Utah Compact declaration on immigration reform, a declaration of five principles that was endorsed by many community members, including the LDS church, to “guide Utah’s immigration discussion.”

Then I was reading yesterday’s Salt Tribune article on the growing Momentum building for Utah immigration reform.   Immigration reform is and will continue to be a hot and emotional issue in Utah and beyond.  After reading this article and doing more research I was gearing up for a piece to post on Utah Legislature Watch, formulating information about both sides of the issue along with my own stance on immigration reform.

Little did I know that hours later our nation would be gripped with shock over the terrible tragedy in Tucson, Arizona where a gunman shot US Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords in the head before spraying bullets into a crowd that ultimately resulted in the deaths of six innocent people – among them a 9 year old child.

There is a lot of speculation about why this incident occurred, including the underlying political current in the country, particularly since Rep. Giffords had been a target of threats and vandalism.  It is no surprise that over the past few years there has been increasing amounts of hatred and violence in political debates – the network political commentator programs are no exception to this – inciting hatred and violence amongst people in the United States over their political views and practices.  One only has to read the comments in the articles cited in the first two paragraphs above to see the undercurrent of hate towards fellow human beings without any thought at all to discussing the real problems of immigration reform…or health care reform…or ethics reform…or global warming…or any issue – and devising solutions together as communities should.

There are a lot of things to say on immigration reform in Utah.  In time.  At this time, though, I offer my sympathy to the victims and their families of the tragedy in Tuscon.  I pray for recovery and healing – a healing of not only those directly affected by the incident but also by the rest of us on the periphery – a healing of the heart and mind.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Rep. Christine Johnson, open Lesbian lawmaker, announces exodus from state

This is a sad day for Utah politics.

Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake, has announced her intentions to leave the state of Utah.  The announcement appeared in today’s Daily Herald.

“To me, Utah doesn’t feel like home,” said Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, on Thursday.

Her announcement came as a surprise to many, but Johnson, an open lesbian carrying a surrogate baby for two gay men, said the state is well-equipped to keep up the fight for gay rights.

Johnson took heat from many in the gay community at the beginning of the legislative session for a deal she hammered out with Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, to have both sides put discrimination-related bills away for a year to see how an anti-discrimination ordinance works in Salt Lake City.

Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune of her disenchantment with the Utah Legislature:

"For the past four years, I have stood with my colleagues each morning of the session, placed my hand over my heart and pledged ‘liberty and justice for all,’ " she said in a statement, "and yet repeatedly witnessed blatant disregard of those so in need of equal protections in the name of ‘family values.’ "

This is the 2nd resignation in 3 months from a Utah politician representing the LGBT community.  Former Utah Senator Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake District 2, Utah’s first openly gay senator, announced his resignation from politics on December 9, 2009.

Rep. Johnson honored Utah’s LGBT veterans at this press conference a few months ago where she announced a resolution on repealing the  “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for LGBT citizens who wish to join the military.

The Hill, the LGBT community, and all citizens in Utah will miss Rep. Johnson’s fortitude, bravery, compassion and voice.

Read posts on Utah Legislature Watch involving Rep. Johnson here.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Let the Games Begin!

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Today’s opening of the Utah Legislature will bring  a variety of  issues in the spotlight, among them being:

The Budget- addressing the “shortfall” and how/if to use the “rainy day” fund and other measures to generate revenue –  and within the budget debate are the hot topics of public and higher education, state retirement system, transportation and taxes on food, as well as the overall raising of taxes issue.

Ethics Reform – including a controversial citizen’s initiative and a package of proposed ethics bills by legislators, inlcuding establishing an independent commission to hear complaints from citizens and putting limits on campaign contributions.

Fair Housing and Employment practice for gays and lesbians – a bill proposed that will afford the GLBT population protection from discrimination in employment and housing

Health Care Reform – an overhaul of Utah’s health care system through a package of bills that intend to divert the current sick care system to a more preventative health care system.

Sex Education – measures to determine how much information students should have access to when it comes to using contraception

Be sure to connect to the Utah Legislature’s website which has a multitude of resources including bill tracking, archived videos of the various sessions and a children’s page.  See also Utah Legislature Watch’s post on resources and the various news feeds along the sidebars of our site.

And awaayy we go!

“Chris and Chris” Bill: A Marriage in the Making?

Utah’s ABC 4 has posted a breaking news piece about openly Anti-Gay Senator Chris Buttars teaming up with openly Lesbian Representative Chris Johnson to co-sponsor Johnson’s gay rights bill.

The 2009 Legislative session brought much controversy to the floor over Buttars’ public remarks on gays. To hear of Buttars even considering such a move is astonishing.

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Buttars at it again….

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)
Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, is quoted in the Desert News as saying that the recently passed ordinance (supported by the LDS church) to protect the rights of gay people with regards to housing and employment could result in “unitended consquences”.

“There’s a lot of questions. I’m not jumping to conclusions. I’m going to stand still and let the dust settle,” he said. “I haven’t changed my mind about anything, but I do believe people have fundamental human rights. All people do, and that includes the gays. But you’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t give all those unintended consequences.”

I’m not sure what Buttars means by “unintended consequences”. Could he possibly mean “unforseen”????
Besides, just what are “unintended consequences”? The article fails to quote the anit-gay Utah Senator on that.

