Since the passage of California’s Proposition 8, there have been protests across California. I received an e-mail yesterday from a former student about planned protests across the country. Yet, the brunt of the anger at the passage of this ban on same-sex marriage and reversal of the California Supreme Court’s decision in In re Marriage Cases seems to be directed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its vocal support of the measure. Some have even urged the IRS to reconsider the church’s tax exemption–a topic about which I received a call from a reporter yesterday.
A lesbian and gay rights group in Utah, however, sees the silver lining in the church’s support for Proposition 8 and plans to leverage it to their advantage with some constructive legislative proposals. A New York Times story today is reporting that Equality Utah, with the help of lesbian and gay members of the Utah legislature, plans to introduce a five-part legislative agenda to advance lesbian and gay rights in Utah that is based on the statements that the church made in defense of its support of Proposition 8:
“But leaders of the rights group here, Equality Utah, said statements made by Mormon leaders in defense of their actions in California : that the church was not antigay and had no problem with legal protections for gay men and lesbians already on the books in California : were going to be taken as an endorsement to expand legal rights that gay and lesbian couples have never remotely had in Utah, where the church is based.”
As part of this legislative agenda, the group does not plan to overturn Utah’s so-called defense of marriage act in full, but will seek to strike out the portion of it that bans same-sex unions that are the equivalent of marriage. According to the Times story, they are also planning legislation that would “expand protections for same-sex couples in health care and hospitalization decisions, housing and employment and in inheritance issues in probate court.”