LaBarbera Award: Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars

Jim Burroway

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.

Regan DuCasse

February 18th, 2009

And they don’t want to be compared to Nazi’s?
Anyone familiar with concentration camps would note the familiar behavior towards Jews and the others in those camps and the shivers reading about what Buttars subjects gay young people to.

Perhaps they derived their organization around the efficiency of concentration camps, after all…those victims of them were not CRIMINALS.
The first white President of South Africa created the system of aparteid after Hitler. He was an admirer of Hitler.

Criminals in our society know or are given their duty to pay back what they’ve taken away from and FOR a TANGIBLE reason.

Is there any reason to believe that Buttars doesn’t have the same mindset of a Nazi?
Buttars, of course would never admit that publicly. But as situations ARE made public, who but the most ignorant wouldn’t make that connection?

And it’s very difficult for gay young people to have a defense against a man like this when so many people thoroughly believe gay people deserve what’s coming to them for NOT CHOOSING heterosexuality.

You would think, that since it WAS only 19 men who committed 9/11, NONE of whom were gay….
And many gay VICTIMS of 9/11, to say nothing of gay soldiers who sacrifice in uniform so that Buttars can insult their service as he does…

You would think the public would get a clue about Buttars and call him AND Kerns on their bullshit.
Even when that high school boy, whose mother died in the OK City bombing wrote an VERY articulate and impassioned letter about these comparisons, he went ignored by Kern.

You have to be of very evil intent to exploit fear AND ignorance in that fashion, especially on the graves of people who were actual victims of terrorists and never gay people.


February 18th, 2009

Do you ever wonder WHY we sometimes come off as mean, Mr. Buttars? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because in South Carolina, animal cruelty is considered a more heinous crime than ‘killing a faggot.’ Maybe it’s because a Florida hospital refused to let a woman be with dying partner. Maybe it’s because heterosexuals hold events for ‘unique sexual tastes’ that might shock mainstream America and Mr. LaBarbera insists that gays are responsible. When you and people like you are treated that way, by all means, get back to me and tell me if it makes you angry and mean.

Scott P.

February 18th, 2009

I remember hearing about this man years ago. Believe me, he’s a hero in Utah.


February 18th, 2009

He’s a hero to some in Utah. Not all.

A KSL poll this week recently said:

47% were in favor of civil unions for gays
42% are not.

If I remember, Mr. C. Buttars won his district by a slim margin and his district is hardly representative of the whole of Utah.

Oh…and…Scott P. You’re not the author of one Letters to the Editor in the Salt Lake Tribune today?

Scott P.

February 18th, 2009

No, I’m not. And I’ll admit my knowledge is out of date, but in the 80s and 90s Buttars was lauded for his approach to “incorrigibles.”


February 18th, 2009

If the allegations against Buttars and the Utah Boys Ranch are true why isn’t he in prison?


February 18th, 2009

“A KSL poll this week recently said:

47% were in favor of civil unions for gays
42% are not.


Just to remind us that we ARE dealing with ppl. Surely some other states have less affinity to granting gay ppl civil unions.

And truly… i believe like they do… the more rights you give gay ppl, it will place them ever so closer to parallel heterosexual couples. And sooner or later ppl will realize that the difference used to comdemn gay ppl or tout heterosexual couples as superior will seem superflous. Ultimately… equality will be granted.

Their afraid, their cautious, their angry and appalled that nationally.. gay equality is/seems progressive. So they will do everything, EVERYTHING in their power to demean, reject and condemn any, however subtle, attempt that paves the way for gay equality.

Religious is to change like friction is to motion. But religion is a construct of society and will eventually… change.

Alex H

February 19th, 2009

I hope this boy’s ranch is being investigated. How can they get away with such hateful crimes?

Moving the rocks from one place to the other, didn’t the Nazis do the same thing to those in the concentration camps?

Awful! Just awful.

Timothy (TRiG)

February 20th, 2009

Regan: “Even when that high school boy, whose mother died in the OK City bombing wrote an VERY articulate and impassioned letter about these comparisons, he went ignored by Kern.”

I’m not American, and am a little out of things. What was this letter?

And I’ll also echo Dave’s question: “If the allegations against Buttars and the Utah Boys Ranch are true why isn’t he in prison?”



Boem Boem T

February 24th, 2009

Being gay is a choice!

Scott P.

February 24th, 2009

Boem Boem T Really? And can you please give us the date and time that you chose your sexuality?

Jason D

February 24th, 2009

Boem, please give us the scientific evidence that proves this, No Paul Cameron please, we’ve heard those lies before.


March 21st, 2013

I have always had a positive view of both Buttars and and west ridge academy. I have known a few people that have gone there, and they all had positiv experiences.

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