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Utah Dems, Activists Demand More Action On Buttars

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2009

There are only eight Democrats in Utah’s 29-member Senate, but they’re making a lot of noise. They’re not happy with the GOP leadership’s halfhearted response to Utah State Sen. Chris Buttars’ (R-West Jordan) comparing gays to radical Muslims, saying they had no morals, and calling them “probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of.”

After Senate Democrats threatened to bring the issue up on the Senate floor, Senate President Michael Waddoups removed Buttars as chairman of two Senate committees. But Waddoups made it very clear that he was acting only out of embarrassment, and not out of any disagreement with anything Buttars said.

This left Senate Democrats dissatisfied and demanding more:

“President Waddoups put faith in Sen. Buttars and appointed him to very important and key positions. Unfortunately, Sen. Buttars betrayed that trust,” said Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City, who also sought Buttars’ removal from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“Removing Senator Buttars from these key positions …would be sending a clear message to Utahns, Americans and humankind that we do not tolerate bad behavior in the Utah Senate,” she said.

Waddoups responded by threatening to remove any Democrats from the Rules committee who couldn’t work with Buttars — an obvious reference to Sen. Scott McCoy (D-Salt Lake City), the only openly gay Senator who also happens to sit on the Rules Committee with Buttars.

The Senate ground to a halt for two hours Monday when the GOP caucus met privately to talk about the Buttars situation. According to the local Fox TV affiliate, that meeting was prompted partly by Saturday’s revelation by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper) that Waddoups only acted because Buttars broke a pledge he made in December not to talk about gay-rights issues, and not as punishment for the opinions that Buttars expressed.

For his part, Buttars expressed bitterness over being relieved of his chairmanships and vowed not to resign.

Meanwhile, Utah gay rights supporters plan a rally — no, not a rally, and not a protest either — a party, for Saturday. “Buttars-Palooza” will take place on the Capitals south lawn from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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David C.
February 25th, 2009 | LINK

The salient effect of this will be to drive the efforts of the extreme-right members underground from which they will return to practice even more subtle bigotry.

The irony is of course, that Buttars agreed to being “gagged” by his party colleagues but broke loose and blabbed anyway, forcing them all to scurry out of the light only to reemerge and slap him down for spilling the beans. They just can’t seem keep the troublesome little secret that many of them are puppets of the LDS hierarchy, or at least subscribe to its orthodoxy.

Chris Buttars is not contrite and makes no apology for himself, his breach of the trust placed in him by his colleagues, or his apparent and almost maniacal repetition of the same tired and discredited memes used to attack gay people. And he is obviously not alone in the Utah Senate.

cowboy
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

I’m hoping it’s not in the LDS hierarchy, David C. We get glimmers of hope when the Mormon PR man makes a statement about civil-rights for gays and the popular Mormon Governor is saying some rather gay-affirming things lately. Maybe we can’t say ALL Mormons are anti-gay.

There is definitely a flow or current in the Mormon community that is virulently anti-gay. I know it has infected my family. (I could tell you stories.) It’s just that when I finally had the nerve to come out to my family the response was so….so…rehearsed. It was like everyone read from a script: “What 12 Things To Say To Your Gay Son/Daughter When They Do Come Out.”

The pure vindictiveness towards anyone gay is palpable here. And Utah is in the forefront battle in this conflict. We get the national attention with having a Gay-Straight Club banned in a school district. Then we had teacher Wendy Weaver make headlines when she was admonished to keep her mouth shut by the Nebo School District after a student in the high school “outted” her. The purging of gays at BYU and its past with electro-shock therapy. And now I read about the nasty things that were said in the Proposition 8 campaigning.

It seems too orchestrated but I’m not sure the dictates are coming from the LDS Headquarters.

I know there is a rather intense anti-gay hatred that fills some people here and I’m not sure where the source comes from. I cringe each time I hear my Mother say some things she gleans from listening to other women at the beauty salon she frequents. You would think the boys in the salon doing their hairdos would squelch the rumors or slap them on the side of their heads.

Could it be Mormons are gullible and took bad advice from the anti-gay Evangelicals? I just don’t think the genesis of the anti-gay bile was in the Mormon faith. It has crept in from the outside.

Scott P.
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

cowboy, your reasoning is flawed. You can’t tell us about the electro-shock treatments administered to gays at BYU and all the other horrors, like outlawing “Right of Survivorship” contracts, and then try to blame it on outside influences. All of the bigotry you’re experiencing in Utah is home-grown. Saying Utah has to have Evangelicals importing bigotry is like saying Morton has to import salt.

And, have you never heard of public relations? The evident hatred that Buttars evinces doesn’t play well, so of course the LDS Church is going to make nice! They took a bad black eye with Prop. 8 and they know it. If they don’t want to look like they’re homophobic they HAVE to make conciliatory statements, otherwise they can’t play the martyr card. To believe otherwise is naive.

Lynn David
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

Wasn’t Buttars one of those who formerly ran a ‘de-gaying boot camp’ for sons of LDS members in Utah?

On the other hand I read through some of the comments in the Deseret News and there were some LDS Republicans who were rather mad at Buttars. I think they give cowboy the hope he is looking for in the LDS and Utah. Some I copied follow:

Southwind | 7:35 a.m. Feb. 22, 2009
The kind of extreme language used by Sen Buttars to describe the personalities of Utah fellow citizens is NOT representative of “90%” of our population. I am not gay, but I was taught to act and speak civilly and to treat all people with the respect they deserve. Children and grownups follow the examples of their leaders. The language used by Sen Buttars and endorsed apparently by many of our lawmakers provides the license for others ratchet up the hateful discord another notch. This discussion is important and needs to be elevated. The process is almost important as the issue itself. What are the lessons we are teaching our children? They are watching, listening and they follow our example.

southwind is right | 8:16 a.m. Feb. 22, 2009
I am not gay. I am LDS.

I am offended by the way these men in the legislature are behaving.

This is wrong.

There is no historical evidence for what they are saying. This is all a bunch of fear-mongering.

These words are license for fearful people to behave badly and it’s no wonder gays want a little legal protection.

How on earth are we supposed to join together and work together for the greatest good of our communities if we have men leading us who would believe such things and then spread it as if it were the gospel. It isn’t the gospel and God didn’t give his permission for them to say such hateful words.

Business Owner | 8:28 a.m. Feb. 22, 2009
Every time these guys open their mouths without thinking how to express themselves with at least a modicum of tact, they damage every business person in the state. Every time they pull a stunt like this in such a spectacular manner, I lose clients in other states or have to spend that much more time defending my address instead of pitching my product. Between this and the export of rampant multilevel scamming, Utah is becoming a pariah address for business people.

Thanks a lot.

Old Lady | 8:41 a.m. Feb. 22, 2009
Ya can’t get more Utahn or Mormon than me. Born & raised, with all eight of my great grandparents part of the Mormon migration back when. And I am not gay. However, Buttars and his GOP buddies DO NOT REPRESENT ME! His comments and their lack of humanity are a huge embarrassment to me and as far as I can tell, most of my family, friends and neighbors. Bigotry, intolerance and non-compassion are not representative of the vast majority of Utahns. How did we get so far off base with these “representatives”? They hide their true characters behind secret agreements among themselves?

Daniel | 9:00 a.m. Feb. 22, 2009
Stephenson said “I have to tell you publicly that most of what Sen. Buttars said — I agree with, however…we, as a Senate caucus, had an agreement that because Senator Buttars has become such a lightning rod on this issue, that he would not be the spokesperson on the issue.”

In other words, they had a behind the scenes agreement that they would skuttle everything Common Ground is doing but talk about it publically in politically correct lies and distortions, which Buttars is unable to do!

Buttars’ comments undermined “everything we’ve done” – which is to deny people equal protection under the law for no other reason than because they have a different preference in their intimate lives!

Stowell, R-Parowan, said “I think the bulk of people in Utah agree with 90 percent of what he said”– Baloney! The bulk (more than 50%) of Utahns support equal rights and individual liberty! But what do you expect from Parowan?! How many horses do they have in that town now?

The deception of these legislators sickens me. Not one of them can be trusted. If denying equal rights of gays is so wonderful, why hide it? Why silence Buttars?

HYPOCRITES!

wise, thoughtful and compassiona | 9:01 a.m. Feb. 22, 2009
When legislators meet with LDS church leaders each year they are reminded to be wise, thoughtful and compassionate.