Housing and employment protections for gays and lesbians

The Salt Lake City Council has become the first Utah City to pass ordinances that will prevent unfair housing practices based on sexual orientation.

In a rare move, the LDS church attended last night’s council meeting to support the ordinances.

THE LGBT community has been working hard to foster a relationship with church officals.  Progress has been made and this is a step in the right direction.

Read the Deseret News article here.

Read the text of the LDS church’s statement here.

The Mormon Church on “moral” issues

I find it interesting that the Mormon Church went to great lengths to not only openly support the passage of Proposition 8, but financed an advertising campaign urging voters to support it which included messages to voters, believe it or not, such as if gay marriage is permitted, kindergärtners are likely to be educated on gay sex acts.  The ads were filled with lies and deceptions, particularly at the last minute, and opponents did not have adequate time to respond.

From Alternet News: Why the Prop 8 Gay Marriage Ban Won

Ad after ad told voters that without Prop 8, their churches would be forced to perform same-sex unions and stripped of their tax-exempt status; that schools would teach their children to practice homosexuality, and, perhaps most effective, that a smiling Barack Obama had said, "I’m not in favor of gay marriage." This last bit went out in a flier by the Yes on 8 campaign targeting black households.

From the Deseret News – LDS official lauds work for California’s Prop. 8-Elder Clayton says leaders ‘grateful for the sacrifice’
Elder L. Whitney Clayton, a member of the church’s Presidency of the Seventy who helped lead the church’s support for Proposition 8, told reporters during a press conference Wednesday that he doesn’t have a total for how much money was donated by Latter-day Saints. He did say it was "considerable and generous" and that church leaders are "grateful for the sacrifice" made by members who participated in the campaign.

“We believe it’s a moral issue and we reserve the right to speak out on moral issues. We of course disapprove when people take exception to us having spoken out, but we are well within our rights and we are glad to have done so, we believe it was the right thing to do,” Clayton said.
Here is a link to the "statement" by the LDS church on Prop 8

Yet when it comes to other "moral" issues (the LDS church’s defense on Prop 8 is that it is a "moral" issue) such as the act of killing in war, and in particular the illegal war and occupation of Iraq, the LDS church remains silent.

I cannot find any declaration or statement against the Iraq War from the LDS church.  So why, then, is it permissable to remain silent on killing and the violation of human rights by the U.S. and other countries in war and occupation, while supporting efforts to violate human rights on other issues?  Could it be that the LDS church has hidden financial benefits to profits from war?

And now, thanks to this campaign to violate the rights of human beings in America, Utah faces a boycott of its tourist industry which will affect citizens adversely.

And shame on other religious communities for marching in step with the LDS church.

The LDS church has overstepped its stance on "moral" issues by bringing this issue into the political arena – an issue that should remain out of politics- thereby violating the principle of separation of church and state.  By virtue of its support on the gay marriage issue in the realm of politics, it has demonstrated to the world that an institution’s values can be imposed on a population of people with the right amount of money to influence how people should vote throught the pscyhological impacts of advertising.


Media Coverage on Utah Protest of Prop 8

Today’s Salt Lake Tribune has posted a slide show of yesterday’s protest against the LDS Church regarding it’s involvement on influencing voters on California’s Proposition 8.


People gather before marching on the Mormon Temple in protest Friday, Nov. 7, 2008, in Salt Lake City. Leaders of the successful Proposition 8 campaign say an unusual coalition of evangelical Christians, Mormons and Roman Catholics built a majority at the polls Tuesday by harnessing the organizational muscle of churches to a mainstream message about what school children might be taught about gay relationships if the ban failed. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
People gather before marching on the Mormon Temple in protest Friday, Nov. 7, 2008, in Salt Lake City. Leaders of the successful Proposition 8 campaign say an unusual coalition of evangelical Christians, Mormons and Roman Catholics built a majority at the polls Tuesday by harnessing the organizational muscle of churches to a mainstream message about what school children might be taught about gay relationships if the ban failed. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

Thousands protest LDS stance on same-sex marriage

More than 3,000 people swarmed downtown Salt Lake City to march past the LDS temple and church headquarters, protesting Mormon involvement in the campaign for California’s Proposition 8.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and three openly gay state legislators, Sen. Scott McCoy and Reps. Jackie Biskupski and Christine Johnson, spoke out in support. At one point, the crowd took up the mantra made famous by the country’s new president-elect: "Yes, we can!"

"The main focus is going to be going after the Utah brand," John Aravosis, an influential Washington, D.C.-based blogger, told the Associated Press. "We’re going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state."

The LDS church response, according to the above cited article:


Church officials are "disturbed" that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was "singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election," said LDS spokesman Scott Trotter earlier Friday.

    "Millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States – that of free expression and voting," Trotter said. "While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process."

From participants:

"We’ve been quiet for a really long time," said Jen Bogart, 24, who marched beside her girlfriend, with the Salt Lake Temple lit up to her left. "If the gays and lesbians in Utah can march in the streets, the gays and lesbians everywhere can march."
    Doyle Clayburn, 57, said he wanted Utahns to wake up to reality. "There’s not just one or two who care," he said. "It’s not a California issue. It’s a human issue."

“Mr. Sulu” speaks out on gay marriage, including his own, and prop 8

Actor George Takei and his husband react to the vote on Proposition 8: