LGBT rights group opposes Utah judge nomination

SALT LAKE CITY — The LGBT rights group Equality Utah is opposing a former state lawmaker’s nomination to be a judge, accusing him of being biased against same-sex couples and their children.

In an email to supporters on Friday, Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams urged people to contact the Utah State Senate in opposition of Kraig Powell’s nomination to the Fourth District Court, based in Utah County. He specifically objected to statements Powell made in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage referring to it as “pairage,” as well as a proposal Powell made while in the Utah State Legislature that would have given preference to heterosexual couples in adoptions.

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Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, in an interview with FOX 13 earlier this year. (File photo)

Powell had the support of Equality Utah last year when he proposed removing reference to “husband and wife” in Utah code, but it opposed him on the adoption bill. The Heber City lawmaker abandoned both bills during the session earlier this year.

“The Utah Code of Judicial Conduct explicitly bans discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation,’ and states that a judge shall perform the duties of judicial office ‘without bias or prejudice.’ And yet Powell is on the record advancing legislation to establish a second-class status for lesbian and gay parents,” Williams wrote in the email blast. “We can’t allow this to become precedent. We need to send a clear message to legislators that Utah needs impartial judges who will serve all Utahns without prejudice.”

Read the email from Equality Utah to its supporters here:

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Powell, who dropped out of a re-election race earlier this year, did not return a message seeking comment on Friday. Governor Gary Herbert’s office defended his nomination.

The Utah State Senate’s Judicial Confirmation Committee will consider Powell’s nomination on Monday.