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No Common Ground In Utah

Jim Burroway

February 18th, 2009

If there was any question before, there’s none now. The state of Utah now vies with Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina as among the worst states in the nation for LGBT citizens. A Utah House legislative committee found that the very simplest of provisions for designating a partner with the power of making medical decisions or visitation rights was just way too radical.

That’s right. Simply allowing a partner to visit a loved one in the hospital is a threat to marriage. Obviously.

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John
February 18th, 2009 | LINK

They nutjobs won a battle today but the war ain’t over yet and we’ve only just begun to fight…

Bruce Garrett
February 18th, 2009 | LINK

This is what I keep telling those folks who wonder why we’re fighting for marriage rights when there are so many other battles out there…like job discrimination, hate crime laws…and hospital visitation. Every meager right this movement has ever fought for has at one time or another been turned into a fight about same-sex marriage.

Hospital visitation? Oh goodness no…that’ll lead to same-sex marriage. Protect the gays from job discrimination, or discrimination in housing and goods and services? No, no…that’ll lead to same sex marriage. The =First= thing the phobes started bellyaching about after Lawrence v. Texas was same sex marriage.

And that’s because the root of this fight isn’t sex…and it’s not even marriage specifically. It’s about the legitimacy of our intimate relationships. The phobes know what they’re fighting for I think, sometimes better then we know what we’re fighting for. That’s why they keep dragging everything back to the issue of marriage. You bet they raised the marriage flag in Utah. The same logic that says decency requires a nation to allow same sex couples the right to be with one another in sickness, what do you know, also requires that nation to let them be together in health too.

Timothy Kincaid
February 18th, 2009 | LINK

Just thinking out loud here…

The Utah Tourism Board spends big bucks advertising on California television.

I wonder if some department of the California government could put out a travel advisory similar to those issued the the State Department.

Please be aware that the state of Utah may not recognize your civil rights or those of any family members that they suspect of being gay.

If you are gay and injured on their ski slopes, your spouse will be banned from visiting you in the hospital and from making medical decisions on your behalf.

Powerful members of the state government consider gay visitors to be the most significant threat to the Nation and if they suspect you of being gay, you may be treated according.

Please be advised that if you are traveling on business and are gay, the state has authorized coworkers to harass you. Please also know that you may legally be denied accomodations or housing while in the state.

Further consideration must be given to the fact that civil government is controlled in Utah by a religious organization whose members have spent tens of millions of dollars to influence the laws of neighboring states. Please be careful about identifying that you are from California as this may negatively impact your experience.

Please take these factors into consideration while planning any travel that may include staying in Utah. And please be aware that the state of California will not be able to intercede on your behalf if you become the victim of discrimination while within the borders of the state of Utah.

John Bisceglia
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

I can’t believe we cannot find ONE OTHER (or 5-6) Queer Americans to begin a united front against taxation until ALL (all) a-l-l FAMILIES are EQUAL.

Amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression!

Don’t we feel valued as U.S. tax-payers knowing that our fellow tax-payers voted to keep OUR family and children worthless in the eyes of the law?

EQUALITY TAX REVOLT –
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

John Bisceglia
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Addendum – (i suck at typing)
I wanted to say that:

“I can’t believe we cannot find ONE OTHER (or 5-6) Queer American to join Charles Merril and begin a united front against taxation until ALL FAMILIES are EQUAL.” – sorry for double post.

Devlin Bach
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

I personally would like to see all of Christianity banned worldwide, for obvious discriminatory current and historical reasons. I find it’s very structure to mostly be very cruel spell-casting-woowoo.

There are certain bubbles the U.S. Supreme Court will just have to burst, and Utah with it’s Mormonic hypnotic spell of sexual ignorance and bigotry will be prime target. I can already hear the screams. Bummer.

Better sooner than later.

Richard Rush
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Bruce wrote:

….Every meager right this movement has ever fought for has at one time or another been turned into a fight about same-sex marriage….

