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LGBT Equality Issues at the Capitol (2016 Edition)

22 February 2016 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist

Grabbing the most headlines last week was the LDS Church’s statement on SB107, which suggested that the hate crimes law update would “alter the balance” achieved in last year’s anti-discrimination legislation. Screen Shot 2016 02 22 at 4.09.19 PM

 SB107 – HATE CRIMES AMENDMENTS

No, wait, grabbing MORE headlines was the powerful response to that statement. Equality Utah hosted a press conference at which Senator Steve Urquhart raised eyebrows, enlightened minds, and even watered a couple of eyes. Sen. Urquhart apologized to the various communities that would have been served some measure of justice by SB107.

Upset that the LDS Church’s public statement would ruin the chances for SB107’s passage, Sen. Urquhart said that without hate crimes legislation, “burning a cross on a black family’s lawn is considered the same as burning a pile of leaves.”

SB107 is not the only ball in play for the LGBT community, though - there are plenty of other important equality issues being bantered about Capitol Hill this session!

HB382 – PARENTAGE AMENDMENTS

There were many whispers early in the session about a bill that would advise the state to show preference for straight couples over same-sex couples seeking to adopt children. Now we know that where there is smoke, there’s fire! Kraig Powell’s HB382, “Parentage Amendments,” was recently made public and it does exactly what we feared.

We support the part of this bill that codifies the victory the ACLU of Utah achieved last year in the case of Roe v. Patton, where the court held that the law establishing parentage for both spouses when children are conceived by assisted conception must apply equally to same-sex spouses.  This bill will help ensure clarity of the law. However, this bill also includes amendments of the adoption law that are seriously problematic for the equal treatment and protection of families headed by LGBT parents.

By giving the state permission to preference straight couples over same-sex couples in adoption placements, HB382 encourages discrimination against same-sex parents that is clearly unconstitutional. The state cannot make decisions about who is an appropriate parent, based on the gender of that parent. We are strongly opposed to this discriminatory language, and oppose HB382 as long as this language is included. 

HB393 - SOVEREIGN MARRIAGE AUTHORITY

Rep. LaVar Christensen, never one to disappoint when it comes to attacks on the equal treatment and protection of LGBT individuals and their families, introduced HB393, “Sovereign Marriage Authority,” last week.

The title pretty much says it all. This bill looks like an attempt to rollback the historic equality established by Obergefell v. Hodges, which ensured the equal treatment and protection of same-sex couples who seek to be joined in marriage.

Believing that Rep. Christensen is seeking to give authority over marriage to the state to undercut the Obergefell decision, the ACLU of Utah strongly oppose this insult to LGBT families.