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Marriage Bill Today on the Hill

Marriage Bill Today on the Hill

Posted - Jan. 21, 2004 at 4:38 p.m.



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Richard Piatt ReportingA bill that prohibits same-sex unions and defines marriage as 'between one man and one woman' is on hold at the state Capitol. The reason--parts of it may be unconstitutional.

The Definition of Marriage bill may be on hold, but its supporters are not giving up. In fact, some claim this bill is one of the most important lawmakers will face this year.

The arguments were polite, but people opposing Senate Bill 24--Definition of Marriage say banning certain civil unions is anything but civil.

Michael Mitchell, Equality Utah: “Gays and lesbians want to be part of the institution to strengthen it. And I think it will strengthen our society and I think it will strengthen Utah."

By defining marriage, some Legislators want to make sure one state can't define marriage for Utah. It would prohibit same-sex or polygamous unions, and it seeks to protect a religious tenet.

But three lawyers: BYU professors Lynn Wardle and Richard Wilkins and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Zimmerman each found constitutional problems that ended up putting the bill on hold.

Richard Wilkins, BYU Professor of Law: "The constitutional meaning of marriage should not be left to the unfettered discretion of local and federal judges."

It is uncertainty about upholding Definition of Marriage laws in court that could spark a Constitutional Amendment campaign, according to President Bush. A court challenge doesn't intimidate the author of Utah's bill, Senator Chris Buttars.

Sen. Chris Buttars, (R) West Jordan: “Well you heard the ACLU; they come in to sound their primary warning notel, ‘If you don’t do it our way, we’ll sue you.’ They try to hold anything they don’t agree with hostage with litigation. I won’t buy into that.”

But Representative Jackie Biskupski--who is openly lesbian--raised a red flag of her own, saying this is denying equal rights to all citizens.

Rep. Jackie Biskupski, (D) Salt Lake City: "We deserve the same rights. The fact that you need to revise the constitution to back up what you're doing, should tell you, you should not be doing it."

Senator Buttars says he will re-write sections of the bill that raise Constitutional 'red flags'. After that, it seems highly likely it will pass both the Senate and the House.

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