Polarizing Utah state Sen. Chris Buttars — a fierce opponent of gay rights and a champion of drug treatment — dies at age 76

(Chris Detrick | Tribune file photo) In this 2006 file photo, Sen. Chris Buttars discusses S.B. 96: Public Education - Instruction and Policy Relating to the Origins of Life. The bill passed 4-2-1.

Former state Sen. Chris Buttars, who sponsored Utah’s same-sex marriage ban and became one of the most polarizing figures in Utah politics, died Monday at age 76.

Buttars had long championed conservative social causes, fighting to restrict abortion in the state and opposing what he considered the homosexual agenda, crusades that made him a favorite of the Republican right.

“I’m going to tell you where I stand and I don’t want to know where you stand. You may not agree with me but you’ll always know where I stand,” Buttars said in his Senate floor speech when he retired in 2011. “It served me well but I’ve sure been in a hell of a lot of trouble.”

He was the sponsor of Amendment 3, Utah’s constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage and, according to Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, was instrumental in swinging the final vote in the Senate.

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