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Utah Legislature to tackle abortion, anti-bias bills and parental rights

For the first time since 1999 there will not be an openly gay lawmaker when Utah’s legislative session kicks off early next year. However, there are still many strong allies and supporters.

Lawmakers are already filing potential bills for the pending session. We’ve collected a list of bills that may affect the queer community. This list is not definitive of the entire session and legislators have months to file bills.

Another attempt to pass a statewide nondiscrimination bill will be done with bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats, along with Equality Utah. Recent polling shows that 77 percent of Utahns support the measure. Republicans have successfully blocked the bill from leaving committee.

Gender Selection Abortion Prohibition

In an attempt to show off her conservative credentials, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, is proposing a bill that would ban people from citing the gender of their child as the reason for the procedure. Dayton’s bill is seeking to solve a problem that simply doesn’t exist and Utah Women’s Clinic spokesperson Miriam Staker told the Salt Lake Tribune that women seeking abortions at the clinic do not wish to know the gender of the child. Furthermore, abortion doctors who are asked to perform an ultrasound to determine the gender almost always refuse to do so.

Dayton is virulently opposed to many equality measures and she was a heavy opponent of a statewide nondiscrimination bill that would’ve barred discrimination in housing and the workplace based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

“We should not be forced to suffer economic harm because of others’ certain actions,” Dayton said during last year’s committee hearing.

Restoration of Terminated Parental Rights and Rights of Parents and Children Amendments

In a rehash of previous bills that were tabled or never made it to committee, Rep. LaVarr Christensen is sponsoring two bills about parental rights. The language of the bills is not released and he did not return repeated emails to learn more about the bills.

Christensen was the author of Utah’s Amendment 3, which banned the state from recognizing same-sex marriage performed elsewhere and defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. He’s since made moves to attack gay couples’ ability to enter legal contracts and he is backed by the Utah Eagle Forum.

Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Training

After last year’s failed attempt to overhaul Utah’s sex-education policies, Republican lawmakers aren’t finished. Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, is proposing a measure that would offer classes and online resources to parents for teaching about sex in the home. The bill would not replace existing sex-education policies and procedures.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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