That’s not a moral compass. It’s moral direction. Buttars and Stephenson don’t exemplify wisdom or thoughtful compassion. Instead they practice demagoguery and prey on fear.

The greatest threat to our civilization isn’t sexual immorality. The greatest threat happens when political leaders get caught up in their own power and begin to believe that they’re better than everyone else, because of their birth or education or high station.

LDS religious leaders published a news release that spelled out exactly what kinds of legislation weren’t objectionable to the church. They were very specific. Stephenson and Buttars ignored that counsel, as they have a right to do.

But don’t say they’re standing up for the majority belief, because they aren’t. Don’t fool yourself into believing that they’re defending marriage, because their positions aren’t in line with the views of the church.

I’m LDS. I’m Republican. I’ve been married 20 years and have six kids. I hope for a day when our political leaders follow the faith.

They don’t represent me! | 10:59 a.m. Feb. 22, 2009
How do we end up with people like Stephenson and Buttars? If the KKK existed in Utah, they would be members. Surely there have to be better men and women among us who have a Christ-like love and compassion in their hearts.

I’m LDS and to be honest, I’m not 100% comfortable with a lot of the gay issues, but I am worlds away from the biggotted, extreme comments of Buttars and Stephenson. I’m more offended by Stephenson’s comments than Buttars though. We all know Buttars is a bigotted, borderline insane guy with no impulse control. But it’s more offensive that Stephenson assumes that the bulk of Utah agrees with 90% of what Buttars said. These guys run in such tight circles that they have no clue what the real world thinks.

I am an angry Republican | 2:14 p.m. Feb. 22, 2009
I am so angry with Buttars, Waddopus and the “mightier than you” group of guys up there. Where are our elder statesmen? I am a middle-income, LDS, conservative Republican who is ashamed that we have Buttars and others up there as the face of our party. Waddoups doesn’t do it for me. He has a shadowy element to his style. That he put Buttars back into power this year, and elevated him to Rules Committee Chair, really irks me. We have Waddopus to blame for Buttars. Without Waddoups wanting Buttars to be back in power we would not be in this mess. Buttars felt emboldened by Waddoups. I’m ready to start over with new leaders. If the Rs cannot get ethics reform legislation done this session we know where these legislators’ interests lie–not with the public. These guys have got to watch out. Moderate your politics, moderate your style, live up to higher principles, stop showing such disrespect for minority voices, or else there will be a reckoning. Vouchers didn’t go so well for ultra conservatives, did they?

Scott P.
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

Lynn David,

The letters to the Deseret News are very interesting. however, you seem to have cherry-picked only the ones that show a modicum of sense about what the state legislature has been up to. Surely the fact that these men have been reelected time and again speaks volumes more about the attitudes of the average Utahn than what you’ve presented here.

I strongly contest cowboy’s assertion that the current, rabid bigotry in Utah is the result of Evangelical influences.

When these men loose their offices, then, and only then, will I believe homophobia to be waning in Utah.

cowboy
February 26th, 2009 | LINK

The likelihood of anything of substance coming from all this Buttars affairs is practically nil. The Senator is feeding his ego off the publicity. The outrage level for gay inequality is already back to pre-Proposition 8 days. In spite of these comments from the Deseret News, the level of outrage by the citizens of Utah is not being demonstrated by any actions.

The little soiree this Saturday on the Utah State Capitol grounds is futile and a waste of time. The Buttars-palooza is a cute idea but it really has no chance of changing anyone’s mind. It will only reinforce the characterization of gays as whiny spoiled kids.

Unless…what we see at the rally would be a whole lot of our NON-GAY friends. In fact, the majority of the attendees should be non-gay. Maybe even some placard-carrying Mormons who are upset about Buttars’ antics.

But, I doubt that will happen. And come Monday, things will be status quo and we go back to breaking a few pencils doing our State Tax Returns.

cowboy
December 2nd, 2009 | LINK

So…
Senator C. Buttars is going to co-sponsor a discrimination bill after reconsidering his stance last year. (He had a talk with his LDS Bishop, maybe?)

Senator Scott McCoy is resigning.

Do we laugh or cry?

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