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Utah lawmakers use religious freedom argument to kill same-sex adoption bill

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah law will not bend to a Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.

That’s the message sent by state representatives who gathered in the House Judiciary Committee to consider House Bill 234, which is sponsored by Democratic Representative Angela Romero.

Romero’s bill would have changed foster parent and adoption law to refer to potential parents in gender neutral terms like “couple” and “spouse” rather than “man and woman.”

“I have a lot constituents who are very loving parents, and for us to deny them a right because of who they love is ridiculous,” Romero told the committee.

The committee chair, Republican Representative LaVar Christensen, said the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the rights of same-sex couples to marry did not compel states to change laws that impact families, citing language from the case, Obergefell vs Hodges, that said religions still have the right to advocate for their beliefs.

His vice chair, Representative Merrill Nelson, agreed.

“The bottom line is that states are required to give gay couples marriage licenses," Nelson said. "They are not required to give gay couples children, either through foster placements or adoptive placements."

But lawyer Paul Burke, an expert brought in to testify with Romero, said the Court clearly compels states to grant equal consideration to straight and same-sex couples.

“The Constitution does not permit the state to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex,” said Burke, reading from Obergefell vs Hodges.

The Judiciary Committee split evenly on the bill, with five votes for and five against.

In the legislature, a tie means the measure fails.

22 comments

  • Anotherbob

    What’s funny is that many gay couples make better couples and better parents than a lot of straight couples and straight parents. Utah will always be behind the curve.

    • BooHoo

      Which curve is that? Sounds like we have an expert at everything including social behavior. Why are those so opposed to the stance of our great state so concerned with changing it, why not just pack up and head to these utopian places you all keep bragging about?

      • Andelain

        Actually, when Utah was granted statehood, the Mormons accepted the Constitution and laws of the United States. I would suggest that if that is no longer acceptable, there’s a desert island somewhere that can be named Deseret. I’m sure that more than a few of us would even be willing to help y’all pack.

    • Apologist JD

      Nevermind that overwhelming evidence collected over decades of research shows that children need parents of each gender for the best outcomes. Children without a male parent (either because of single parent homes or homosexual parents) tend to disproportionately display negative external behaviors and children without a female parent tend to display negative internal behaviors. Let’s quit pretending that unequal things are somehow equal because someone with mental illness wants them to be.

      • Suaria

        Actually there is not enough evidence to say either way if children are better off with either set of couples. The Regnerus report which has been the only way saying children do worse off in same sex couple homes has been disproven. Only two couples in his whole report would be qualified as a same sex couple. If anyone knew basic statistics, four people is hardly a representative sample. The other reports have had flaws in sampling as well.

      • andelain

        Since the evidence is overwhelming, it should be no problem to cite 3 separate, independent, peer reviewed studies that support your claim?

    • bob

      I guess that’s why American society is becoming more and more peaceful, hard-working, tolerant, compassionate, environmentally conscious, prosperous, law-abiding and generally superior……everywhere except Utah.

      Right?

    • bob

      It never existed. The Constitution forbids the Federal government from establishing an official State Religion. In the same sentence it guarantees the right of religious expression.

      The word “separation” never occurs anywhere in the Constitution or its Amendments, in any context.

      The same men who wrote the Constitution established the offices of House and Senate Chaplains, by law, and required that all sessions of Congress begin and end with prayer.

      The liberal version of the Constitution is pure fantasy. Deal with it.

      • Suaria

        No where in the Constitution does it say there has to be a House and Senate Chaplain or that Congress has to begin and end with a prayer.

      • rightlightphotography

        Bigotry: “one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” – Miriam Webster.

        There is one religion fighting this. The LDS religion. They are treating members of the group “married gay couples” with intolerance. It is in the open. By definition, it is Mormon bigotry, and it is on parade.

        Ed merely pointed it out. He did not call for action, nor did he use hate speech. He is not being either bigoted nor intolerant. Comparing him to Judas, in some circles, would, however, be considered intolerant and bigoted.

        “look to yourselves, hypocrites.” as the saying goes…

    • ANOTHERBOB

      There was a time before your apostasy Ed that you were an LDS bishop. There was also a time when Judas was an active apostle. How sad.

  • Pam Schraeder Capone

    If a LDS parent’s kid is killed from neglect – it’s just an unfortunate accident. Yay that’s good parenting Utah. Example…Southern Utah, mom left the baby in the car during summer and she died. I am so sick of this BS.

  • rachel

    i dont get how this is a religious thing. the children do not have a religion, until they decide when they are old enough to determine what they want in life.

  • Bob Curtis

    The committee chair, Republican Representative LaVar Christensen, said the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the rights of same-sex couples to marry did not compel states to change laws that impact families, citing language from the case, Obergefell vs Hodges, that said religions still have the right to advocate for their beliefs.
    I’m sorry Mr. Christensen, I don’t follow. How does language stating that religions have the right to advocate for their beliefs have any bearing on whether the actions of our elected state legislature are acceptable?

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