Lawmakers in Utah have agreed to a
compromise that puts gay rights legislation – both for and against
– on the back burner for a year, the Salt Lake Tribune
Under the plan announced Friday,
Democrats agreed to drop three previously publicized pro-gay bills in
exchange for a promise from opponents not to attempt to prevent local
governments from approving measures that outlaw employment and
housing discrimination during the current legislative session.
Lawmakers who favor gay rights said the
compromise would protect the state's first such law enacted late last
year in Salt Lake City.
Representative Christine Johnson, who
is openly lesbian, called the plan a “thoughtful and respectful
compromise, bringing together Democrats and Republicans, Mormons and
non-Mormons, gay and straight.”
Instead of sponsoring a similar
statewide bill, Johnson will introduce one that calls for a study on
the issue. Working with the Utah Labor Commission, a legislative
committee would be required to issue a report no later than November
Democrats also agreed to shelve plans
for two additional bills. One bill, sponsored by Senator Ben McAdams
of Salt Lake City, sought to enable gay partners to sue in the event
of a wrongful death. And a bill dealing with adoption has also been
“That's not an easy pill for us,”
McAdams said. “It's my hope that we will shift from a discussion
of things we disagree about to a discussion of things that we agree
Last year, five pro-gay bills –
including a non-discrimination measure – died inside of committee.
Johnson said she suspected a similar fate awaited bills introduced
during an election year.
Equality Utah, the state's largest gay
rights advocate, said it supported the compromise.
“We'll have good data and a much
better chance of passing meaningful legislation [in 2011],” Brandie
Balken, executive director of the group, said. “While I personally
would very much wish for things to move more quickly, I respect this