The Straight Line

Is equality really that difficult?

The actions of Utah’s idiot-right never cease to amaze me.  As the Utah Legislature began its “work” this year, a number of such idiotic actions come to mind.  I’m going to skip Carl Wimmer’s (R-Herriman) ongoing fascination with Browning Arms and Chris Buttars’ (R-West Jordan) endless quest to make Utah’s children as ignorant as himself.  Let’s talk about something at a much more fundamental level: basic equality.

Over the past year eleven Utah municipal governments, scattered across the state, from the very north to the very south, large cities and small towns, have passed ordinances to provide non-discrimination protections for their LGBTQ citizens. Polls are showing that 70 percent of Utah voters believe that it is time for the Legislature to pass similar protections at the state level.  The LDS Church went so far as to endorse the ordinance passed in Salt Lake City – one would assume that means they would support a similar ordinance statewide.

The obvious question is why do statewide protections not currently exist in Utah?  The more subtle question, however, is why are members of the Legislature trying to undermine these protections and create even greater inequalities?

Take for example State Representative LaVar Christensen’s pathetic HB182 – “Voiding Transactions Against Public Policy.”  This bill enacts the following:  “Void and unenforceable agreements.  An arrangement, agreement, or transaction that is unlawful or violates public policy is void and unenforceable.”

That’s the entire bill, folks.  I first looked at that and shook my head in a bit of confusion.  What is this about, I wondered.  Then I dug a bit deeper.  Same-sex couples in Utah can’t marry, hence, they don’t have survivorship rights to “joint” estates, property, etc.  Many couples enter into contracts in order to provide some long-term protections to their same-sex partners, in defiance of “public policy.”  This bill, if passed, would put an end to that practice and put the rights of a surviving partner at the mercy of the family of the deceased.  Not always the best situation.

I spoke with Senator Ben McAdams last week at the Capitol regarding his bill (soon to be introduced) which would extend housing and employment protections to the LGBTQ community.  He expressed a bit of worry that the Legislature might just go the opposite direction and attempt to undo the ordinances passed by the various municipalities last year.

Really?  Is it that hard for these bigots to accept that we are all equal?  I’m an atheist, so I don’t buy into the “endowed by their Creator” stuff, and I like to think that “all men” references “all humans,”  but I still believe the basic premise of the Declaration of Independence, that we are all equal.  As such, we all have equal rights.  The only time anyone’s rights should be limited is when the exercise of said right adversely impacts someone else or society.

So, can someone please tell me how an individual or society is adversely impacted by a married gay couple?  Can you explain how it would be in society’s best interest to void a contract between two people that would provide for one in the event of the other’s death?  Please tell me how society benefits by allowing housing and employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

I beat on this dead horse in my last two columns, and I’m going to say it again.  The Utah Legislature is going to be making decisions that will impact your lives.  The way things are looking right now, a good deal of this nonsense is going to be slipped under the radar with innocuous-sounding little bills like 182.  If you don’t want to see your rights tromped on more than they already are, you need to be aware, and you need to be involved.

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