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Gay rights in Utah

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The gay rights movement of Utah has been studied by national gay rights groups in the United States. It is regarded as fairly successful, particularly in that Utah is an extremely conservative state.

The state's gay pride parade is the second most attended yearly parade in the state. Three state legislators, Sen. Scott McCoy, Rep. Jackie Biskupski, and Rep. Christine Johnson, are openly gay[1] and Utah is one of only a handful of states where the legal recognition of same-sex couples was voted on in the state Senate in March 2005 when it considered creating a reciprocal beneficiary. The measure failed by eight votes.

2005 Edit

Utah State University domestic partnerships Edit

Barry Franklin a professor of the College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University passed out a petition and gathered enough signatures to raise the issue of giving domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples on November 21, 2005. A vote is expected to occur on December 5, 2005.

The University had planned to create a domestic partnership registry in early 2005, but their legal counsel, Craig Simper, said it might violate Utah state constitutional amendment three. Mr. Simper stated that under his interpretation of the amendment, "No other domestic union may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equal legal effect". He also added in March 2005 that, "Utah State University does not want to be the test case and does not intend to be the test case."

Salt Lake City domestic partnerships Edit

In September 2005, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson signed an executive order creating domestic partnerships for city employees. Quickly thereafter an Arizona based Christian legal group called the Alliance Defense Fund sued the city, claiming that the policy violates Utah constitutional amendment three. The American Civil Liberties Union has joined the city in its defense saying the policy is needed on the basis of having, "the right to be free from discrimination based on their relationships and the right to equal compensation for equal work."

State legislators Chris Buttars and LaVar Christensen are highly critical of Anderson's measures. Buttars said that, "Rocky has attracted the entire gay community to come and live in Salt Lake County." And Christensen said he may propose a law in the state legislature to prevent the Mayor's policies. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation put Anderson on their top ten list of supporters of gay rights in 2005.

Salt Lake County domestic partnerships Edit

In July 2005, the Salt Lake County council voted along partisan lines with 5 against to four in favor of providing domestic partner benefits to employees in same-sex relationships. The council's five Republican members said they were defending Utah state constitutional amendment three that passed with 54% of the vote in the county.

However, a poll published in the Salt Lake Tribune casted doubt on that. It found 47 percent of Utahns and 57 percent of Salt Lake County residents would support such a system. Other findings included that Utah voters did not expect the marriage amendment to block the extension of medical benefits to gay workers. Of those polled, 77 percent thought Amendment 3 would "simply define marriage." Another 39 percent believed the constitutional change would "prevent civil unions." And 33 percent said they believed the amendment would prevent gay and lesbian couples from "having any basic benefits or rights, such as health insurance or hospital visitation."

Provo gay - straight alliance Edit

Students at Provo High School created a gay straight alliance club in August 2005. Provo city is regarded as one of Utah's most conservative areas. In response, some community members asked the Provo Board of Education to shut it down. However, the district concluded it would violate federal law to do so and instead created a new policy requiring parental signatures to join any school clubs.

Some parents had argued the club could not comply with state law banning students from "discussing or promoting sexual activities except within marriage". Provo district officials said that a federal law states that students' speech cannot be limited.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Stone, Andrea (2006-05-09). Gay candidates look to further rights at state level. USA Today. Retrieved on 2006-11-17.

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