Bu I think this can be seen in a positive light. It indicates that the anti-gay campaigners no longer have politically viable arguments against the non-marriage issues when they are discussed on their own merits. People generally have become increasingly agreeable to such protections as hospital visitation, job discrimination, housing discrimination, public accommodation, and hate crime laws. But marriage is the one final hurdle that most people are struggling with, so the anti-gay campaigners have been forced to shape every individual issue as being all about marriage. It is really an indication of our progress.

cowboy
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Which makes me wonder: Have we made any progress since the Anita Bryant era?

I readily recognize the advances we have made in the corporate/business community but there is still a lot more to be done.

We have oases of domestic partner benefits in sporadic cosmopolitan city/county governments but everywhere else it is a very sad commentary of our overall civil rights.

As for the entertainment industry: Until there was a semi-successful, box-office hit movie from a foreign director (Ang Lee: Brokeback Mountain) we had mostly stereotypical (read: poor) portrayal of homosexuality…they used gays mostly as humorous subplots or comic relief.

Have we made any progress? Really?

Scott P.
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Sounds like somebody’s rose-colored-everything’s-great-in-Utah glasses got smashed by the legislature, huh, cowboy?

Yes, progress is being made, just not in backwaters.

And that scares the hell out of bigots. They know that if the important states acknowledge us and our relationships, it’s just a matter of time before their ignorance and hatred is exposed for what it really is.

Attmay
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Well, Anita is washed up and no one will hire her, and last I heard she was in debt up to her eyeballs.

“I personally would like to see all of Christianity banned worldwide, for obvious discriminatory current and historical reasons.”

I say this in anger lots of times, but when I calm down, I am at a loss to come up with a reason why this would necessarily help gay people.

Richard Rush
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Cowboy, what age are you? I “came out” in the year of the Stonewall riots – 1969. Since then, the progress has been enormous. Having said that, I don’t mean to downplay the work that remains. It is difficult to imagine anyone more furious than myself at the relentless daily barrage from our frothing-at-the-mouth opponents.

I realize my perspective is influenced by living in the northeast part of the country, whereas I may see it differently if I lived in Utah or Alabama.

Just the fact that our society is now having a conversation/debate about us that often plays-out in the so-called mainstream media is huge progress. In 1969 there was no debate, as virtually everyone viewed us as vile degenerates who could be treated literally as criminals. There was no conversation because the subject was considered virtually unspeakable. And almost all gays were completely closeted with family, “friends,” and at work and school – we had to be to survive. Only people who were living on the far fringes of society could and did have the courage to storm out of the Stonewall into the streets.

cowboy
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

But, Mr. Rush, (as I put my lollipop down to type):

you say:

And almost all gays were completely closeted with family, “friends,” and at work and school – we had to be to survive.

That’s pretty much how it is today in a lot of aspects. Maybe I don’t quite understand the level of suppression that was in the past as compared to the level now. But, I get the feeling it was much worse.

And Mr. Scott P,
Yeah…it’s a major scratch on my lenses and I doubt they can be repaired. I’m going to look for another pair with perhaps not so rosy of a tint next time around.

Richard Rush
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Cowboy, I feel so sad for gays living in places where bigots make the rules, and control how people feel about themselves.

It may seem odd, but I feel more fury now that so much has improved than I did years ago when things were much worse in our part of the U.S.. I think I know the reasons, and I’ll try to explain:

It is only in hindsight that I can see how beaten-down, shy, intimidated, fearful, and inhibited I felt for most of my life. At the time, I wished things could be different, but I could not possibly know how that difference would feel. Nor could I know how much of my condition was due to being gay in a hostile society. But now I know that it was almost entirely the gay issue. Only now am I able to know what it actually feels like to be mostly free of those old feelings. You can’t really know what a different state of being would feel like until you actually experience it.

