LaBarbera Award: Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars
February 18th, 2009
This is what LGBT people in Utah and in the Mormon church are up against. Utah State Senator Chris Buttars has joined Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern in citing gays as the greatest threat to America, in a comment he made in an upcoming documentary about Proposition 8. In late January,
Buttars sat for an interview with documentary maker and former ABC4 (KTVX, Salt Lake City) reporter Reed Cowan, in which he cited gays as possibly the greatest threat to America, and compares LGBT leaders to radical Muslims:
Homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts. But I don’t care.”
…”They’re mean. They want to talk about being nice. They’re the meanest buggers I have ever seen.”
And just seconds later, Buttars draws a comparison between some gays and radical Muslims. “It’s just like the Muslims. Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side.”
…Buttars: “What is the morals of a gay person? You can’t answer that because anything goes.”
And finally, this is how senator Buttars refers to the “radical gay movement.” “They’re probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of.”
Butters also claimed credit for killing every gay rights bill in the state legislature for the past 8 years.
Just one year ago, Buttars became the center of controversy when, during a debate over an education bill, he said, “This baby is black…this is a dark, ugly thing.” That drew condemnation from the NAACP. In this interview, he wasn’t much better, saying “the ACLU — bless their black hearts…”
Buttars was the director of the Utah Boys Ranch, (now West Ridge Academy), a Mormon reeducation camp located in West Jordan, Utah, for fifteen years before retiring in 2005. Described by critics and former staff members as a Mormon Gulag, the LDS-affiliated camp has come under charges of sanctioning and promoting abuse among its inmates — err, clients:
Upon arrival, children are changed out of their regular clothes and into either a wool blanket – to be worn like a dress, with a rope leash to be tied around the waste – and t-shirt, or a t-shirt and Army pants. They are then delivered to what is called the “work crew” which, interestingly enough, is entirely missing from the Gulag’s marketing material and program description.
On Work Crew, despite the name, a lot of the time is spent standing completely still, facing a wall. Talking of any kind is certainly out of the question, as is moving – including scratching your nose – without permission. When children aren’t being forced to stand with their noses against a wall, they are often led around the facility – those donning Army surplus store wool blankets are led by their rope leashes – to do inane, demeaning types of labor. For example, gathering hundreds of rocks and boulders in a pile – just to move the pile to another location immediately after. Or digging ditches, and filling them back in, with plastic spoons.
Once a child is released from work crew – which could be weeks or months – they are given a pair of blue jeans to go with their green t-shirt. As a “green shirt” there is a considerable amount of time that is no longer spent facing the wall, but there is still no talking whatsoever. In order to earn the privilege of monitored verbal communication a child must carefully read the first book of the Mormon scriptures – First Nephi – and prove they have done so by “passing it off” to one of the Mormon missionaries on staff.
The child must also confess their sins to a Mormon Bishop in a “bishop’s interview” before changing into a “blue shirt” – which is as good as it gets in the Gulag. Green shirts are not allowed to sit on furniture or read anything besides Mormon canon.
Among specific allegations:
Chris Buttars ordered two large men to violently rip my clothes off, shave my head bald and made me walk around naked (my underwear was torn in struggle) with nothing but an army blanket for 2 weeks. My room mates whom I was locked in with were there for sexually molesting their younger brothers. I was 13 and I never recovered from my experiences there.
It was much worse than that but I can’t stand to describe it. I’d give anything to ask him ‘why?’
He allowed mentally ill children to grow up without any psychological treatment (mental illness in the boys ranch was defined as “the crazy act for attention”) He also turned a blind eye to prison justice against these kids in his boys ranch.
Update: We have the entire transcript of Buttars’ award-winning remarks here.