And be kind to others. Help your neighbors in need. Help neighbors you don't even know. Be decent.
Funny. Just a few hours earlier, the Senate Judiciary Committee slammed to the ground the first in a rational package of gay-rights bills to the ground--right along party lines, of course. Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, sponsored the measure as part of what gay-rights activists are calling the "Common Ground Initiative." It would have allowed financial dependents to sue if a breadwinner suffers a wrongful death. The law would have covered same-sex, long-term partners as well as anyone else in a family who relies on someone for financial support--grandparents or siblings, for example.
Republicans on the committee, of which Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, is chairman, were in fine form. They pulled out the "slippery slope" argument--as in, if we pass this bill, gay people will soon be nabbing our children off the street. (Don't laugh. I don't even want to know how many legislators actually believe it.) Another senator fretted that McCoy's bill is a "dirty shirt" in a laundry basket of marriage rights that would lead to legalization of same-sex marriage. Even though the state of Utah amended its constitution in 2004 to ban same sex-marriage.
McCoy and others who support Common Ground (and recent polls show most Utahns do), promise they'll work the other bills in the package and not give up. It's going to take the patience of those who fought for civil rights for blacks and for suffragists who battled for equal rights for women. It's going to take forever.
That said, will our elected leaders in this state ever, ever rise to a higher level of debate on this matter? Hate-filled speech, ugly analogies, unkind and fear-based arguments overshadow every discussion about gay rights at this Legislature. Their own Republican governor has implored them to practice basic human kindness to others. Still, comparing the gay and lesbian civil rights fight to a "dirty shirt?" Just sad. (Holly Mullen)