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Utah’s Legislature Shoots Down Every Gay Rights Bill It Can

caput01The Common Ground Initiative, a ground breaking series of gay-rights bills designed to confer basic liberties to Utah’s gays and lesbians reached the end of the line Wednesday as legislators killed off the final bill, which was aimed at hospital visitation rights, in committee. It’s depressing, if not surprising news from the U.S.’ most conservative state.

There are two ways to look at this. Many moderate gay leaders believe the only way gay rights bills get passed is if they are bundled in with other appropriations. Then there are others, including us, who believe that there’s a value in highlighting lawmaker’s homophobia by making them vote on singular bills like this. Unfortunately, when the bills never make it out of committee, only a small handful of politicians can be held accountable.

At the very least, the legacy of the Common Ground Initiative will be that it sparked a discussion in Utah about gay rights. Here’s hoping it’s a conversation that won’t stop anytime soon.

The Deseret Morning News reports on Utah’s wild six weeks:

“Still, the Common Ground Initiative garnered support for gay rights never before seen in Utah, said Equality Utah Executive Director Mike Thompson.

The debate, at times, took ugly turns — including a full-page ad that ran Sunday in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune disparaging homosexuality. The advertisement prompted rebuttals from advocacy groups and conservative lawmakers alike.

The Human Rights Campaign called the ad “outrageous lies attempting to dehumanize an entire group of Americans.”

Legislators on both sides of the aisle also denounced the ad.

“I don’t want to leave this room without expressing my dismay at the ad that was in the Sunday papers,” said Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, after voting against Seelig’s bill. “I thought it was deplorable and full of half-truths. And I hope that we grow in our respect and esteem for each other in the future.”

Despite the knocks they took during the session, Common Ground supporters remained hopeful and resolute Wednesday.

“We’re just breaking ground on Common Ground,” said Thompson, adding Equality Utah plans to roll out its post-legislative agenda sometime next week.

The lawmakers who sponsored the bills said they will bring their bills back again next year.

“My timeline is not bound by a 45-minute committee hearing or 45 days of a session,” Seelig said.”

By:           Japhy Grant
On:           Feb 19, 2009
Tagged: ,
  • 12 Comments
    • Mad Professah
      Mad Professah

      I’m shocked, SHOCKED to see that the majority Republican (and Mormon) legislature in Utah is rejecting basic equality and civil rights protections for LGBT people!

      (Not.)

      Feb 19, 2009 at 11:14 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ChicagoJimmy
      ChicagoJimmy

      Well I guess they can now just shut the fuck up about this all being about the word marriage and not wanting to deny anyone any rights. Where was the Mormon church on these initiatives? Did they provide their full-throated support to simply providing the right to visit one’s partner in the hospital or the right to not be discriminated against in housing or employment?

      Feb 19, 2009 at 11:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Vivian
      Vivian

      Somewhere in Utah there’s a little chrome handle sticking out of one of those pretty rocks they have all over the place. If someone were to push that handle, there would be a loud whooshing sound and a mass of circular, swirling water would flush the entire state away. Let’s find that handle, shall we?

      Feb 19, 2009 at 11:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sebbe
      Sebbe

      @ChicagoJimmy – right on

      Feb 19, 2009 at 11:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dennis
      Dennis

      I’m in Utah, and worked to support the CGI. The LDS Church kept completely silent on the CGI bills, at least publicly (I’m sure they were happy to let their proxies in the legislature take the heat). They were caught with their pants down when Equality Utah took them up on their statements of support for these rights.

      Still, what has happened is amazing. More and more Utahns, including a surprising number of Mormons (I work with and am friends with many who are dismayed by prop 8 and the CGI bills), are beginning to support us – we just need to move them to the place where they will call & email legislators to tell them that, and vote to get rid of the bigots.

      Feb 19, 2009 at 11:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller

      By being conspicuously quiet on the CGI bills the Mormon Church proved, yet once again, what disingenuous liars they are.

      If nothing else, they are exposing themselves for the bigoted, hateful homophobes that they are.

      They are in the same class as the classless Fred Phelps Camp.

      Bet they’d get banned from entering Britain just like Phelps. And, if not, they should be.

      Feb 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • leschuck
      leschuck

      Let the record show the Mormon Church is the opprssor, the bigot, the sworn enemy of civil equality in America for all gay citizens.

      Feb 19, 2009 at 3:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dfrw
      dfrw

      I am stunned. Stunned. Stunned is the only word to describe how stunned I am.

      NOT!

      Feb 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • petted
      petted

      @Charles J. Mueller: Afraid the Mormon’s already have a beach head in the UK – don’t remember the name of the town but apparently they have one of their missionary training camps there.

      We should make sure that the Mormon church’s silence and the death of all the bills in committee gets mainstream media coverage – having them have to spend more time and money on PR damage control certainly wont upset me.

      Feb 20, 2009 at 4:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller

      @petted:

      And as a part-time resident of the Philippines, I am sad to report that they also have a number of beach heads there as well…one of which is just down the road from where we live.

      I agree with you 100% about making it necessary for them to spend more time and money on PR damage control.

      They have far too much money to spend on guns and ammunition to make war with.

      Feb 20, 2009 at 4:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sebbe
      Sebbe

      @Charles – Like I have said before. I hope soon you are able to be with your loved one full time.

      Feb 20, 2009 at 9:38 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charles J. Mueller
      Charles J. Mueller

      @Sebbe:

      Thank you, Sebbe. That’s most kind of you.

      Feb 22, 2009 at 12:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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