Gov’s veto of sex ed bill met with mixed reactions

Utah political groups have mixed reactions to Governor Herbert’s veto of an abstinence-only sex education bill.

House Bill 363, which would ban talk of contraceptives, homosexuality and sex before marriage, passed the Utah House and Senate amid controversy.

Governor Herbert vetoed the bill on Friday night, saying the bill deprives parents of their choice in how their children are educated about sex.

“After careful review of existing law and following extensive discussions with stakeholders on both sides of the issue, I am convinced the existing statutory framework respects these two principles, while HB 363 simply goes too far by constricting parental options,” Herbert said in a statement released Friday night.

Supporters of the bill say Governor Herbert doesn’t understand the reasoning of the bill. Some political conservatives say teaching contraception in school is like telling kids not to do drugs, then showing them how to use them.

“Extremely disappointed. He did not make a good choice, it’ll affect the children of Utah. He just gave his stamp of approval to teaching children about the safest way for children to have premarital sex,” said Gayle Ruzicka, President of the Utah Eagle Forum. “They took a lot of time voting for it and making that decision. And those are the people in his party and I think he has violated their trust.”

Democratic opponents are glad Herbert vetoed the bill, but say waiting until Friday night was an attempt to bury the decision. His veto came the day after Republicans chose the delegates who will select the Republican nominees at their April convention.

“I’m gratified. I think it’s a great thing. I think he made the right decision,” said Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City. “The fact is many, many of our kids are going to be sexually active in high school. We owe it to them to make sure they have the knowledge to protect themselves.”

Herbert noted in his statement that under current law, parents can still opt out of sex education.

The legislature could try to override Governor Herbert’s veto, but they would have to gather more votes than they had to pass HB 363 in the first place.

The House of Representatives voted 45 to 28 with 2 absent or no-votes. They’ll need 50 votes to get the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.

The Senate only needs one more vote than last time to override. They voted 19 to 10 in favor of the bill and would need 20 to get the two-thirds needed.

The legislature hasn’t said whether they’ll try for the veto.