Only one bill remains of what is called the Common Ground Initiative, a series of bills aimed at providing basic rights to gays and lesbians in Utah. On Tuesday, two bills, one focused on gay adoption and the other designed to protect LGBT people from employment and housing discrimination were defeated in House committees. What’s left? A bill that would provide hospital visitation rights for gay couples and given that every other gay rights bill sent to the House has been rejected, hopes are fading fast for it, too.
“In rejecting the latest measures, opponents painted being gay as a “choice” rather than an innate characteristic — contrary to a broad consensus among psychological and medical experts.
“Adoption is not a right, it’s a privilege. Those who choose alternative lifestyles suffer the consequences because they can’t naturally produce between them,” said Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, who joined a 5-1 vote to defeat HB288. “Heterosexual couples who cohabit also face consequences because they choose not to marry.”
And on the anti-discrimination bill, Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka made a similar case against adding sexual orientation to existing fair housing and employment laws.
“What we’re talking about is choice — someone’s sexual choice,” she told a House panel. “Why would we put into law someone’s sexual choice? … This is not the right thing to do.”
Advocates for Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community argued not passing the proposed laws imperils Utahns.
“The children of gay and lesbian families are in jeopardy,” said Father Robert Bussen of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Parish in Park City, who is gay and celibate. “The simple safeguards that keep a family intact are not given to gays and lesbians in Utah.”
Current state law prevents, for instance, a lesbian mom from allowing her partner to be an adoptive parent. “