February 22nd, 2009
Timothy and I both noticed that as Utah State Senate President Michael Waddoups explained his reasons for sanctioning State Sen. Chris Buttars, it wasn’t because the GOP caucus disagreed with what Buttars said, but that they were embarrassed with how he said it.
Well if there was any doubt, there’s more proof in this latest article from the Salt Lake Tribune posted late yesterday evening:
Senate leaders did not discipline Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, for anti-gay comments he made in a recent interview, but because he violated a deal with leadership that he not talk about gay issues, a senator said Saturday.
“Most of what Senator Buttars said, I agree with,” Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said in a weekly Red Meat Radio program he hosts on K-TALK. “We as a Senate caucus had an agreement that because Sen. Buttars had become such a lightning rod on this issue, he would not be the spokesman on this issue and basically he violated that agreement.” …”It happened, not because he said a lot of things wrong, but because he decided to be the spokesman again,” Stephenson said.
Buttars, a former LDS bishop, came under fire when, in an interview with reporter Reed Cowan, he compared gays to radical Muslims, said they had no morals, and called them “probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of.” When Utah State Senate Democrats threatened to bring the issue up on the Senate floor, Waddoups called a news conference on Friday where he announced that Buttars would be relieved of his chairmanship of two committees.
But notice that during that press conference, Waddoups refused to condemn what Buttars said. In fact, he said that “We agree with many of the things he said. … We stand four square behind his right [to say what he wants].” He also said that removing Buttars from the two committee chairmanships “frees Senator Buttars to feel more at ease in saying how he personally feels without feeling as if he’s personally speaking on behalf of his committee and the Legislature.”
So why was Buttars sanctioned if they didn’t disagree with what he said? According to Sen. Stephenson:
Senate Republicans, including Buttars, reached an agreement at a day-long caucus Dec. 13 that, because he was such a polarizing figure, Buttars should not comment on gay issues. That included a prohibition on speaking to the Common Ground bills that sought some equal rights for gays.
But Buttars didn’t stay on the sidelines for long. Just a month later, he sat down with documentary filmmaker Reed Cowan for the hour-long interview for a project on California’s Proposition 8 against gay marriage, in which Buttars made the inflammatory statements.
Stephenson did disagree with Buttars on one thing. He was miffed that Buttars hogged the credit for killing every piece of gay-rights legislation to hit the Senate in the past eight years. Stephenson wants us to know that others should get some of the credit:
“For him to claim the glory for that, truly he’s delusional on this issue,” Stephenson said.
[Hat tip: Stefano]
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