A recent poll has found that a majority of Utahn s— 63 percent — agree with the censuring of a state senator for anti-gay remarks he made during the 2009 legislative session.
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, made the controversial remarks in February during an interview with documentary filmmaker Reed Cowan for a documentary Cowan is making about the LDS Church and Proposition 8, the controversial constitutional amendment which re-banned gay marriage in California and which many Mormons supported. In the interview, Buttars said that gays lacked morals, engaged in “pig sex” and compared them to terrorists as “the biggest threat to America going down.”
When Cowan released the interview to the press, Buttars received nationwide attention and criticism. Shortly after that, senate Republicans removed Buttars from his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee. Many Utahns, however, did not think the censure went far enough, and even criticized senate leaders for stating that they agreed with “some” of Buttars’ comments.
Despite calls for his resignation, Buttars wrote on the Senate majority’s blog that he would not resign and would continue defending marriage from “an increasingly vocal and radical segment of the homosexual community.”
The poll, conducted for the Deseret News and KSL TV by Utah-based market and public opinion research group Dan Jones & Associates, showed that 63 percent of Utahns supported Buttars’ censure. Thirty-one percent opposed it. The poll was conducted in March and surveyed 400 Utahns statewide. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
Senate president Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, told the Deseret News that the poll was an attack on Buttars, whom he described as “intelligent” and convicted.
“All you’re going to do is make it nasty again for someone who doesn’t deserve it,” he said.
Will Carlson, Manager of Public Policy for statewide gay rights group Equality Utah, said, however, that he was pleased at the poll’s results.
“Utahns are fair minded as a rule, and Sen. Buttars is not,” he said. “So I think it’s no surprise that Utah want to distinguish their position from Sen. Buttars.”