So why am I more furious now? One reason is that I feel some bitterness that I lived so much of my life in a beaten down state. Another is that I feel sad for those still living in the hellholes of the nation.

And another big reason is exposure every day to the relentless vile anti-gay rhetoric. Years ago people didn’t really articulate their anti-gay attitudes, but of course we always knew the attitudes were there. Sure, gays would hear demeaning gay jokes, be called faggot, or beaten up, but there were no organized anti-gay campaigns. They didn’t need campaigns because almost everyone was in agreement about homos.

Here is an example of how things have changed at a personal level. A few years ago I arranged a surprise birthday party for my partner at a gay restaurant. Both of our extended families were there. And our families have been to dinner in each other’s homes.

Another example: When we first moved to our house in the city over 25 years ago, we were both nervous about being seen entering or leaving together. We were the only gays on our block, to our knowledge. But now there are seven gay households on the block, and the attitudes of other neighbors are no longer of any concern. And this is not a gay neighborhood by any means.

Yet another example: My sister and her husband are good friends with a gay couple, and they have gone on several vacations together (including another one next week).

Don’t give up hope. I think the bigots are gasping for breath. The world is changing and their heads are exploding.

Emily K
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Unfortunately I can’t remember who said it, but there is a saying that – like a swamp – the more the anti-gay attitudes evaporate, the thicker the toxic sludge that still gets left behind becomes.

Alex
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Richard,

Your comments have given me a lot of encouragement. Thanks for that!

David C.
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Emily K:

To see the full context of the observation:

Like a polluted swamp, anti-gay bigotry is likely to get thicker and more toxic as it dries up.

take a look at the very good article that appeared on the website of the New Yorker Magazine regarding the passage of prop 8: Eight is Enough.

cowboy
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Mr. Rush,
I’m not sure why I stay in toxic wasteland Utah. Maybe I’m strong enough to face the adversity or I’m too stupid to flee. I just know I have to avoid stomping in the same muck these hate-filled people seem to enjoy.

However, I find encouragement when I read about another poll, but this time it’s in New Jersey. They are 48% to 43% in favor of civil unions for gays. Very similar to the results of a recent poll here in Utah.

Maybe there is a trend happening across this country. We just have to remember to avoid getting stuck in the muck.

And I do believe Mr. Chris Buttars is relishing this notoriety. So much so, he is glowing…absolutely glowing from all the attention. Can you see the green toxic glow around him? His aura is definitely glowing. And that, maybe, is why he gets re-elected all the time.

Ignore the man. Make him crawl back to his waste disposal of a district and maybe his only legacy will be his hatred and his obsession with gays.

Richard Rush
February 19th, 2009 | LINK

Cowboy, you wrote:

However, I find encouragement when I read about another poll, but this time it’s in New Jersey. They are 48% to 43% in favor of civil unions for gays. Very similar to the results of a recent poll here in Utah.

Actually, you can be a little more encouraged that you thought. That poll in NJ was for same-sex marriage. NJ already has civil unions which technically provide all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. The civil unions came as a result of a NJ Supreme court ruling which gave the legislature the option of calling it civil unions or marriage. As far as I know there really wasn’t any significant backlash after that.

Regarding you staying in Utah or fleeing, I’m sure it is a very difficult decision to move your whole life somewhere else. And being in Utah you probably have to move a long distance to find a better place. How far is Denver? I have lived in one midwestern state and one southern state, and have now ended up about 65 miles from where I was born in the northeastern part of the US. One of the convenient things about the northeast is that if you grow up in a stifling small town, you don’t have to move very far to be in a major city and still be close enough for day-trips to visit family.

Stefano A
February 20th, 2009 | LINK

After the mis-reading of polls last November, and not to sound “fatalistic” or “defeatist”, I’d caution not to place to much regard on that New Jersey poll. They polled (I think) 400 or less people and more importantly the margin of error was something like 4.9%. That’s a pretty large margin of error.

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