Utah legal documents designed to protect your family no matter your relationship status


utah Utah

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Although the US Supreme Court has held that the federal government cannot discriminate against gay and lesbian couples legally married and living in a state that recognizes that marriage, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples living in Utah are not legally recognized as spouses even if they were married in a marriage equality state or country.

Utah same-sex partners and family members may experience discrimination in many different ways. Some of them, like snubbing by your family of origin or by complete strangers in a social setting, can’t be dealt with legally; they require a set of adaptive behaviors, including education, humor, and a thick skin. But typical anti-discrimination laws do cover several areas.

Here is a run-down on Utah law affecting the LGBTQ community:

1 Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: In response to the 1993 Baehr v. Miike court case on same-sex marriage in Hawaii, Utah Rep. Norm L. Nielsen, R-Utah, sponsored the bill H.B. 366 “Recognition of Marriages” successfully in 1995. The law prohibits state recognition of same-sex marriages which are performed in other states and nations. It was the first such law in the United States.

Utah voters approved the ballot referendum Utah Constitutional Amendment 3 in 2004 that defines marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman and restricts unmarried domestic unions. The referendum was approved by a margin of 65.8 percent to 33.2 percent.

On March 25, 2013, three same-sex couples, including one already married in Iowa, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah seeking to declare Utah’s prohibition on the recognition of same-sex marriages unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. The court heard arguments on December 4. The state argued that there was “nothing unusual” in enforcing policies that encourage “responsible procreation” and the “optimal mode of child-rearing”. Plaintiffs’ attorney contended that the policy is “based on prejudice and bias that is religiously grounded in this state”.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson signed an executive order in 2005 which provides domestic-partner benefits to city-government employees including those who are part of same-sex relationships. The Arizona-based religious legal-action group called the Alliance Defense Fund sued the city, claiming that the order violated the Utah Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union joined the city in defending the order saying it protected “the right to be free from discrimination based on their relationships and the right to equal compensation for equal work.”

Salt Lake City Council members adopted a bill in 2008 which provides a mutual-commitment registry to “unmarried domestic partners—gay or straight—and to other adults in financially dependent relationships, such as a person caring for an aging parent.

The Purchase of Insurance Proceeds law introduced by Representative Pete Suazo and passed in 1994 allows terminally ill Utahns, including those with HIV/AIDS, to sell their life insurance before they died to pay for end-of-life care and other needs.

2 Adoption Law: Utah Rep. Nora B. Stephens, R-Davis, sponsored the bill H.B. 103 Third Substitute “Amendments to Child Welfare” successfully in 1998. The law requires state agencies to give adoption priority to married couples and to prohibit adoptions by co-habitating unmarried couples. Openly lesbian Utah Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake, spoke against the bill.

3 Anti-Discrimination Law:TUtah Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake, sponsored the bill H.B. 89 “Anti-discrimination Act Amendments” unsuccessfully in 2008. The bill would have prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. She reintroduced the bill unsuccessfully in 2009 and 2010. She also sponsored the bill H.B. 128 “Anti-discrimination Study Related to Employment and Housing” in 2010. The bill would have required a study of employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert appointed openly gay Brian Doughty in 2011 to replace Utah Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake, when she resigned from the Utah House of Representatives..

4 Sodomy Law: The Utah sodomy law (Utah Code Section 76-5-403) criminalized same-sex sexual activity until 2003 when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated all state sodomy laws with its landmark 6 to 3 opinion in Lawrence vs. Utah. The opinion stated that private consensual sexual conduct is protected by the due process and equal protection rights that are guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

The state sodomy law applied to heterosexuality and homosexuality as a Class B misdemeanor, and provided punishment of up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Openly gay Utah Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, sponsored the bill S.B. 169 “Sodomy Amendments” unsuccessfully in 2007. The bill would have amended the state sodomy law by repealing its unconstitutional parts. The bill failed without consideration. The law remains published in the Utah Code.

After lobbying in 2011 by gay activist David Nelson, the Utah Department of Public Safety amended its administrative rule which restricted the issuance of the state concealed-firearm permit to individuals who were ever convicted of violating the state sodomy law.

5Gender Identity: Utah Driver License Division employees denied mistreatment of a transgender woman was required to remove her makeup before she could be photographed for a new state identification card in 2011. A witness said that the employees appeared to be making fun of the transgender woman. The woman was invited to meet with the division director.

6Public Opinion: An opinion poll which was conducted in 2011 by Public Policy Polling found that just 27 percent of Utah voters believed that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 66 percent believed it should be illegal and 7 percent were not sure. A separate question in the survey found that 60 percent of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 23 percent supporting same-sex marriage and 37 percent supporting civil unions, while 39 percent opposed all legal recognition and 1 percent were not sure.
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